The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't

Book cover for The No Asshole Rule

The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't

Random House, 2007

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).

Selected Editorial Reviews
Robert Sutton, a respected 52-year-old Stanford University professor, is a gentleman and a scholar. But that isn't stopping him from making liberal use of an unprintable vulgarity to kick off his new campaign to jerk-proof the American workplace... he felt he needed to use an 'emotionally authentic' term to spur corporate America to stamp out boorish behavior that decreases productivity, drives away talented workers and destroys morale ...
Jessica Guynn, San Francisco Chronicle, February 24, 2007
... it's the definitive guide to understanding, counteracting, and not becoming an asshole...The book also explains how to implement a no-asshole rule in your company; how being an asshole can be a necessity, if not a virtue; and how to calculate the TCA (Total Cost of Assholes) ...
Guy Kawasaki's Blog: How to Change the World
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. (Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.)
Publishers Weekly
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