Book Review: The No Asshole Rule

The No Asshole RuleWhen 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.

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12 thoughts on “Book Review: The No Asshole Rule”

  1. Successfactors, a Californian HR company make every new hire agree to 12 rules of workplace behavior, including a

  2. this book needs to be distributed to the military. i been in the military for 18 years and I know from experience is this… The only thing that makes a job harder then it is is an asshole.

    does not matter where you are in the world doing whatever job the military has to offer, chasing pirates, terrorist in a cave, fueling planes whatever the job is WHATEVER that job is the only thing that makes it that bad is putting an asshole in the mix. They should issue this book in bootcamp and to every commanding officer in the DoD.

  3. I used to work for a great company for three years before deciding it was time to get out.

    I left because of our division head-a VP was a major AH (and he hired a lot of AH’s to head departments. Sadly,our division had a bad reputation.) I left the company when I found out, my great female boss was to be replaced with the VP’s hand picked primo female AH ( 1 year later this cow had to be escorted out of the company’s HQ by security. I worked with this women on several projects and there was no way I wanted her as a boss.)

    Sutton’s right, AH breed AHs! Whilst I was there, my division lost 7 quality hard working people in my same age demographic-mid 20’30’s-including me. Plus, a further 4 people after I left, of various age groups. With so many AH in our division, they single handedly drove away a lot of knowledge and talent.

    The people that were left behind in my division were other AH, hired by the VP who brought in more AHs. And sadly, Sutton’s right again on this point, The other type pf people left behind the weak and vulnerable who where either close to retirement or had to stay in the area due to family.

    Thankfully, in the end the company forced him into retirement and got rid of a lot of the people he brought in. Many who were not even qualified for the position they were hired for, anyway. I know for a fact that the all the inept AH brought in personally by this VP cost the company $100,000 of dollars in errors and mistakes.

  4. Bought this book after seeing a review in an in-flight magazine of all places. It really touched a nerve as we had our fair share of AH business partners and had almost decided that the only way to get ahead was to be one ourselves!
    The book clearly outlined that AH’s reap what they sow – no friends, no loyalty, no respect, no productivity and no fulfillment.
    We’ve now found a company to partner with who have as much honesty and integrity as us. By their own culture they repel AH’s. The book has helped us identify AH’s quickly and to limit their destruction on our own business and those around us. Definitely worth having.

  5. Just red this book,

    It still reminds of me the nasty things i experienced in my previous work, and it affected quite much. Even after i quit my job, now in 3 months time, i still feel anxiety.

    First, the boss in the company was a high temper, no respect and in dilemma person. When something happens, he never talks to the person who occurred the problem. So there must be a middle person to fix the problem. I was most of the time the ‘middle’ person who took the all blames and tried to say nice to the other person. I do not know if this is sick japanese culture, i tortured me for a quite long time.

    Second, the ‘kind of’ manager with no experience of professional education about business or human resource is another bomb in the office. i always had to follow kind of their office rule which is not included in australian employee law. He often talked to me about his personal life that i do not want to involve. I was afraid that if i am not listening i will have threat for my job.

    Third, the outsider, the tax accountant who advised me to sponser me. I thought she is a nice lady, but end up with she listens only my boss’s ridiculous one side opinion and judged me without not knowing what disgusting things happened in the company. So she just wanted to use me, let one person does six people’s job.

    So basically there was no rules at all, no job descriptions, no fairness and no respect. and also some sneaky people who try to make their own profits and demean others at back. It was so cruel to see people’s dark side, selfish, rude and miserable.

    It is a great choice to leave the company, even though it took me for a while. Time will heal, good positive minds will heal me.

    Run when you cannot take it or solve it.

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