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Don't hire intelligent, creative people

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Creative employees are nothing but trouble. Don't hire them, I tell you. Let the intelligent people go back to college or start their own business or bother someone else with their constant ideas and questions and high energy.

You can live without that trouble.

What's wrong with hiring smart people? Let me count the ways:

First, they shake things up. They aren't satisfied with the way things have always been. It's almost like they want to change. Change is such an effort. It's tiring. OK, so some wiseacres may say that you're in a rut. But it's a comfortable rut, and you really don't need to have it disturbed.

Things have worked out OK for you in the past. Surely the same tactics will work just as well in the future.

Second, smart employees ask too many questions. They are always looking at issues from several points of view. Some pointy-head professor may call that critical thinking, but you call it a huge waste of time. You don't need to consider a bunch of silly options and weigh advantage and disadvantages.

Objectivity and analysis may be fine on the ivy covered campus, but they're irrelevant in the real world. After all, you've got your gut feelings, and those gut feelings are way better than any amount of actual thought.

Third, they are right too darned often. You don't need some subordinate looking smarter than you. When their idea helps the organization, it makes you look incompetent, like you should have thought of it first. What could be worse than being shown up by some underling?

Fourth, they don't always do what they're told. You know what the job is. Your employees only need to do it. Get this. That idiot Steve Jobs once said that he hired smart people precisely because they didn't do what they were told; he said they told him what to do.

Well, what did Steve Jobs know about business anyway? He's the same guy who hired hundreds of unskilled, useless liberal arts grads. Fat lot of good that did. But that's a topic for another day.

Fifth, creative people need a reason to respect you. They don't get it - the fact that you are the boss is reason enough. You're in charge, and they are not. That's all they need to know.

It should not matter at all whether or not you know what you're doing, or if you have one iota of leadership qualities, or if you have accomplished anything in your career, or even if you are a likable sort. You're the boss. They should treat you with complete adoration and deference. But no, it's almost like you have to earn their respect. What a horrible concept.

Sixth and finally, they tend to attract interest - and job offers - from other companies. What a pain it is to keep them happy and challenged just so they won't run away to someone who claims to have an "employee-friendly" workplace, whatever the heck that is. But you, you are a genius, and you know the secret of low turnover: Hire the people that nobody else wants.

I say again, stay away from the smart, the creative, the motivated. Let someone else have them. Your little world will be serene when you hire those who will listen politely, follow your orders to the tee, and never, never, question anything you say.

Fred W. Spannaus, principal of Spannaus Consulting, is a senior professional in human resources. He loves feedback to his columns. Fred can be contacted by email at or by phone at 425-2635.


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