Updated Apr 3, 2022 - Economy

Seeking the killers with humility at work

Illustration of a coffee mug with the Axios logo with steam forming a thought bubble

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We have a name at Axios for the ideal employee: killers with humility.

  • The aspiration is to find wildly talented and ambitious people (killers) who put others and the company first (humility).

Why it matters: A key and often under-appreciated ingredient of a killer with humility is extraordinary grace when things — or people — hit turbulence

Jay Timmons, who runs the National Association of Manufacturers, smartly pointed out the primacy of grace after reading our call to purge bad people from our lives.

  • “Sometimes someone is going through something horrific of which colleagues and managers are not aware,” he wrote.

Here are some ways to practice amazing grace at work:

1) Assume positive intent. Usually, people don’t do stupid things on purpose: Often they didn’t have a key piece of information, or were focused on the wrong thing, or just did something dumb.

  • This is a rerun for Finish Line regulars, but it changed our lives. We ask everyone at Axios to assume positive intent. It’s very hard to do in the moment, but it’s a game-changer for a workplace or a relationship.

2) Just ask. You never know what’s going on in someone’s life. Maybe they just got a horrible medical diagnosis, or had an awful bill come due, or had a relationship fall apart. If someone seems off or down, ask.

3) When shit happens, shine — and swarm. There is no better time to be a good person than when someone is suffering, be it sickness or mourning a death. Spring into action: send meals, flowers, prayers, offers of help. Too often we default to simply giving people space.

4) Words matter. In any given exchange, you can make someone feel good, or feel bad. It costs nothing more to make them feel good.

  • This doesn't mean duck tough conversations. It simply means, in most circumstances, you can give someone a nice psychic jolt with a compliment or kind word.

5) Say it, don’t write it. Texting is a terrible way to work through tension. Pick up the phone or pop on a Zoom.

The big picture: Be quick to run from bad people who don’t change, but even quicker to lift up good people who stumble.

Editor's note: This story originally published on March 31.

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