Baird, the financial services firm, took the principle a step further by codifying it in policy. Employees are informed during their orientation of the company’s “no asshole rule” — it’s even written into training material. Leslie Dixon, the head of human resources, has fired people for violating it.
“By putting it out there in print and talking about it when they’re onboarded and throughout their career, it fosters a very open conversation about behavior that’s not illegal but that can be uncomfortable,” Ms. Dixon said.
Like the team at Strategyzer, the enforcers of Baird’s policy realize rudeness isn’t an immutable trait. People aren’t fired for slip-ups. Even Beth Kavelaris, director of culture and integration at the company, said she got feedback years ago that helped her rethink her own conduct.
“It was from my boss, who said, ‘You’ve got to learn to listen better, Beth,’ and I think I interrupted her while she was telling me that,” Ms. Kavelaris recalled. “I’ve gotten better. I haven’t been told that in a long while.”
Last month, Mr. Garg, who had fired 900 people over Zoom, posted an apology to his Better.com team. “I failed to show the appropriate amount of respect and appreciation for the individuals who were affected,” he wrote, and he pledged to do better. The note concluded with a promise to be transparent and share 2022 goals.
His reckoning came at a moment when nearly every company shares the same goal: keeping talent. Nobody can hit metrics if they don’t have a staff.
And many are realizing that there’s nothing that thins out a work force like misbehavior. Ms. Darrisaw, for example, of C-Suite Coach, helps companies assess how they can improve their culture. “Are more people trying to leave certain teams?” she asks clients. “That often tells you what the management style is like.”
Sometimes workers can name and shame their meaner colleagues — but in other cases, that job falls to those resigning instead. Which means quitting season might spell trouble for the jerks.