Kathy Sierra's bad marriage metaphor dead on for employees, too

Day 1You don’t need me to sit here and prattle on, yet again, about how much of a genius Kathy Sierra is. If you do, I’d be happy to do that. But I won’t until you ask. (Maybe I’m just tittering on about her, this time, because we both just used the marriage metaphor in blog posts. Who knows?)

But please go read Creating Passionate Users: Too many companies are like bad marriages. And think about it.

It’s been said that the secret to a good marriage is… don’t change. In other words, be the person you were when you were merely dating. Don’t stop paying attention. Don’t stop being kind. Don’t gain 50 pounds. Don’t stop flirting. Stay passionate, stay sexy, stay caring. Answer their calls. Unfortunately, too many companies are all candle-lit dinners, fine wine, and “let’s talk about you” until the deal is sealed. Once they have you (i.e. you became a paying customer), you realize you got a bait-and-switch relationship.

Brilliant, yes. But there’s one business relationship missing from her list. I mean, isn’t this relationship structure the same for most businesses and their employees?

How much energy do companies spend on the hiring process? Tons! Literally. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been through the “talk to these 20 people who really, really care about you and go out to lunch with 10 others who really want you to work here” only to wind up somewhere that the company couldn’t really seem to care less about the employees.

In fact, it seems to work in an almost inverse proportion. It seems I’ve had to go through more interviews to get incarcerated in a hostile environment, than I do to get hired into a good company.

Why is this?

Well, the cynical side of me says misery loves company. But, the real reason may be the same reason we all get nice around the holidays. It’s the one time you can be nice and polite–and be encouraged to do so.

For most employees, the interview process is the one time that they get to treat people how they would like to be treated. The one time the business encourages them to be respectful rather than combative.

In other words: they’re using customer acquisition practices to acquire employees.

Read Kathy’s Too many companies are like bad marriages. And think about it.

Maybe we need to start using “customer satisfaction” metrics as one our prerequisites for choosing our next employer?

About Rick Turoczy

More than mildly obsessed with the Portland startup community. Founder and editor at Silicon Florist. Cofounder and general manager at PIE. Follow me on Twitter: @turoczy
This entry was posted in Corporate Culture, Employment, Hiring, Passion. Bookmark the permalink.

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