Post Academic

Reading the No Asshole Rule So You Don’t Have To: Asshole Hiring and Firing

Posted in Surviving Grad School,Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on October 29, 2010
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionThe best way to stop assholes in the workplace is to avoid bringing them on board in the first place. Alas, assholes are often successful precisely because they are assholes, and others might think their bad attitudes are an asset. It can be tempting to hire an asshole if she has an eye-catching resume. But is it worth it if you run the risk that everyone in your office will bail or reduce their efforts? How do you keep assholes out?

Get involved with hiring. If someone is an asshole in the interview or has an asshole reputation, that person will be an asshole in your workplace. Don’t hire that person, no matter how prestigious. As Sutton writes, ” … negative interactions had a fivefold stronger effect on mood than positive interactions–so nasty people pack a lot more wallop than their more civilized counterparts.” Even if it means extra work for you to be involved with hiring, the results will be worth it.

Assholes breed assholes. Once you hire an asshole, other people in your workplace will act like assholes at worst or slackers at best to protect themselves. The asshole will also try to hire people who are similar to him- or herself. They know their behavior is wrong, so having more assholes in the workplace is insurance. Keep them off hiring committees. Sutton describes this situation in memorable fashion: “Assholes tend to stick together, and once stuck are not easily separated.”

More after the jump! Caricature of Boss Tweed by Thomas Nast from the 1870s. Image from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

People generally don’t change. This is more my rule, not Sutton’s. I’m sure people have changed their asshole ways, but usually after lots of therapy and/or brutal wake-up calls. Unless you are prepared to force an asshole into therapy or have the strength to fight the asshole (and you probably don’t because assholes thrive on power differentials), don’t hire the asshole or keep the asshole around.

Now, if you want a bigwig on your staff and don’t mind turning your place into a high-school cafeteria, be our guest, but don’t say you weren’t warned.

Our final installment for tomorrow … how to keep yourself from turning into an asshole!

One Response to 'Reading the No Asshole Rule So You Don’t Have To: Asshole Hiring and Firing'

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  1. James said,

    people don’t change—that one is true. the best management is to just hire good, nice people.

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