As I’m sharing this story with you, about how I hired my friend – whom we’re calling Sparkly – who turned out to be unqualified and then turned the whole office against me, Mike keeps reminding me of things I’ve blocked from memory.
Like the time we took personality tests at a staff retreat, and almost everyone tested about the same – each big into the emotion stuff, with a strong aversion to conflict. That’s kind of the norm for nonprofits, I’ve found. People who want to do good things for crappy pay tend to be all about the feels.
Except Sparkly. Sparkly tested high on the opposite end of the spectrum, in the case of this particular personality test: motivated by fun with a tendency toward bossiness assertiveness. Go figure, huh?
It seems weird today, but there was a time when “out of the office” truly meant incommunicado. And once, about 15 years ago, I left town for a family vacation and a much-needed recharge, and had not one shred of news from the office for at least two weeks. It was bliss.
A couple of months earlier I had made the horrible decision to hire my friend, Sparkly. In my defense, she had looked good on paper, and her references – all from people I knew and trusted – were stellar. But in close quarters, her boisterous behavior and machine-gun laugh put me on edge. She had no work ethic and I started to suspect she lacked even the rudimentary skills to do her job. What she did have was an ability to get people to do things for her. She was just so … Sparkly. Everyone wanted to be part of her retinue.
The problem was how to manage her. There had to be a way to utilize her strengths and … well I didn’t know what the heck I was going to do about the other stuff. But I returned from my trip resolute, sure I could turn things around with a good attitude and a stiff upper lip.