the gift of fear

View The Gift of Fear details at AmazonI’ve been writing here recently about the vampires in the workplace – the workplace bullies that wreck havoc with the lives of individuals and their whanau, and in the process negatively affect the image and profitability of a business. Even if your business is a ‘not-for-profit’ there are few enterprises that run without money – if that money comes from the government rather than from sales it doesn’t really make that much difference – a good, robust public image – a positive reputation never goes astray.

I’ve written previously that the issue is lax HR processes invites the vampires in – the standard questions at interview time coupled with a strong self image serve to cloak the vampire; in particular when the kinds of attributes a vampire has are also the kind of attributes often seen as desirable in sales and management fields. In Gavin De Becker’s ‘The Gift of Fear’ he includes a number of questions that help reveal potential employee’s negative attitudes, and may help shine a light on vampires as well. De Becker specialises in personal security – when Beatle George Harrison was stabbed by a stalker it was ‘family friend’ Gavin De Becker who made the public statements. The copy of ‘The Gift of Fear’ I read (available from many libraries) said on the cover something to the effect of ‘Once you pick this book up you won’t put it down until you’ve read the whole book’. I thought, ‘yeah, right’, but a few hours later I had to agree.

Ok, so the kinds of questions. Typically the vampire has a really strong sense of their own worth, and it’s worth asking a few questions that probe just a notch further. The following are some of the questions – the interpretation of the answers is outlined in the book.

Describe the best boss you ever had.
Describe the worst boss you ever had.
Tell me about a failure in your life and tell me why it occurred.
What are some of the things your last employer could have done to be more successful?
Did you ever tell your previous employer any of your thoughts on ways they could improve?
What are some of the things your last employer could have done to keep you?
How do you go about solving problems at work?
Describe a problem you had in your life where someone else’s help was very important to you.
Who is your best friend and how would you describe your friendship?

De Becker states the goal is to disqualify poor applicants rather than to qualify good applicants. Those who are good will qualify themselves.

So what if the interview takes more than an hour. Or you have to have more than one. Interview on a weekend when you’re down to the last two. You’re going to spend 40 hours a week for the next 10 – 20 years with this person, why not spend a few extra minutes making sure this is someone everyone can get along with, PLUS will be acting safely with their colleagues and the business itself. Once you’ve got a vampire or two getting rid of them isn’t that easy. Take care, be safe.

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