Quite possibly the worst thing that you can have in an office is somebody who rises fast through sucking up to people, taking credit for the best ideas they can steal or pointing the blame for failures on the weakest links they can find. Namely, a “jerk”. The storage startup Tintri, afraid of jerks in the workplace, have enacted a “no jerk” rule in their company, and they’ve grown 140% this year alone. The company believes that the best way to avoid jerk-like behaviors is by setting clear boundaries, open communication and forming a strong company culture. The company is clear about behavior that’s acceptable and unacceptable, and when somebody crosses the line, other employees let them know. Furthermore, nobody is immune to the “no-jerk” rule, and employees are encouraged to let anybody, even the CEO, know if they’ve acted like a jerk.
Of course, high-stress situations, unfortunately common in the workplace, can bring out jerky behavior. You can’t expect to completely eradicate jerk behavior, but what’s important is how you recover from a moment of jerkiness. At Tintri at least, they believe that most employees have good intentions and aren’t trying to act like jerks, and most of the time, employees self-correct when such behavior occurs. What’s interesting about Tintri is that its culture is made up of more than just words, with the company incorporating mechanisms such as a culture board (a team of managers who reinforce its values) and training on communication that helps motivate its staffers to act according to the company’s values.
Identifying a company’s culture is an important step, and ignoring this step can mean unwanted turnover and low morale. Creating and managing a company’s culture is part of the CEO’s job, and is critical in making an organization filled with highly talented and productive people. Indeed, culture answers questions about who the people at a company are, how they think, what they believe, what kind of people they hire and don’t hire. At Tintri, they believe in creating a company based on the acronym “CEEIT”: creating a customer-centered, excellence-fueled, execution-driven, innovation-obsessed, team-oriented company. While there’s nothing especially unique about these values, the most difficult part is making them a reality. This would probably require keeping a close eye on how people behave and using incentives.