Build a more civilised workplace

In a 2007 article, The McKinsey Quarterly used the following example to make the point that nasty people don’t just make others feel miserable; they create economic problems for their companies:

“Lars Dalgaard is CEO and cofounder of SuccessFactors, one of the world’s fastest-growing software companies – and the fastest with revenues over $30 million. Dalgaard recently (2007) listed some milestones that his California-based company passed in its first seven years:

  • the use of its software by more than two million employees at over 1,200 companies around the world
  • the use of its software by employees speaking 18 languages in 156 countries
  • growth three times that of the company’s nearest competitor
  • enthusiastic recommendations of the product by nearly all customers
  • dramatically low employee turnover
  • employing no jerks

That’s right – no jerks – although the word SuccessFactors really uses (except on its website) is a mild obscenity that starts with the letter A and sort of rhymes with “castle.” All the employees SuccessFactors hires agree in writing to 14 “rules of engagement.” Rule 14 starts out, “I will be a good person to work with – not territorial, not be a jerk.” One of Dalgaard’s founding principles is that “our organisation will consist only of people who absolutely love what we do, with a white-hot passion. We will have utmost respect for the individual in a collaborative, egalitarian, and meritocratic environment – no blind copying, no politics, no parochialism, no silos, no games, – just being good!”

The problem of jerks and bullies in the workplace is a bigger one than you might think. They not only hinder recruiting and retention but also lose clients, damage reputations, and diminish investors’ confidence. Companies that harbour jerks may also suffer from reduced levels of creativity and innovation, as well as impaired or dysfunctional cooperation, within and outside the organisation – no small matter in an increasingly networked world. The author of the article, a Stanford University professor, argues that companies can take specific and interrelated steps to root out jerks and bullies and build a more civilised workplace.

Read the full article here – it makes thought-provoking reading!