Building a company full of asses takes work but not as much work as you may think. Here are 13 tips to get you started.
1. Hire Asses
The easiest way to create a company full of asses is to simply hire asses. Candidates with a history of being difficult, mean spirited, petty, cut throat, tone deaf, arrogant, and defensive go to the front of the line. “I stepped on a lot of heads and pissed off a lot of people to get where I am today,” means you’ve got the job mister! If your recruiter or HR leader is also an ass, he or she will easily discount a candidate’s likability and openness as well as their proven capacity to collaborate, communicate, work hard, innovate, and inspire others to follow. Remember, ass attracts ass.
2. Be An Ass, Get Ass Back
Lead by example. Be a prick. It won’t take long for smart people in your company to mirror your tone and temperament. Your abrasive comments, cynical perceptions, and personal attacks will become theirs, only darker. And news travels fast, so folks don’t even have to be in the room with you to figure out how they should behave in order to get ahead. “If you want me to be an ass, just say so.”
3. Reward The Mercenaries & Overlook Teamwork
As a leader, you have an opportunity to support a culture of “me” or of “we,” you can’t have it both ways. Either you reward cooperation and collaboration or you reward individualism and self-interest. Humans are the most collaborative species in the history. If you want to create asses, encourage workers to deny their genetic predisposition by working alone and fearing their co-worker. Lonely and afraid soon turns to depressed and mean.
4. Employees Are Receptacles Not Resources
Information flows one-way and that’s downhill. Even though employees may perceive they possess some level of expertise, clearly they are mistaken. As a leader, you have the title and the tenure which means you know all there needs to know. For any employees who wish to share an opinion, explain that no one cares about what they think. For those who want to share their knowledge, shut that down by snickering “oh, we’ve got this.” Avoid eye contact with folks who look like (hands raised) they have something to say during meetings. Finally, scowl at those who fail to ask permission to speak and cut them off as soon as possible. Employees are receptacles for your information and not resources who can justly contribute their expertise.
5. Believe In Your Paycheck
Give your employees nothing to believe in but a paycheck that can vanish in the blink of a layoff. Humans make decisions and take action based on feelings and then they construct an argument for why they hold that belief. Long story short, this means that people need to feel they are working for an idea that they believe in or work has no intrinsic meaning. So, when an employee asks how his work improves the lives of his customers, tell him it’s none of his business. Avoid discussions involving the quality of your product or customer service and instead focus on the numbers and making money. If you haven’t yet, just don’t bother putting any energy into understanding why your company exists or what you believe in so you don’t inadvertently let it slip out during a meeting.
6. Discourage Honest Conversations
Some of you may remember a time, say last Thanksgiving, when a family conversation sidestepped the elephant in the room in favor of a more pleasant discussion. Remember the awkward silence and the small talk. Now, recall the stress produced as a result of censoring your thoughts and emotions. If folks have to filter the questions they ask, the issues they bring up, and the positions they assume, then you are well on your way to producing the anxiety (and paranoia) you need to convert happy confident people into frustrated defensive people. “It’s not the right time, it’s complicated” means it’s about politics and not about excellence.
7. Hang A Sign That Says, “Fear Thy Neighbor”
Instead of focusing on external competition between companies, keep the competition between your employees. When you pit employee against employee, you wind up with a bunch of haters. If people are worried about being stabbed in the back, they can’t dedicate their full attention to meeting the demands of their job, much less challenge the competition, which may be a problem if your goal is to make money.
8. Ignore Bad Behavior
This one is easy. When you see or hear of bad behavior, do nothing. Assume that either you can’t fix the bad behavior, that the bad behavior was an aberration, or that the bad behavior was necessary to get the job done. Again, news travels fast and employees learn faster.
9. Don’t Admit Mistakes
One of the benefits of intellectual dishonesty (“Discourage Honest Conversations”) is never having to admit mistakes. Eventually, the “truth will out” (Merchant of Venice, Act II, Scene 2) but not today. That means that those responsible for the mistake will live in fear and shame until all is revealed, or not. Those who cover for them will live with the same fear and shame, thereby spreading unhappiness and dread far and wide. Perfection is real.
10. Overlook Org Charts
Create an organization chart that either doesn’t make sense or leaves gaps in leadership. You can heighten the dysfunction and finger pointing by failing to address the lack of defined roles and responsibilities early in a specific project. Never fix a broken org chart.
11. Say Good-Bye To Accountability
And say hello to chaos. Hold meetings and discuss issues but avoid assigning a person(s) who will take the lead in resolving these issues. Never establish a mechanism for tracking issues, progress updates, and subsequent resolutions. Granted, it will be difficult to hold an authentic debate or have a dynamic understanding of issues because you have discouraged honest conversations. This, however, can actually work to your advantage in creating asses. First, the resolution process will take ass loads of time and energy. Second, resolutions will be half-assed. Third, people will anticipate a timely comprehensive resolution because everyone involved is smart and capable. Frustration. Frustration. Frustration.
In addition, failing to hold a leader, team or individual accountable for their work is an outstanding way to promote an apathetic workforce. Double bonus points if you can manage to hold some people accountable and give others a pass. Can you feel the resentment?
12. Don’t Baby Them
Support and professional development cost money and waste valuable time. The best employees will figure it out. Sink or swim, baby.
13. Repeat After Me – There’s No Such Thing As Corporate Culture
Again, easy breezy. Discount the plethora of research that connects happiness and trust to cooperation, collaboration, and productivity and you are well on your way to allowing frustration, dissatisfaction, and fear to dominate your corporate culture, which will create, attract and support a company of asses.