in Organizations

Avoiding toxic co-workers

Diego has two worthwhile posts on avoiding assholes at work, using Richard Branson’s reality show as an example:

Sir Branson took an innovative approach to the asshole problem by donning Scooby-Doo-ish makeup and mask before picking up would-be contestants from the airport in a London taxi cab. Disguised as an arthritic old cabbie, Branson was able to observe these would-be Trumps interacting with a “little” person, a situation which is to an asshole what buried truffles are to a pig – an invitation to root around and generally make a boor of one’s self. Not surprisingly, three contestants showed their true colors in short order, and Branson kicked two of them off. A strong cultural statement, eh?

The Wall Street Journal has a piece on inept managers today. They get there either because

Sometimes a supervisor promotes a lame manager because he figures the manager is unlikely to unseat him. “They don’t want to have subordinates on a lower rung of the ladder who might soon step over them,” says Angelo Calvello, a principal at a financial firm in Chicago. “Normally, a boob has got a boob for a boss.”


Organizational psychologist Gary Hayes says organizations flattened starting in the 1970s, when layers of management were removed in the name of organizational efficiency. But “a very large number of companies after that really stopped rewarding management skills,” he says. As a result, “people get promoted because they have a technical skill that gets found out and recognized early on and that becomes the horse they ride into town,” he says.