Why Every Business Needs A 'No Arseholes' Policy

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There are few things more debilitating in life than a hostile workplace. Usually the blame can be pinned on one or two people. You know the type we're talking about — they're the ones who are always complaining and tossing around insults. They thrive on gossip, blame their mistakes on others and will happily throw anyone under the bus if it could lead to a promotion. In short, they're arseholes.

Invoice2go CEO Chris Strode is keenly aware of the detrimental effect a few bad apples can have on staff happiness and productivity. He has subsequently implemented a strict "no-arsehole" policy to the hiring process. We think it's a strategy most businesses would do well to emulate.

Invoice2go is an invoicing and expense-tracking app founded by Australian entrepreneur and coder Chris Strode. Since its launch in 2002, the business has experienced phenomenal growth and now boasts dual head quarters in Sydney and Palo Alto in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Despite employing over 100 employees, Invoice2Go still strives to maintain a "family" vibe in the office via a friendly, close-knit workforce. This is maintained by a blanket ban on so-called "arseholes" during the hiring process.

We caught up with Chris at his Sydney office and asked him to explain this intriguing policy:

Everyone has either been at work or at school and thought to themselves: "God, if that guy wasn't here this would actually be a really nice place!" All it takes is one person to fuck it all up and it just makes life miserable.   When starting this company, I thought to myself, "why make everyone miserable for the sake of one arsehole?" So we probably put more emphasis on personality during the hiring process than is standard.

Some candidates might have strong skills, but are abrasive and aggressive around others. This is why Invoice2go's managers ponder a simple question after every interview: "would I want to sit next to this person at the Christmas party?"

Of course, ferreting out a potential "arsehole" during a job interview is easier said than done: after all, every single applicant will be attempting to present themselves in the best possible light. To combat this, Invoice2Go's "no arsehole" policy continues beyond the hiring phase to maintain a harmonious working environment.

"We have regular peer interviews to ensure people are getting along and everyone in a team are basically nice human beings," Strode explained. "If someone had the potential to become an arsehole at work, we'd address it early to ensure they don't turn that way."

Crucially, this policy also applies to upper management where so many "office arseholes" are found.

"As a manager you still have to get your job done," Strode admitted. "Sometimes managers need to be an arsehole during meetings if it's about people not pulling their weight, for example.

"But for a manager to then take that attitude outside of this scenario is a definite no go. They would be told instantly that they're not better than anyone else here and need to pull their heads in."

What do you guys think? Would a "no arsehole" policy immeasurably improve your workplace? Or do you think it would unfairly target unpopular and socially inept colleagues who are otherwise decent people? Share your thoughts in the comments.


Comments

    It's a fine balance. Sometimes I want an arsehole in my corner when I'm negotiating or striving to make something perfect. I don't want to sit next to them or be their friend - just to call on them when needed in a project.

    The definition of arsehole is also important. We can all have arsehole moments, due to having to deal with people who can't follow instructions for the 2-3 time - but that doesn't warrant the label of ongoing arsehole.

    A manager sticking the boot in because an employee is being lazy is NOT being an arsehole, that is part of their job.
    The way in which they go about it is key.
    Likewise, people with ill developed social skills aren't arseholes either, but others with poor capacity for may interpret their behaviour as such.

    You need to be careful what behaviours you label as 'being an arsehole'.

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