Do You Have a 'No Jerks' Policy? - Wolf Prairie, LLC

Life’s too short to put up with a world class horse’s, uh, petute…

You know the type. Work jerks. Tyrants. Aggressive types with little regard for the people around them. These are the ones that get stressed and snap at others. These types justify rudeness and abuse if customer demands or financial pressure begins to build. Whether for apparent politically acceptable reasons or flat out self-promotion, being a jerk at work is NOT okay.

No Jerks Allowed

Jerks do tremendous damage to organizational health by creating an atmosphere of conflict, mistrust, and general cultural toxicity. Lower level jerks create an unpleasant work environment. High level jerks make it unbearable. At lower levels, jerks usually get what’s coming to them as those in authority tire of the drama caused by interpersonal conflict. At higher levels, jerk behavior will sometimes linger as it masquerades as ‘decisiveness,’ ‘urgency,’ and ‘action orientation.’ Eventually, however, even executive jerks destroy their own careers when something they say or do crosses the line, or offends someone with the power to get changes made.

Fire the Superstar

It’s an easy call to get rid of the jerk that’s an average or below average producer. But what about the guy that consistently hits his numbers and produces great results? This is a harder call, and one that requires leaders to invest in the future of the organization even if it hurts in the short run. While difficult to quantify, getting rid of jerks will benefit the organization in the long term. As with physical health, exercise routines and special diets can be unpleasant, but the health and fitness benefits pay off in the end.

My experience shows that relationships at work are critically important. When employees enjoy the people with whom they work, feel accepted and liked, and have friends in the workplace, they tend to be much more happy, productive and loyal. Since our organizations depend on our people for growth and performance, we should be very interested in cultivating relationships at work.

Defining and implementing a ‘no jerks’ policy is a great way to show employees that you are serious about building a workplace that is fun, productive, healthy and safe.

Jeffrey J. De Wolf is the founder and managing principal of Overland Park based Wolf Prairie, LLC ( He has a passion for diagnosing organizational health issues and prescribing practical, business-oriented solutions. He can be reached at or 913-219-5353.

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