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How do you treat junior-level employees?

As a young entrepreneur, I was in a VC’s office asking for money. He took a call from one of his portfolio companies and chewed out the CEO. In front of me.

I should have walked out of the room. I didn’t have the experience at the time to appreciate that he was an ass and having him as an investor would have been a living hell. Luckily for me, he didn’t invest in us.

Manners matter. Pay close attention to how people treat those who are junior to them. The great test: Anyone who is a jerk to a secretary or a waiter.

We have a fake head of HR named Preston Firestone. Job seekers call and ask for Preston (who is never there, of course). We listen to how they treat the person who answered the phone. Preston has saved us again and again from someone who would have been hired, but was actually a complete prick.

Don’t do good deals with bad people. (Don’t do bad deals with anyone.)

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  1. Greg Marshall September 30, 2013 at 9:14 am #

    I worked for a college as a Director for 17 years. One secret to my success was I treated everyone equally. Everyone has a hand in making a business a success and everyone has a small part in making you a success.

    The lower-level people in a business get stuff done. I can’t tell you how many times staff in lower level positions have helped me.

    You should always take time to get to know lower-ranking staff and honestly treat them with respect. Anyone who can’t do that, doesn’t belong in your business.

  2. Chris Kennedy November 28, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

    As someone who’s spent plenty of time in the trenches below management level, I have found how someone treats those who are (hierarchically) “below” them to be a great test of the type of person they are.

    I’ve had bosses who bully their staff but kiss up to clients. Does this build respect, morale or engagement? Take a guess.

    I have also had one or two fantastic bosses who treated me as their equal, listened to what I had to say and gave consideration to my views. Needless to say, these were the relationships and jobs that I put my absolute best into.

    Wish there were more around.

  3. Jennifer Howell February 12, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

    I’ve been an office manager who sits at a reception desk for the past decade and every single interview that comes in (regardless of the position), deals with me first and every single time, the hiring manager will ask for my “first impression thoughts” because if hired, that person would see me every single day.

    People who have impressed the crap out of everyone but treated me like poo on their shoe will more often than not get hired because of my feedback.

    (btw – I’m applying for the OM/EA spot in Chicago and kinda love that Preston is fake.)


  1. Likability and Job Interviews | The Right Candidate - December 2, 2013

    […] startup has gone so far as to create an imaginary HR person on LinkedIn. When prospective candidates call the company to ask for the imaginary HR person, they are […]

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