Why Barclays Needed More Than a Jerkectomy

Rick Wartzman

In his latest column for Forbes online, Drucker Institute Executive Director Rick Wartzman looks at the “no jerks rule” implemented by Bob Diamond, the recently departed chief of Barclays PLC, the British bank that finds itself at the center of a global scandal over the distortion of a key interest rate.

“Not surprisingly,” Wartzman writes, “many are poking fun at Diamond’s decree, which reportedly led him to fire dozens of employees who couldn’t ‘behave with their colleagues’ or otherwise ‘be nice.’” Some of the critics, Wartzman notes, have seized upon emails “in which those engaged in the manipulation of data called each other ‘dude’ and ‘big boy’ and discussed celebrating their dishonesty over a bottle of Bollinger.

“Perhaps this sort of braggadocio is the essence of jerkiness,” Wartzman adds. “But looked at another way, such banter could be emblematic of a culture that has elevated cordiality and conviviality over what matters most: being highly effective at meeting mission.”

Indeed, says Wartzman “the danger comes when the pursuit of ‘good human relations’ overshadows everything else.” “The test of good spirit is not that ‘people get along together,’” Peter Drucker wrote in The Practice of Management, his 1954 classic. “It is performance, not conformance.”