Robert Baird Moves Up to #11 on Fortune’s Best Companies to Work For List — And Still Touts It’s No Asshole!

I stumbled across this post on Bob Sutton’s site, Work Matters. This article interested me when I noticed that the title said something about an asshole, so I decided to look more into it.  The writer of these blogs, Bob Sutton, has also written many books, one which is title  The No Asshole Rule.  This book in turn talks about how the workplace is infested with assholes and how they poison the working environment for everybody else.  Anybody who has ever had a working experience, you know exactly what he’s talking about.

Robert Baird is a private company that specializes in “wealth management, capital markets, asset management and private equity firm (http://www.rwbaird.com/about-baird/about-baird.aspx).”  In this years list of the “Top 10 Companies to Work For,” Baird moved up from 14 to 11.  Now this may not seem like a big deal, but the way this company operates is, and it’s how most companies should run as well.  The CEO of Robert Baird, Paul Purcell, runs his business the right way.  Bob Sutton interviewed him in 2008, asking him what kind of people he tries to remove from his prospective employees.  Purcell answered that anyone who thinks their own needs or wants are more important than the company’s or fellow employees does not belong in his company.

Sure this seems like the way that all businesses should operate, but we all know that’s not how it works.  The big shots at the top of companies didn’t get there by being nice to everyone, they had to step on toes somewhere, or in some cases, break legs and arms.  It’s hard to believe how the good guy always finishes last, but in the business environment, that’s sometimes how it works.  One needs to be an “asshole” to succeed at certain points.  There are many assholes in companies out there who got larger bonuses than most.  But is that how it should be?

These people act for themselves.  They care more about themselves than their fellow co-workers and even the company.  How can someone who operates in that way be so successful?  The answer….money.  People do anything they have to to get their hands on the green paper, whether it be dissolving friendships or hurting colleagues.  From my standpoint, I don’t understand how anyone could act that way.  I’ve worked with my fair share of assholes, and I can honestly say that I don’t understand how they got to where they are today.  Why anyone would want to work for or with an asshole is beyond me, and I don’t think we should have to anymore.

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2 Responses

  1. I agree with this post. But also, you cant get to the top by being the nice guy. The two aforementioned sentences seem to contradict, and admittedly, they do. But there is a happy medium. One should do everything they can to propel their self up the corporate ladder, within reason. This doesnt mean screwing a fellow employee, but it doesnt hurt to make friends at the top. Good post.

  2. This reminds me of one of my favorite sayings: What goes around comes around. Being an asshole might be beneficial in the short run, but once you are on the other side of the river and you need to get back, you might find all your bridges burned to the ground. I am a firm believe that hard/fair work eventually pays off, and its usually the assholes that take shortcuts to the top, only to find themselves lost or dead in the corporate jungle.

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