No asshole rule

Posted: by HRNasty in Company Culture, Job Interview Tips, What Recruiters Really Think


no asshole rule

This is a no asshole zone

No Asshole Rule

The Company A**hole, we all know him or her, and every company has one. A blow hard, a know it all, someone who has all the answers and in their opinion is never wrong.  They think they are the life of the party and their shit doesn’t stink. I don’t think that most of these folks know they are a**holes and I don’t know how to help self identify if you are one. Half of the a**holes know they are asses and just won’t admit it to themselves and the other half wouldn’t believe it if they were told, so what is the use? I do know the effect they have on the rest of the team which is why so many companies have the self explanatory “no asshole rule”.  These people can make life miserable, demoralize teams and and in some cases make us want to quit. My advice for those of you that do work with one, (and we all do), is to try and not let it bother you. Easier said than done I know, but if Mr. BlowHard wins the lotto and leaves the company, or better, gets hit by a bus, another BlowPop will stick his head up and start the cycle all over again. If you think quitting your job and leaving will help, there will be a Dumb Ass at your next company or department. Trust me, I am a professional, I know a few things. 

If you are a reader of this blog, you know my other passion outside of HR is fly fishing for Steelhead in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia with a Spey rod. The other day, I was reminded of a actual story from last years fishing season when a good friend wanted to quit their job because of a DooFus that was making his life miserable. I thought it might resonate here as well.  

Every year I get together with a bunch of angler buddies in a large rented house we use as a base camp to go fly fish for Steelhead. Last year, I stayed there for about 5 days and during that time, anglers came and went. Some arrived before I got there, and anglers were coming and going after I left. Of course, the fishing picked up dramatically after I left but that is par for course. It was a revolving community, where everyone fished on their own or in small groups during the day, but every night, we all got together and sat around the dinner table family style to shared stories.  

I knew everyone there personally or by reputation and it was this way for everyone else. There were no strangers, and I went back a number of years with most of the guys. It was a pretty tight knit group. Till day 3 anyway.

Now granted, I was half sick because it was snowing, 24 degrees, and I didn’t get to eat my usual breakfast of country fried steak, gravy on the side, with hash browns and an over easy egg on the first day. Somehow, I started the morning of day one with only half of a toasted pop tart, a cup of coffee, and a bowl of fruit from a pull top can. No one else was complaining so I went with it, but my inside voice was screaming, “WTF? Who had grocery duty this week?”  We are on the water by 7:00 AM and by 9:00 AM I was feeling the effects of my empty stomach and low blood sugar.  I am sure that standing in a glacial melt river for the next two-days didn’t help, but that isn’t the point.

Doo-Dah arrived the third evening.  I was doing my best to relax in the bark-o-lounger in front of a big screen TV and a roaring fire watching some MMA. Life was as good as it can get fighting a cold after smoking 3-4 cigars a day with no fish to the hand.

I don’t know what it was, but I immediately didn’t like the guy. My recruiter Spidey sense went off. Within 10 seconds of him coming through the door, my internal Lights and Sirens were blinding and blaring. I wasn’t even facing the front door when he arrived. There was literally a “disturbance in the force”.  He was nice enough. He came around and introduced himself with the obligatory hand shake, but I just didn’t “feel right” about him and they way he announced himself. 

He was a guest of one of the veterans of our year traditional trip, and in the moment I just accepted it and went back to fight night. 

Not long after, I hear BlowHard explaining his fishing expertise to those that will listen. Thing is, he wasn’t just explaining, he was telling folks how good he was.  He was bragging how big his fish were and what exotic lands he had travelled to catch them. Most of us have been to all these places multiple times, so I wasn’t impressed. To the contrary, I was turned off.  I was actually asking myself, “Does this guy realize he is just a peanut in a house full of giants? Half these guys are published, and the other have have been written about.”   

During dinner our new guest dropped just a few too many F bombs. Again, I wasn’t just “un-impressed”, I was turned off. I am all for dropping an F bomb when appropriate, but as the new guy trying to make friends, I want to test the waters a bit first. Am I a prude???? Yes, there were a number of raised eye brows and some dirty glances shot in the direction of the guide that made the invite. 

After dinner, more of the same. “I am really good at this” and an “eff’n this and eff’n that”!

