Monday, May 5, 2008

No A**holes Allowed

Through the years I've worked with a lot of talented people. I've also come across my share of jerks as well.

Leadership development coach Paul Anovick reviewed a managment book by Stanford Professor Robert I. Sutton titled The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t (Warner Business Books, 2007).

This book is dead on. It details how debilitating a jerk in the workforce can be.

According to Sutton, everyday jerk behaviors include:

1. Personal insults and innuendo's
2. Invading one’s personal space or territory
3. Uninvited physical contact
4. Threats and intimidation, verbal and nonverbal
5. Sarcastic jokes, teasing and disguised insults
6. Email flames
7. Status slaps intended to humiliate
8. Rude interruptions
9. Two-faced attacks
10. Dirty looks, grimaces, eye-rolling
11. Treating people as though they’re invisible, keeping them out of the loop

To qualify as a true jerk, one must display a persistent pattern and a history of episodes that lead others to feel humiliated and disrespected. And a boss who’s a jerk often causes anger, frustration, high turnover, absenteeism and, in extreme cases, violence.

A jerk poisons more than one victim. The damage spreads to coworkers, family members and friends who watch or hear about attacks, creating a larger pool of secondhand sufferers. The result is devastating, zapping people’s energy and causing absenteeism, loss of productivity, high turnover, depression and disengagement.

Top 10 Rules for Enforcing a “No Jerks at Work” Rule

Having all of the right business philosophies and management practices in place to support the “no jerks at work” rule is meaningless unless you treat the person right in front of you, right now, in the right way. It’s the little things that make the big differences:

1. Say the rule, write it down, and act on it. If you have a policy, make sure you act on it.
2. Jerks will hire other jerks. Don’t include them in hiring decisions.
3. Get rid of jerks fast. Organizations generally wait too long to fire jerks.
4. Treat certified jerks as incompetent employees. Even if people perform extraordinarily well and achieve great results, persistent meanness should be equated with incompetence.
5. Power breeds nastiness. Giving people even a little bit of power can turn them into big jerks.
6. Embrace the power-performance paradox. Downplay and reduce unnecessary status differences.
7. Manage moments, not just practices, policies and systems. Change the little things, and big things will follow.
8. Model and teach constructive confrontation. Make sure people know when and how to argue respectfully.
9. Adopt a one-jerk rule. If you permit one jerk to stay, use a reverse role-model approach to remind people of what not to do.
10. The bottom line: Link big policies to small decencies. When people talk to one another and work together with respect, managing jerk behaviors is natural.

This book is a best seller and is getting rave reviews. Read Paul's review. Here.

Sutton has a great Blog too. Here.

Are you a certified asshole? Take the ARSE: The Asshole Rating Self Exam. Here.