The No Asshole Rule : Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't
Take the Self-Test and see if you are a certified asshole.
Are You a Flying ARSE? Do you make air travel miserable for everyone Else? Find out with a 24 Question Self-Exam.
Listen to an interview with Robert Sutton from TotalPicture Radio.
Called a "professional jerk buster" by The Today Show, Bob Sutton's unique, in-your-face business guide to help managers increase productivity by weeding out problem employees--and perhaps avoid hiring them in the first place.
Today's deluge of business books exhaustively addresses problems with leadership, corporate strategy, sales, budgeting, incentives, innovation, execution, and on and on. But scant attention is devoted to a problem that plagues every workplace: Assholes. In a landmark Harvard Business Review essay, Stanford Professor Robert Sutton showed how assholes weren't just an office nuisance, but a serious and costly threat to corporate success and employee health. In his new book, Sutton reveals the huge TCA (Total Cost of Assholes) in today's corporations. He shows how to spot an asshole (hint: they are addicted to rude interruptions and subtle putdowns, and enjoy using "sarcastic jokes" and "teasing" as "insult delivery systems"), and provides a "self-test" to determine whether you deserve to be branded as a "certified asshole." And he offers tips that you can use to keep your "inner jerk" from rearing its ugly head.
Sutton then uses in-depth research and analysis to show how managers can eliminate mean-spirited and unproductive behavior (while positively channeling some of the virtues of assholes) to generate an asshole free--and newly productive--workplace. Enlightening case studies include an analysis of how Google's "don't be evil" maxim helped launch the company to unprecedented early growth, how JetBlue and Southwest Airlines "fire" passengers who demean their employees, and how a "belligerent" e-mail from Cerner CEO Neal Patterson made his company's stock plunge 22% in three days (and how his graceful apology helped the stock bounce back).
This meticulously researched book, which grew from a much buzzed-about article in the Harvard Business Review, puts into plain language an undeniable fact: the modern workplace is beset with assholes. Sutton (Weird Ideas that Work), a professor of management science at Stanford University, argues that assholes--those who deliberately make co-workers feel bad about themselves and who focus their aggression on the less powerful--poison the work environment, decrease productivity, induce qualified employees to quit and therefore are detrimental to businesses, regardless of their individual effectiveness. He also makes the solution plain: they have to go. Direct and punchy, Sutton uses accessible language and a bevy of examples to make his case, providing tests to determine if you are an asshole (and if so, advice for how to self-correct), a how-to guide to surviving environments where assholes freely roam and a carefully calibrated measure, the "Total Cost of Assholes," by which corporations can assess the damage. Although occasionally campy and glib, Sutton's work is sure to generate discussions at watercoolers around the country and deserves influence in corporate hiring and firing strategies.
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1 . Excellent book
Posted October 11, 2010 by Jose Marte , Santo Domingo, Dominican RepublicIt's an excellent book about business relationships.
February 12, 2007
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Excerpt from The No Asshole Rule by Robert I. Sutton
What Workplace Assholes Do and Why
You Know So Many
Who deserves to be branded as an asshole? Many of us use the term indiscriminately, applying it to anyone who annoys us, gets in our way, or happens to be enjoying greater success than us at the moment. But a precise definition is useful if you want to implement the no asshole rule. It can help you distinguish between those colleagues and customers you simply don't like from those who deserve the label. It can help you distinguish people who are having a bad day or a bad moment ("temporary assholes") from persistently nasty and destructive jerks ("certified assholes"). And a good definition can help you explain to others why your coworker, boss, or customer deserves the label-or come to grips with why others say you are an asshole (at least behind your back) and why you might have earned it.
Researchers such as Bennett Tepper who write about psychological abuse in the workplace define it as "the sustained display of hostile verbal and nonverbal behavior, excluding physical contact." That definition is useful as far as it goes. But it isn't detailed enough for understanding what assholes do and their effects on others. An experience I had as a young assistant professor is instructive for understanding how assholes are defined in this little book. When I arrived at Stanford as a twenty-nine-year-old researcher, I was an inexperienced, ineffective, and extremely nervous teacher. I got poor teaching evaluations in my first year on the job, and I deserved them. I worked to become more effective in the classroom and was delighted to win the best-teacher award in my department (by student vote) at the graduation ceremony at the end of my third year at Stanford.
But my delight lasted only minutes. It evaporated when a jealous colleague ran up to me immediately after the graduating students marched out and gave me a big hug. She secretly and expertly extracted every ounce of joy I was experiencing by whispering in my ear in a condescending tone (while sporting a broad smile for public consumption), "Well, Bob, now that you have satisfied the babies here on campus, perhaps you can settle down and do some real work."
This painful memory demonstrates the two tests that I use for spotting whether a person is acting like an asshole:
- Test One: After talking to the alleged asshole, does the "target" feel oppressed, humiliated, de-energized, or belittled by the person? In particular, does the target feel worse about him or herself?
- Test Two: Does the alleged asshole aim his or her venom at people who are less powerful rather than at those people who are more powerful?
I can assure you that after that interaction with my colleague-which lasted less than a minute-I felt worse about myself. I went from feeling the happiest I'd ever been about my work performance to worrying that my teaching award would be taken as a sign that I wasn't serious enough about research (the main standard used for evaluating Stanford professors). This episode also demonstrates that although some assholes do their damage through open rage and arrogance, it isn't always that way. People who loudly insult and belittle their underlings and rivals are easier to catch and discipline. Two-faced backstabbers like my colleague, those who have enough skill and emotional control to save their dirty work for moments when they can't get caught, are tougher to stop-even though they may do as much damage as a raging maniac.
There are many other actions-sociologists call them interaction moves or simply moves-that assholes use to demean and deflate their victims. I've listed twelve common moves, a dirty dozen, to illustrate the range of these subtle and not subtle behaviors used by assholes. I suspect that you can add many more moves that you've seen, been subjected to, or done to others.