Friday, March 02, 2007

A Must Read: "The No Asshole Rule"

Although my carryon was weighing me down with books and I have more than enough to read at home in Korea, I couldn't resist getting The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't. Once it's in paperback, it'll be the book I buy for every college graduate or friend dealing with jerks.

Author Robert Sutton PhD at Stanford can't brook asshole-ism. He provides a reasonable, scholarly, accessible look at the cost of these jerks on businesses. Anyone who's dealt with a barbaric, out of control boss will recognize these characters and will get some validation that feeling crappy after an altercation isn't a sign of weakness. Each section contains data from studies on assholes (or corporate/academic bullies) as well as tecniques on how to cope and when to leave. It's a fast read and each chapter concludes with a checklist on the main points.

I thought is was interesting to learn that one company calculated the cost of keeping an a@#hole at $160,000, that there is a certain a@#hole tax in that some suppliers will charge you more if you've got a reputation as one, and that some companies will not promote such folks. Not only do the victims of abuse leave at a high rate, but those who witness abuse tend to leave a company.

Sutton urges companies not to hire them to begin with. He mentions that companies that value a humane work environment, try to weed them out through interviewing processes that allow people from all levels of the organization to screen applicants. It's time consuming at first but later pays off.

While a lot of this is common sense, when one's beaten down by a bully at work, this strengthens you, or did for me. It also reminds one that you're not alone. There are some great anecdotes of people who had flashes of verbal brilliance when dealing with assholes.

These jerks have been around forever. It's high time we had a sensible, analytic look at them.

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