Fast Company

Friendly Hire

OK, so being bald and beautiful doesn't always work in Seth's favor. Let's see if being friendly does.

While FC Now readers debate whether love truly is the killer app, researchers at the University of Michigan have found that friendly employees are more productive.

"An impersonal style tends to restrict the bandwidth of information a person attends to in the workplace," says psychologist Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks. "This type of miscommunication, like ships passing in the night, is further exacerbated in diverse organizations (domestically and internationally) because rarely are people with other cultural backgrounds as impersonal as mainstream Americans."

While Americans can be extremely friendly in social settings with colleagues, that behavior doesn't always translate to the office environment. Is this the case where you work?

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4 Comments

  • NeoTheologue

    The more a business relies on people for its productivity, the greater the importance of the principles of selfless service. Working as a senior leader in a small nonprofit where most of the productivity comes from volunteers, I experience this truth on a daily basis.

    In the final analysis, all of this talk of "love" and "friendliness" really comes down to the issue of character. Leaders of character genuinely feel concern for their people and authentically express that concern by putting their people's needs ahead of their own. All else being equal, I'd wager that organizations built around this principle consistently out-perform their competitors.

  • Don Jarrell

    After 16 months in Austin, I am getting really comfortable with the special culture here, we characterize as "Austintatious". A component of that is the friendly spirit exemplified at places like Amy's Ice Cream, Book People, and (one that non-Austinites can enjoy) Austin-based Whole Foods. At all these places, even those twentysomething employees sporting lots of "ink" greet me and take of me like I'm a bud - despite the outward appearance of a whitebread graybeard. These places also enjoy extremely low employee turnover, high repeat business, and excellent cost management. I am confident there is a big connection.

  • Vignesh,SITM Marketing,Pune

    I completely agree with Seth that friendly employees can bring about the change in the work environment.
    They can make the work place a fun place to work in.

  • chris macrae

    Heath, you may have hit the bullseye in terms of the ongoing malaise of corporate america. In any business whose productivity depends more on people than machines, you need a second governance system to openly manage the emotional and intelligence flows that numbers accounting and all non-transparent transcactional performance metrics not only cannot do but conflicts with, compounding error after error. Brookings reported this intangibles crisis in 2000, but how few CEOs have yet heard the news. Odd, unless the answer is that so few now feel rewarded for sustainable management...but if that's what leadership is drifting away to, then why would anyone knowingly invest time or money in an organisation with no sustainable future?

    There are now substantial benchmarks being collected on which emotions enhance what:

    individual sustainability (devotion to a career) appears to depend on the 'flow' of happiness and focus (being able to work 100% in a way that matchs your talents but is respected by all around)- see Claremont Prof Csikzentmihalyi- Good Business

    at group levels trust and courage seem to be the most important living system flows.

    However all win-win relationship emotions are highly correlated-and depend on knowledge openly circulating to make everyone's work timely and simple - so choose your own truly human nuances!; and know the worst way to knowledge manage people is to go on leading by numbers alone (and all the professions that take their cut from making numbers look more certain than they are) because relationship mathematics multiplies and compounds in ways that make fools of those who believe in separable precision. Lack of that basic human understanding brought down Andersen, and in a networked age will soon bring down any organisation however large that continues to blind itself to why people energies need trustworthy connections, designed dynamically into every value productivity and demand that uniquely characterises a company's purpose

    EU sig editor KM & Emotional Intelligence
    http://www.knowledgeboard.com/...

    ask me at wcbn007@easynet.co.uk for sample chapter on our book open sourcing trust-flow governance