Birds of a Feather: You attract what you tolerate


Every manager wants to lead a high-performing, engaged team that shares a commitment to achieve superior outcomes. How many times in a career do managers experience this? Nirvana is elusive and more often, they spend their time and energy frittered away in managing friction and misalignments between departments and team members.

Up to one third of management time is spent managing or ‘negotiating’ personality conflicts between talented, well-meaning people who are doing the best they can, in roles to which they are simply not suited.

When most organizations say they screen for ‘fit’ what they really mean is that they are doing a ‘gut check’ of how much this person is ‘like us’ and how closely they align with the organization’s culture and values. The gut check is subjective and more a reflection of the interviewer’s personal preferences than it is of anything useful or predictive of the individual’s likely success in the role.

Organizations with a more deliberate approach to selection will view the candidate through four lenses, using objective tools to help them measure and assess a candidate’s likely fit with:

  • Their manager to whom they will report
  • The job for which they are being considered
  • The people they will be spending their day with
  • The company’s values and culture, and the standards of performance expected

This last aspect of ‘fit’ is often overlooked; it has to do with how high an organization sets the bar.

The old adage that ‘birds of a feather flock together’ has a direct bearing on your business’ financial potential and will determine how your brand is perceived by your customers and future employees. Where mediocrity is tolerated and average performance accepted, those behavioral standards quickly become entrenched. When the bar’s set low, no-one has the incentive to jump higher.

Those whose personal standards and capabilities are higher than those of the ‘pack’ will do one of two things: relax their standards and settle for performing just a smidge better, or they will look elsewhere for people – birds of a feather – who share their high standards.

You attract what you tolerate… if you tolerate mediocrity, you will inevitably get more of it and leave a lot of potential value on the table. By setting the bar high and accepting only the highest standards of performance you will create a magnet that will help you attract the best talent in the market.

Those who don’t like the heat will leave for a more ‘accepting’ environment. Everyone especially you will be better off.

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