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How to Spot a Jerk Before They’re Hired

Letting a jerk into the ranks of company staff is like hiring a virus. This negative personality, though one among many, can bring down the project team, the department, or even the entire organization. That’s why Dennis McCafferty recommends tracking the potential employee’s digital footprint in social media before hiring. In an article for CIO Insight, McCafferty sites a Connectia study that takes a hard look at the effects of bullying and other bad behavior on the morale and performance of employees.

Jerks and their Ways

If you’ve got any doubt as to whether jerks in the IT field are a common phenomenon, you must know that 83% of IT professionals report working with one in the past five years. In fact, those surveyed were able to classify the kind of jerks they encountered:

  • Know-it-alls 30%
  • Bullies 26%
  • Complainers 21%

The Effects of Jerks

The presence of a jerk is a direct hit to employee morale. For instance, 59% say that a jerk at work lowers the spirits of staff. Another 42% of those surveyed find that working with a jerk creates silos as people retreat to doing tasks alone and results in severed communication lines. An additional 40% admitted that having a jerk around gums up the works, decreasing the quality of employee output. In some cases, the phenomenon even prevents employees from completing their work (34%).

Jerks are no Joke

Comically, close to half of all those questioned would rather be wedged in the middle seat of an international flight than be stuck working with someone who they consider to be jerky. Nearly a quarter of all who participated in the survey stated that having a root canal or taking a lower job position was preferable! Even more telling: of the top three workforce satisfaction drivers of positive relationships among colleagues, office location, and cultures, 43% stated that workforce relationships were their top priority. But full disclosure: one out of five of these same tech pros admit – they are the office jerks.

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About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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