Jerks Need Not Apply
“Lars Dalgaard is CEO and cofounder of SuccessFactors, one of the world’s fastest-growing software companies … All the employees (he) 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 organization 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!'” — Robert Sutton, The McKinsey Quarterly, 2007 Number 2
Mr. Dalgaard is onto something. The advantages to his no-jerk policy are enormous. Bulls in the office are as dangerous as they are in china shops. Yet owners rarely deal with it. The consequences are staggering, both in terms of the emotional toll on brittle employees and in cold, hard cash.
Mind-body research performed in the past decade has proven conclusively that, without intervention, emotional or psychological turmoil can weaken the body’s immune system and lead to physical illness. The upshot? More absenteeism, a productivity plunge, rising health insurance costs and high turnover. One employee’s personal problems can set off a chain of events that could threaten a small company. As the old proverb goes, “For want of a nail, the kingdom was lost.”
Cheat Vacation at Your Peril
Ah, summer, time to get down to … work? That’s what an important new study says my small-business friends have to look forward to. Fewer and fewer entrepreneurs expect to take a summer vacation of a week or longer—59 percent now versus 67 percent four years ago, according to OPEN, the small-business arm of American Express. I can only guess that most of these owners feel they’ll get more done and thus put more food on their family tables, a laudable goal.
A Tough-Minded, Warm-Hearted Leader?
"$350 Liquor? Just Spreading the Wealth"
Floyd Norris’s column (behind the pay wall) in today’s New York Times biz section, about high-end hi-balls in Manhattan, made me think about the flip side to the massive growth in incomes and wealth in the U.S. There’s a lot of entrepreneurial opportunity here. All this green tells me that suddenly there’s a lot more room at the high end of the price-quality-service continuum. Big business, with their steamrolling marketing budgets and capital muscle, is adept at exploiting these niches. But in the age of low-startup costs, thanks to widespread digitization, the little guys and gals can also step in.
Where are the opportunities? High-end personal training? Upscale medical practice? Garbage disposal that’s as discreet, bonded and private as a white-glove home cleaning service? Use your imagination.