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Whole Foods CEO says his least favorite employee is the know-it-all and career experts agree for this reason

Lloyd Lee,Erin Snodgrass   

Whole Foods CEO says his least favorite employee is the know-it-all — and career experts agree for this reason
  • Whole Foods CEO Jason Buechel told CNBC that he values flexibility from his employees.
  • Career experts agree that this quality is important as CEOs are always looking for innovation.

Whole Foods CEO Jason Buechel told CNBC Make It that his least favorite employee in the workplace is the know-it-all.

"Somebody who thinks they know the answer to absolutely everything," Buechel told the outlet. "Somebody who thinks that it has to be exactly like this because this has always happened before. It's always going to happen this way."

The CEO of Amazon's grocery chain said being open to other people's ideas is crucial for career growth.

But he admitted in the interview that he faced a similar pitfall.

"I sometimes could have been that person in my past, on certain things," Buechel said. "And I learned the hard way that you have to be flexible, especially in today's world. Our customers' demands are changing all the time, things are always changing the business."

Career experts agree that being open to new ideas and flexibility is important for employees — and they say this virtue should also be applied to leadership.

"It's equally critical for leadership to be open to new ways of doing things and to support their teams in implementing innovative solutions, and it's not just about employees who don't want change," Prerika Agarwal, the founder and CEO of Inspiration Careers, told Business Insider in an email, adding that she often encountered employees frustrated by leaders who were resistant to new ideas.

Katherine Kirkinis, a career coach for Wanderlust Careers, told BI that being knowledgeable isn't an inherent flaw, and the underlying issue is failing to be open to other people's ideas because of it.

"You may be incredibly intelligent and well versed in your field, but that doesn't mean you can't learn something new from anyone (even someone who is much younger or in a lower-ranked position)," she wrote. "The smartest people know this and are always listening, curious, and trying to learn something new from absolutely everyone they encounter."

Kirkinis added that flexibility is also a key trait since a CEO or a company would want innovation.

"If you figured out one way to do something and it works, fabulous," she wrote. "Perhaps there is a way to improve on that, or make it more efficient. Curiosity and innovation are key — if you are working with someone who does their job and never innovates, that can be satisfactory, but you can make yourself irreplaceable to a company or team if you innovate and take initiative."


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