April 19, 2011

Beware of Assholes

What is an asshole?
  • Someone who either intentionally or unintentionally infuriates/demeans/damages their peers/superiors/underlings.
  • There are two flavors: Temporary and Certified assholes. A temporary asshole is someone who is probably having a bad day or a bad moment. Certified assholes are persistently nasty and destructive jerks.

Why are they dangerous?
  • Remember how they can damage people? well, at times that includes clients and customers.
  • They undermine organizational performance.
  • Asshole poisoning is a contagious disease that anyone can catch. Once you unleash disdain, anger and contempt or someone else unleashes it on you, it spreads like wildfire.

What should you care?
  • The total costs of assholes are HIGH. From loss of motivation, higher stress and turnover to legal and HR management costs like inside and outside counsel.
  • If you sap the energy out of people, you may be sucking the life out of your career.
  • When people feel mistreated and dissatisfied with their jobs, they are unwilling to do extra work to help their organization.
  • Writing, displaying and repeating words about treating people with respect, but allowing or encouraging the opposite behavior, is worse than useless. The organization and its leaders are seen as hypocrites, which fuels cynicism and scorn.
  • Organizations that drive in compassion and drive out fear attract superior talent, share ideas more freely, have less dysfunctional internal competition, and trump the external competition.

What should you do?
  • Adopt The No Asshole Rule.
  • Have yourself tested.
  • Get rid of assholes fast.
  • Treat certified assholes as incompetent employees.
  • Model and teach constructive confrontation.
  • Improve your hiring process. Recruiters tend to hire candidates who look and act like his or her favorite person on the planet- him or herself. Assholes will hire assholes.
  • Be like Google. Like Google, not "be" Google. They have a "Don't be evil" motto. The company works to screen them out in hiring, and nasty people suffer during performance evaluations and aren't promoted to management positions.

"The No Asshole Rule" by Robert I. Sutton is a must-read for anyone looking to make a difference in their workplace. It is a very entertaining book and quite a learning experience.

This post contains information found in:
The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't

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