“I just have to work with you!”

You know that feeling – either as a hiring manager, new business developer, team lead, or just a candidate for an exciting new role. With some teams (or companies), you get this tingly feeling early on – slow realization that you have to work there.

With companies, it’s probably more common – companies are brands, and whether they are truly successful (or really good at imitating success), it shows on the outside, it’s attractive, contagious. You are drawn to companies that can project growth, innovation, confidence. Careful not to be blinded by the obvious draws – just because they can pay you more than other places, doesn’t mean it’s a better place. Indeed, money doesn’t buy happiness – you can be walking into a sweatshop. And you probably should do your homework anyway and ask current or past employees on how things run on the inside. But in those few situations when you’re drawn to a company for the right reasons, want to contribute to their product, their services and culture – you’re heading in the right direction. They’ll be happy to have you, they’ll support your onboarding, and grow with you, not just benefit from your time and skills in exchange for salary and perks.

Same goes with people – it just takes a little longer to read the right signs. As a hiring manager, I’ve had this tingly feeling plenty of times, and it’s a great sign – sitting across the table from a person who is grounded, skilled, motivated and most importantly, empathetic. If you can easily and confidently detect those qualities – you’ll want to work with that person, and my advice is – follow that instinct. Go back to managers or HR, and see if the salary for the role can be bumped up (yes, we all want to maintain realistic budgets, and are all trying to bring in talent for less money, but admit it – quality people are more expensive for a reason, so get your higher-ups to open the purse a little). At the same time, build a personal relationship with that candidate – see if there’s another way to get them into your team. A good candidate will usually look beyond compensation, so finding common ground should be easier. Just avoid groupthink and falling into a bro culture trap. Your ideal team (or co-worker) will fill in the gaps where needed, and not just going to be a copy of you (or your best skills).

So, ask yourself – how many times in the last year did you admit to yourself (or said out loud): “I just have to work with you!”

How about in the last three years? Are you still working with those people? My guess is yes, and I’m pretty sure you’re good friends beyond the workplace, too.

My point is – work with the people you like, or at the very least, like the people you work with – and that’s how you build culture that’s genuinely attractive to others. Healthy culture starts with those small, person-to-person bonds.

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