An HR exec who's worked at Facebook and Amazon says top tech companies are no longer satisfied with candidates who can play nice with others
- Former Facebook and Amazon HR exec Bharath Jayaraman says top tech companies value people who can collaborate effectively.
- That means knowing how to argue and disagree respectfully.
- It's critical that your coworker should never question your commitment to the team or the product during the conflict.
Netflix prizes employees who are "extraordinarily candid." Amazon, those who are "vocally self-critical" and able to "disagree and commit," i.e. forge ahead on a project even if they don't currently support it.
Top tech companies are increasingly looking for people who, in the spirit of pushing the organization forward, know how to argue effectively. If you're just going to nod your head and smile at every idea that comes your way, you're probably not welcome.Bharath Jayaraman, who has worked in human resources at Facebook and at Amazon (he's currently the vice president of people at Paxos) said every company has its own "flavor" of collaboration. But he's noticed that, at least at the places where he's worked, collaboration is defined as "being able to have arguments, disagree, have difficult conversations" - respectfully.
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The key to effective collaboration - and to earning coworkers' trust - at these companies, Jayaraman said, is to communicate that you're committed to improving whatever product or process you're working on. The "critical" piece, he added, is for your conversation partner to walk away saying, "I may or may not agree with you, but I don't question your intent."
A few years ago, I reported on research published in the Academy of Management Review, which found that the ideal form of workplace conflict is a debate about the issue at hand, as opposed to personal attacks or behind-your-back office politics. Yet not every workplace is home to this healthy conflict style.
"Agreeing with people and being cohesive is actually easy," Jayaraman said. "Disagreeing with people and still being cohesive is hard."