"The No Asshole Rule..." by Bob Sutton (available at Amazon.com) is equal parts sociology, psychology and management genius.
Once readers get past the slightly weird feeling of seeing Sutton's (mild) profanity in print, there is a realization that no other term would be quite as perfect for describing those nasty, negative individuals that can ruin a workplace.
Through a variety of stories and specific company examples, Sutton explores the idea that assholes aren't just annoying, but also destructive emotionally and financially. In one example, a firm went so far as to calculate the hard cost of dealing with a sales superstar who noone could stand -- counting lost productivity, counseling, employee turnover and other factors, the tab totaled more than $150,000 a year. The organization didn't just go through this exercise for show, it formed the basis of a reduction in the offending salesperson's annual bonus!
If you happen to work for a company that is less thorough in dealing with these sorts of problems, Sutton does offer some coping strategies. But, his bottom line: life is too short to work with, for, or around assholes. And if you work for a company that willingly suffers them, it's probably not the place to be.
It should also be noted that eliminating assholes from the workplace does not mean creating a wimpy, milquetoast environment. In fact, Sutton is a firm believer in constructive conflict as a vital component of good decision making, and references companies like Intel where a healthy balance between politeness and professional disagreement has been struck.
This is the first of Bob Sutton's books that I've read, but I'll be back for more. For those of you looking for a sampler, you might consider heading over to Bob's blog -- Work Matters.