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The No Asshole Rule

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About the Author

ROBERT SUTTON is a Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University.


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. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Professor Sutton (organizational psychology, Univ. of Michigan; Weird Ideas That Work) provides a unique, in-your-face business guide to increasing productivity by weeding out problem employees and avoiding hiring them in the first place. Using numerous examples of behavior by jerks-they are demeaning, insulting, or abusive of others-Sutton explains the total cost of these "assholes" in today's corporations, and he shows how to spot one of them by their frequent use of rude interruptions, subtle putdowns, public humiliations and insults, sarcasm, and teasing. The author also wisely draws on research data to show how managers can eliminate this type of mean-spirited and unproductive behavior in order to generate a productive workplace. Case studies include the embarrassing, negative behavior of former business executives and government officials that became public, a description of how an analysis of Google's "don't be evil" maxim helped launch the company to unprecedented early growth, and the approach used by JetBlue and Southwest Airlines to evict passengers who demean their employees. This refreshingly new material is soundly narrated by the author and nicely supplements the business literature that predominantly focuses on leadership styles. Relevant for all organizations, this program is recommended for university libraries supporting a business curriculum and larger public libraries.-Dale Farris, Groves, TX Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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