When Bob Sutton started to write a book about the hidden costs of jerks at work he wanted to go full monty and call the book “The No Asshole Rule.”
Gasp! Yes! The A-word. He wasn’t writing about jerks or bullies – he was writing about flaming assholes and what they cost people and businesses.
His first choice of publisher, The Harvard Business School Press, were happy to publish the book if he would change the title to something less offensive. So he changed… publishers :o)
Once in a while a book comes along where you just immediately think “Yes! What a great idea for a book!” You know, the right book at the right time. A book that simply deserves success and wide recognition.
The No Asshole Rule by Bob Sutton is such a book. This book and Bob’s excellent blog have already generated massive amounts of well-deserved buzz, and I’d like to add my whole-hearted recommendation! It’s a great book, highly readable and massively important.
Why exactly have we tolerated jerks in business for so long? Bob convincingly demonstrates using surveys, psychological studies and anecdotal evidence that workplace jerks are far more trouble than they’re worth. They mat be getting results and making the numbers, but they do so at a huge cost to the rest of the organization and to the well-being of the people around them.
Not only that, but assholes breed. No, not with each other (a horrible thought in itself)! But not only do jerks tend to bring out the worst in others (creating more jerks) they also tend to hire jerks like themselves. Or they make sure to hire people who are too weak to oppose them.
The book has some very gripping (in the same way that car crash footage is gripping) stories of workplace assholes, including some flaming assholes like the Hollywood studio boss who goes through hundreds of personal assistants, firing them for such gruesome offenses as bringing him the wrong kind of coffee.
But more interesting than this, are the stories of workplaces that do NOT tolerate this type of behavior. Successfactors, a Californian HR company make every new hire agree to 12 rules of workplace behavior, including a “no asshole” rule.
I have always been convinced, that jerks should never be tolerated in a workplace. Quirky personalities are fine. Occasional disagreement and conflict are a necessity. We don’t all need to be slick, polished and on our best behavior all the time.
But the people who systematically abuse other people for their own gain or just for fun should never be tolerated and it’s nice to read in Bob’s book that more and more companies are coming to this realization and are implementing “no asshole rules.”
“The No Asshole Rule” is a great read and a crucial addition to any business library. Read it if your workplace is beset by assholes, if you’re afraid you might be one or if you just want to be convinced once and for all that jerks have NO place in a modern business.