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Book Review: No Jerks on the Job by Ron Newton

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No Jerks on the Job  (subtitled: Who They Are, the Harm They Do, and Ridding them from Your Workplace) is a book that should attract a huge readership. After all, who hasn’t had to work with or for some real jerks? The reader may discover some jerkiness in his or her own behavior, past or present.

The jerks author Ron Newton refers to are adult brats — self-centered, selfish, dishonest, self-serving, compassionless beings who suck the joy out of the job (if there is any) and make us want to call in sick (for life). Have you met or worked with anyone like that?

Before Newton devoted himself to ridding workplaces of adult brats — or at least trying to, if the higher-ups weren’t too bratty to cooperate — he ran a wilderness camp program that provided camping trips to juvenile delinquents referred by the justice system. He hadn’t planned on being a corporate consultant, but one day a businessman in need, who figured that among his employees were a bunch of immature thugs who caused him stress and cash.

When Newton investigated the situation he discovered that the client was right. Newton consulted for a number of companies, always finding that there were adult delinquents undermining the companies’ performance, profits, and morale. This, and the realization of how  widespread jerkdom is (just read the newspaper) prompted him to share his techniques for eliminating the jerks. The result is No Jerks on the Job.

The first half of Newton’s book is dedicated to identifying who the jerks are, how they operate, and how they came to be. Many may feel that it doesn’t matter what makes a jerk; what matters is how to unmake one. However, since as many as 75% of those who joined the workforce since the mid-1970s are jerks or jerk-like, it’s important to understand how society is responsible for providing an environment in which jerks can flourish.

The second half of No Jerks on the Job is advice for those who are willing to do the hard work involved in turning adult brats into responsible adults.  Make no mistake, it is very hard work and requires changes in the individual who is out to make improvements as well. Dedicating oneself to improving the workplace by eliminating harmful attitudes requires a great deal. The emphasis is on transparency, accountability, and compassion, and Newton explains how to achieve all three.

Eliminating corruption within a company, whether one is  labor or management, is a difficult undertaking, but seeing it through is rewarding. Newton shares his experiences with juvenile delinquents on wilderness trips to illustrate some of the behaviors common to adult brats.

I (labor) don’t wholly agree with Newton (management) when it comes to the formation of brats or the intents of management, although at times he touches on some of my concerns. Overall, No Jerks on the Job is a good resource for anyone who wants to get a handle on what’s going on in his or her workplace, and how to improve it.

Bottom line: Would I buy No Jerks on the Job? If I were still working and acting as a union representative, I would.

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