The next day, three of us are floating down the river in a drift boat. It is cold, the air is silent, and the mood is not just peaceful, it is Zen. There are a few inches of fresh snow on the tree branches, and the water is so flat, you can see the reflection of the shoreline in the waters edge. The moment of silence is broken with the single statement by Angler number 1.  “I didn’t like him as soon as I met him”, followed by a moment of silence and then Angler number 2. “I don’t think he will be invited back next year”. (Angler 2 happened to be in charge of the guest list). DOHHH!!!!

I thought this was all pretty interesting. As an HR guy, I always try to give the benefit of the doubt in any potential negative situation. Doo-Dah didn’t really do anything wrong. He had just driven for 6 straight hours by himself, was excited about the fishing and probably wanting to talk. He wasn’t that offensive. He swore a bit much for me, but in his defense, it is a fishing trip with 9 type A’s trying to put fish on the board and “me”, type B-. A couple of the guys are going through a divorce, about to get into a divorce or just coming out of a divorce and with this demographic I fully expect two things, toasts and F-Bombs.  

I couldn’t help but think if this were an interview (and it absolutely was), he wouldn’t have made it past round one. I don’t think he would have made it past reception. Obviously we shouldn’t come into the lobby of a company we are interviewing for and bust out with a “Fuckin’ great to be here folks, can’t wait to get this interview started.  Just got done interviewing down he street at Acme Publishing, and yeah, I nailed it!” But I wouldn’t have put it past this guy.  

It was an interview because in this small circle of anglers, this was a special group. I was stoked to be there because in this very niche circle, there were some heavy hitting anglers including professionals and published authors. In some very small circles they would be considered celebrities. (I don’t fall into either group, I hitched a ride on a buddy’s coat tails)  BlowHard somehow managed to piss off a number of folks in the first 20 minutes and I am confident he didn’t even know what effect he had on the group. 

So what is the lesson?  I am not sure.  All I can think of is “It is better to keep your mouth shut and let everyone think you are fool, than to open it and remove all doubt”.  It’s not a competition, and we don’t have to show everyone how much better we are.  Set the bar low and let everyone think you are a dumb ass then deliver some shock and awe of brilliance.

Whether it is a new group of people, a first date, or a job interview, try to avoid making it a competition where the goal is to show how you are better than everybody else. Approach it like a discussion where you are just as interested in finding out about everyone else rather than just showing the interviewer how over qualified you are. Everybody loves to talk about him or herself. We should also give the interviewers the opportunities to tell us how wonderful their company is and what they are looking for in a candidate. 

Don’t hire assholes and we’ll see you at the after party,

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone that is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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PS. I am proud to say that I work in an asshole free zone. 

Halloween Costume 2014

Posted: by HRNasty in Climbing Career Ladder, Company Culture, Manage your Manager, What HR Really Thinks
tasteless halloween costume

Inappropriate Halloween costume for work

It’s that time of year again. Halloween approaches and of course, it wouldn’t be an HRNasty Halloween if I couldn’t try and predict the tasteless Halloween costumes some fools will wear this year to work.  

This year will probably be a double whammy because Halloween falls on a Friday. Companies that specifically designate Dress Casual Friday attire will be in for a special treat because there are always those special few that that will feel the boundaries of “casual” have been extended because it is Halloween. For some reason, Dress Casual Friday combined with Halloween empowers extra freedoms of inappropriateness. How I wish for simpler times when costumes consisted of Dracula, ghosts, and witches.  Safer times when parents didn’t need to inspect the candy before little Johhny dug into the evenings spoils of war.

For those of you not familiar with the blog, every year around this time, I try to predict what CLM (Career Limiting Moves) will be committed via CLC’s, aka – Career Limiting Costumes.

2011 Halloween Predictions

2012 What HR thinks of Costumes worn to work

2013 Inappropriate costume cost employee their job

Imagine this scene: Johnny Dumbass comes to work sporting a number 27 Ravens jersey dragging a mannequin dressed as the football players fiancée. I have blogged how I like group costumes because it incorporates teamwork, but it is easy to cross the line.  If Johnny skipped the mannequin and Suzy Nosense shows up on Ray Rice’s arm sporting some bruises applied via makeup, the HR department suddenly became the unified group. The team in HR puts their hands to the middle of their athletic inspired huddle and on the count of three, the battle cry is heard through out the company. “Bitches, it’s on. Not on our watch!”

Throughout the morning, employees with camera phones swarm our Footballer couple like paparazzi. Various inappropriate poses are struck and our sports couple is feeling oh-so-chic. I imagine one of the poses is number 27 mimicking the coup de grace of an upper cut to the chin of his co-conspirator.  It’s a big distraction and work production has ground to a halt. 

