Selective Staffing Insights

Industry news, advice and resources from our expert recruiters.

The Battle of Kindness vs. Experience

The below quote is one that has frequently surfaced over the last few weeks and causing debates on social media platforms.

“Hiring kind people with a positive attitude is better than hiring negative people with experience.”

Is one better than the other? Let’s unpack and talk upon both the positive and negative aspects as there are various ways to interpret it.

This quote is certainly thought provoking, but broad. The biggest debate has been that you do not always know which you are going to get in the interview stage as individuals always try to put their best foot forward. Although this is true in most cases, when debating between candidates, you generally have a gut feeling on who will fit in better with your team and if they will have a positive or negative contribution.

The biggest misconception from this quote is that the person with the positive attitude has no experience whatsoever. In reality, the individual with the positive attitude may only have a few years of experience in comparison to someone who is generally negative with more seasoned experience. Just because someone does not have the direct experience you are looking for, doesn’t mean that they do not have the skills to do the job. In that case, who would you hire?

Attitude – From an Employee/Employer perspective:

Bringing someone in with a positive attitude is important for the team that is already loyal to you. Adding a team member with a negative attitude can bring down morale and discourage other team members. For some people, co-workers make or break the work environment.

Hire for attitude, train for skill! Experience is valuable, but good employers can train good quality people to do the work to their standard. It may take more time than desired, but it will pay off in the long run. You cannot train someone to be a good person, a team player, and to have a positive attitude. A kind person who contributes at the highest level will within short time pull far ahead of the negative, team morale killing, person. In time, this will increase overall productivity, as happy employees are 20% more productive then unhappy employees.

Experience – From an Employee/Employer perspective:

On the flip side, some believe that for a company to be successful, you need people with experience to not only run operations but train others. In some cases, as an employer, you want to bring someone on with experience so that you do not have to put the time, money, or energy into training even if their attitude is less than favorable – but is this the best approach?

For the employer, having negative attitudes and behaviors can have a detrimental effect on productivity or attendance. If an individual clashes with a coworker, they will be less likely to ask for help on a task if needed. This could also lead to employees becoming lazy about their quality of work due to the fact that they simply don’t want to be there. A negative person can sabotage a team daily, causing more harm than good. They cancel the value of their own experience with their lack of involvement or support.

While experience is undoubtedly important, it is not the only factor to consider when making hiring decisions. A positive attitude and kindness can go a long way in creating a healthy and productive work environment. Of course, it is always ideal to find candidates who possess both experience and a positive attitude, but when faced with a choice, you must decide how well will either candidate fit into you team. Experience can be necessary in some roles, however just because a person does not have outstanding experience (whether that is direct experience or a specific number of years) it does not mean they do not have the knowledge to create it. Having kind and compassionate people who are capable of performing is just as important in the workplace.

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