Why the best employees are not the agreeable ones

This headline looks wrong.  We all know and, I suspect, most of us have worked with grouchy people.  And the notion that they are more valuable to the company than agreeable colleagues seems odd.

At least that’s what I thought.  But the headline on the Quartz news site came from a speech by a professor of psychology, and the piece continued by stating that workers can be separated along two axes: givers and takers, and agreeable and disagreeable.

“Givers share of themselves and make their colleagues better, while takers are selfish and focused only on their own interests.”

Now that sounds reasonable, and it is only when the next bit is added that the headline finally makes sense.  “Some workers are friendly, some are grouchy… there’s no correlation between being friendly and being a giver.”

In short, businesses that employ givers get the most out of their employees.  It doesn’t matter if they are agreeable or not. Although that’s not what our intuition tells us.

Now I mention this not just because it fascinated me (although that is part of the reason) but also because it is an example of a concept that on the surface doesn’t look right.

Here’s another one: adverts that don’t talk about the product straight away but focus on generating interest can often do much better than adverts which hit the reader with the offer from the start.

And here’s another: longer pieces which include a lot of text that most readers never see, can do better than short and to the point sales letters or emails.

This is why I always encourage our customers undertaking postal campaigns to try several different approaches at once in short run trials.  I also encourage customers undertaking email campaigns to try different adverts each time.

So the question arises, does writing my headline that says, “The best employees are not the agreeable ones. Workers who are grouchy yet giving in nature are often more valuable,” get more readers than one that says we will email schools for around £50 a time?

Possibly yes, because it is unusual.  If you want to get a couple of emails to schools before the end of term, and then put out two more in September, we can undertake that for you for around £50 per transmission for secondary schools.  Primary emails are £72.25 each.

Plus we’ll give you an extra email free at any time from the last week of July to the first week in September.

If you are interested there are more details on our website or you can call 01604 880 927 or email Stephen@schools.co.uk

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