Values, Beliefs, and Chicken Sandwich Performance

I started this post on the relationship of values and beliefs to job performance a few months back, but I think the relationship to product performance is similar.

One of the reasons some experts suggest you don’t review a candidate’s social media presence is that there is likely to be very little to learn about their potential job performance. You might argue that if someone maintains a blog and a twitter account that are focused on their work, then it has some direct implications. And it could.

If I were applying for a job today, and in the course of the interview someone asked me about my blog, or about something that I had commented and linked through on Twitter, I would not be surprised. I might be disappointed if they didn’t. I would likely have mentioned the blog to any recruiter involved in the process, and I connect right to my blog via my LinkedIn profile. I would point them to my safety blog as an indication of how I think about manufacturing safety, and how I have attempted to influence others to bring a higher level of safety performance to their leadership roles.

But if they searched a bit deeper, maybe looked at my Facebook account, they might find something that has nothing to do with a position that I apply for, but that they might have a bias about. Even looking at LinkedIn, they would see the normal professional groups, but they might also see that I am a member of a group connected to my high school, a Jesuit Preparatory school in Cleveland. If they had a bias about religion, they might have adjusted my score a little at uncovering that. My stock might have gone up or down, but with no real basis in job performance.

Part of the problem with the interview process is that it gives us little time to learn everything we might like to know. We would like to know at least something about a candidate’s beliefs and values – what are they willing to stand for when the going gets tough. Some of us have interview questions that try to get at that, but candidates can be pretty well rehearsed. So we focus on the performance questions, seek the appropriate support references if needed, and make the most informed decision we can make. Let the background check and drug test find anything I couldn’t get to otherwise.

We can talk about them, we just don’t want to acknowledge the brand.

I work with a lot of people whose values and beliefs don’t completely align with mine. There is general alignment, but a lot of differences. And that is powerful. While I have had many disagreements with coworkers over the years, they led most times to better solutions. In all the recent discussion about a certain Atlanta-based fast food chain and their COO’s public views on marriage, I’ve heard good discussion and some debate. Frankly, not so much debate. There is no talk about free speech, but of narrow mindedness. The Muppets are heroes, and the cows are losers. Brand vs. Brand. I think that’s a problem. The story that drove this home for me this week is the one about the franchise owner in Hollywood who has had to separate the image of the restaurant from that of the COO.

The brand has a lot going for it. The founding family has long connected it’s personal beliefs and convictions to the brand. I don’t know if people were more outraged by the COO’s statements, or by the fact that he has that particular conviction. Certainly it is not a surprise.

Most of us don’t know much about the CEOs and the COOs of the companies that make the things we consume. If we felt obliged to only buy from those whose values and beliefs most closely connected to our own, we would not have the time to do the research involved.

Have a coworker’s values or beliefs caused you to cease all interaction with them? If it were your COO, would you quit over this? Do you rate all purchases on this basis, or on product performance?

For the record, I’m not going through that particular drive-thru. To be truthful, I rarely did. They won’t miss me.

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