Sunday, July 24, 2022

Agreeableness and Why We Won't Hire You

I am far enough removed from day to day operations to finally say this without anyone thinking I'm referring to them. The biggest reason a game store doesn't hire you (after repeated attempts), or let you run your volunteer event, is we simply don't want to work with you. 

A great number of our customers, more than the average business I would wager, are people with difficult personalities. They are disagreeable. Some will argue otherwise (they love to argue), but I do believe this trade brings in the more socially awkward and difficult folks. That's fine. We love all the misfit toys, being misfit toys ourselves. 

Game store employees are weird and awkward as well, but they have the added trait of being agreeable. When I hire an employee who is not agreeable, I always regret it. Being agreeable is an important personal trait for retail, just as much as being geeky and knowledgable about games. From Psychology Today:

Agreeableness is a personality trait that can be described as cooperative, polite, kind, and friendly. People high in agreeableness are more trusting, affectionate, altruistic, and generally displaying more prosocial behaviors than others. People high in this prosocial trait are particularly empathetic, showing great concern for the welfare of others, they are the first to help those in need. Agreeableness is one of five dimensions of personality described as the Big Five. The other traits are openness to experienceconscientiousnessextraversion, and neuroticism.

A good percentage of our customers, sometimes our best customers, are not agreeable. Being agreeable ourselves, we do what we can with disagreeable customers. We bend quite a bit in this trade dealing with them and their often difficult behavior. They say an employee doesn't quit their job, they quit their manager. In a hobby game store, if you ask former employees, they'll tell you they really quit the customers.

Something else to consider is perhaps 70% of our customers are male, and women consistently score higher in agreeableness than men. We have more men on staff than women, but this does mean that the average customer is probably not what we would look for in an employee, statistically.

"What about neurodiversity?" you might ask. People don't submit job applications like character sheets, so we generally don't know if someone is on the spectrum or otherwise neuro divergent. We can only go with our social interactions with them, and as everyone has to do every job, we envision them in customer service, often dealing with difficult customers. 

I want to be clear that some customers I really like. The thing I miss most about daily operations is the customers. There are a good number of customers I consider friends. Would I game with them? That's my barometer of friendship. Probably a dozen at least. I miss them dearly. 

There are other customers that are prickly, but I enjoy the sparring, the back and forth give and take. I wouldn't game with them, but I would gofundme a fifty for their cancer treatment. I appreciate their existence beyond monetary gain. There are some customers whom I feel I've barely survived their presence, that I've earned their business through painful social interaction. When I worked in the store, some of these customers would only want to talk to me. We had an understanding. Being an agreeable introvert, this is exhausting. Again, I still miss them. However, I wouldn't hire them.

I'll also mention that I personally like customers and even employees, that my manager at any given time, definitely does not appreciate. I see one side of people. Being a male store owner, I tend not to see unpleasant sexist or class based interactions. I have close friends who some staff feel look down on them, while seeing me as an owner, worthy of respect. That's troubling and I try to confront that. I am not the arbiter of cool, but as an employer, I can choose who I will work with. It's a small group of agreeable people.

I don't always hire agreeable people, but when they're not agreeable, they have a strong skillset I need. That's my advice to you, disagreeable one. Find a field that values you well beyond this one personality trait. I came from IT, a field populated quite often with disagreeable people. It was some good training for owning a game store.

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