Half way through the morning, over the company loudspeaker you hear, “Will Johnny Dumbass and Suzy Nosense please report to Human Resources as soon as possible? Johnny Dumbass and Suzy Nosense, please report to HR”. The entire company goes silent for a lonnnngggg extended second. All eyes slowly turn to Johnny and Suzy. Everyone is thinking the exact same thing. From a few departments away, we hear someone say it. “OOOHhhhhh shit”. You hear hushed whispers from various parts of the floor. Both culprits get up slowly from their cubicle and you are suddenly reminded of movie Dead Man Walking.

Johnny and Suzy knew they were pushing the envelope when they got delusional about their tasteless halloween costume. They laughed, they talked, and in the end, they mistook their laughter as mutual support and went with it.

It’s OK if you want to go out to your Halloween party as a pregnant nun. Come as Elvira, police officer or nurse with glitter and an abundance of cleavage / ass hanging out. Totally acceptable and please let me know where you will be partying if you are going as one of the last three.

Here’s the thing. Our employers are paying us to do a job. More specifically, they are paying us to make smart decisions. You may have just created a great report that saved your company a lot of money, but when it comes time to put names in a hat for the next big opportunity, guess who is going to be remembered for getting drunk at the company picnic or coming to work as an Ebola victim. You laugh, but back in my corporate America days, working in a financial institution, an employee came in as a victim of a hurricant that had just cost the company a lot of money and worse, it cost lives.  Yes, the costume was amazing costume. Tie flying back behind him held in place with a coat hanger. Hair done up to look like he was in 80 MPH winds. Small dead animals smashed flat on his body like bugs on your car windshield. And an uprooted traffic sign embedded in his body. Yes, it was very clever, but you know managers were thinking “If Johnny put half the effort into his career, he would be a superstar”. Unfortunately, inappropriate timing and a CLM via a CLC.      

Yes, I am turning into PreacherHR here. I can support alcohol, video games, and even massages in the workplace, But every year, there is a dumb ass that doesn’t realize he or she is cutting their career short by wearing a tasteless Halloween costume at an wrong time and the wrong place. The house of your employer would be that place and 9-5 would be that time.

Here is the thing. Very few HR departments will have the courage to pull the employee out of their desk, sit them down in a small room, place their index finger 3 inches in front of their face and wave that finger back and forth while asking “WTF were you thinking dumb ass”.

Very few managers want to spoil the fun when the costume is getting such rave (if not inappropriate) reviews and attention. No manager wants to be “that manager” and no HR department wants to be “that HR department”. Both will assume (OK they will pray) that the other is going to address the situation and at the end of the day, when nothing is done, a lot of the employees are offended and the offender in the tasteless costume goes home thinking he was Ms. Popular or Mr. BMOC.  Because nothing was done or said, everyone gets the idea that these types of costumes are “OK”. 

Unbeknownst to Ms. Popular and Mr. BMOC, the next time a big project, promotion, or the need to start a brand new department comes up, guess who’s name goes in the hat? Guess who’s name is quickly squashed because HR just played Whack A Mole with the candidate that came in dressed like a Black Box from Malaysian flight 370.      

If you think you are going to be pushing the envelope with your costume, you probably are. If you think for just a minute that your costume may be offensive, assume it will be and “don’t”.

There is a saying I like and have mentioned here a number of times.

Confucius say:

“It is better to keep your mouth shut and let everyone think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

Loosely translated for Halloween.

HRNasty say:

“It is better to come in your normal street closes and let everyone think you have no company spirit, than to arrive inappropriately dressed and have your company spirit and future opportunity removed by your employer.”

Before it happens, and I am confident it will, please don’t come to work as the following:

  • Ebola Victim
  • Ray Rice and a bruised Mrs. Rice “to be”. 
  • Missing Black Box from Flight 307

Totally not cool.

Costumes I do like:

Social Media:  Simple, color coordinated, and a strong showing of team work. These employees are probably promoting the company brand as well.

Tasteless halloween costume


Christmas Story theme, a movie classic

Tasteful and family oriented Halloween fun

Tasteful and family oriented Halloween fun for bringing kiddies to work


work Halloween costume

An unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good and can’t help but be admired

This Halloween, don’t be “that guy that got called down to HR over the loudspeaker”. Don’t be forgotten when future opportunities come up because you were remembered for the tasteless costume you came in. In the comments below, tell us what costume you expect to see at your company and give folks some ideas of how they can be remembered, both good an bad.

See you at the after party,

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone that is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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