Updated: Oct 29, 2019
Ten years ago, a book debuted that changed everything. “The No Asshole Rule”, is a survival guide to maneuvering horrific corporate culture. Here at Samuelson Furniture, we’ve been espousing this essential rule for four generations.
Author and Professor Robert Sutton is returning this September with a new volume called “The Asshole Survival Guide.” As the patron saint of NO ASSH$#%S™, Professor of Management Science and Engineering and Professor of Organizational Behavior (by courtesy) at Stanford, we wanted to confirm that here at Samuelson we’re living up to our NO ASSH$#%™ promise. So, we sat Sutton down with our CEO Lawrence Chalfin for an in-depth conversation about the business of ASSH$#%S™, what to do about them, and to be sure our lives are ASSH$#%™ free.
According to Sutton, we can all be ASSH$#%S™ from time to time. But it’s those that stay stuck in that mode that become certified ASSH$#%S™. Those people can destroy workplace moral, causing good people to under perform. “People suffer physical and mental health problems, and are more likely to quit, when you have certified ASSH$#%S™ around,” said Sutton.
Chalfin knows his fair share about ASSH$#%S™. Though the hospitality business is remarkably low on total ASSH$#%™ count, he learned early on that ASSH$#%S™, ASSH$#%™ everything up. That results in not just bad attitudes, but sub par work.
“I came around to this No ASSH$#%S™ thing while doing a presentation for a large design firm years ago. Without warning, that team started talking about an ASSH$#%™ within their company causing many detrimental issues in the organization. I don’t think they remembered I was there, but then it hit me. I told them I don’t have a single ASSH$#%™ that works for me,” said Chalfin. “We got the deal and a long-lasting relationship too. And yes, that company is now ASSH$#%™ free.”
ASSH$#%S™ Ruin Everything!
Chalfin points out he feels a single ASSH$#%™ can pull an entire organization down, as a caustic individual makes everyone feel on edge, and takes focus away from necessary tasks.
Sutton agrees. He points out his research on this topic points to an incredible drop in overall performance of upwards of 40%. What an ASSH$#%™ thing to do!
“When you have someone on your team that’s an ASSH$#%™, you deal with them and not the work. Bad behavior is contagious, especially if it’s the boss. If you have a bad encounter with the boss, it has five times the effect on mood compared to good encounter. That poisons the work atmosphere in general,” said Sutton.
Don’t Hire ASSH$#%S™
If something doesn’t seem right during the hiring process, beware of an ASSH$#%™.
Chalfin says it’s up to everyone in the company to contribute to a positive work environment, starting with him at the top. Then it trickles down to everyone else. “What you give off; that’s the feeling you engender in people. I try to set up an atmosphere where anyone can say anything to me; if they say it in the way they’d want me to say it to them. That is true of the entire organization and all our people.”
Sutton agreed, urging people to not confuse the NO ASSH$#%™ rule with eliminating conflict. Conflict is an inherent part to success. After all, if everyone agreed on everything, we would lose a valuable way to push each other to greater success. “It’s about treating people with respect so there’s a safe space for constructive conflict. That’s the highest level of human exchange, rather than baiting and ignoring each other.”
Both men think it’s an absolute must to send ASSH$#%S™ to the cornfield; no matter the amazing results he or she appears to deliver. “If they stomp around, and hurt people along the way, give them warning. But fire them if they are abusive or if they must be repeatedly warned,” said Sutton.
Strategic ASSH$#%™ery Can Work
“None of us are perfect, and we can all be an ASSH$#%™ sometimes,” said Sutton, acknowledging that sometimes being an ASSH$#%™ can actually be a positive thing. Say what now? !?
“Sometimes when people commit appalling actions, or you have motivational problems, expressing ASSH$#%™ emotions may be the best thing to do,” he said.
Sutton gives the example of a sports coach. If you’re an ASSH$#%™ constantly it’s simply not effective. The message the coach is trying to share is ignored. But if that coach is typically calm and collected, and is an ASSH$#%™ strategically, it can shake the team out of their stupor and get them to perform.
Celebrating No ASSH$#%S™
Samuelson is so dedicated to its NO ASSH$#%S™ philosophy, they even made a series of videos about it, something Sutton loved. “It is funny and wonderful. It really warms your heart because it comes off really authentic,” Sutton Said.
“It is not a put on,