When “I Can Help” Means, “Run Away!”

When “I can help…” really means, “Run away!!!”

You know you’re starting to think about hiring like an employer, when…

You listen to an intelligent friend bemoaning her current circumstances.  Life is hard.  Money is short.  It’s hard to get a break.

And you hear a thought taking shape in your brain:  “You could come and work for me, once I get a little more business.”

The words, “I could hire you,” actually form, and you can feel them on the back of your tongue, somewhere around your molars, but before the phrase gets all the way to open air, your brain stops you.  “Not so fast.  Is this the kind of employee you want?  She’s always hoping for a break, and money is always tight, and she’s never done anything to create an opportunity for herself…  They could have started a business.”  What actually comes out of your mouth is something more along the lines of, “Yeah, it sure is tough out there.”

If your friends have resumes that would make Paul Graham sit up and take notice, sure, hire them.  But as Martin Brossman, social media and success coach, says, “When you’re a landlord or an employer and you hear yourself thinking, ‘I can help this person,” what that really means is “RUN!”

When it comes to hiring employees, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. People who elicit “I can help you” responses during a job interview will continue to elicit that response if they are hired.  This is NOT what you want to be thinking about your employees.  You WANT to be thinking, “I never would have come up with that solution by myself–I’m so glad I hired you!!”

One of the under-discussed challenges faced by many new employers is the effort required to maintain faith in “humanity” when the people they hire into their business turn out to have more warts than expected.  Don’t make this challenge any harder than it has to be by hiring people who tell you up front that they’re going to let you down.

When did you first catch yourself thinking about what the business needed, differently from how you would have responded?  Let me know in the comments! thx