Let's Talk Software

Even if you're not looking for custom software development, we're happy to chat about agile processes, tech stacks, architecture, or help with your ideas. Enter your contact information below and a member of our team will contact you.

    Clients who trust us to deliver on their custom software needs.
    Tonal Logo
    Aquabyte Logo
    More Cashback Rewards Logo
    MasterControl Logo
    Little Passports Logo
    Mido Lotto Logo


    No Jerks Policy

    By Christian Schraga
    Share this article:

    Last week we discussed how we keep our promises, which differentiates us from most of the competition. We mentioned how we offer free “discovery” to our prospective clients, and how one of the benefits of this offer is that it gives us an opportunity to evaluate the clients before we agree to work with them. Internally, we call this our “No Jerk Policy” (we actually call it the “No A**hole Policy but this is a PG-rated blog so we’ll censor ourselves).

    This policy of ours, put in other words, means that we won’t tolerate working with people who consistently demonstrate selfishness, vindictiveness, lack-of-empathy, or general unpleasantness – no matter what the financial benefit may be. This goes for not only employees and vendors, but also clients. We’d rather have a $20k/month client who shares our values than a $200k/month client who treats us like crap. Why do we do this? Doesn’t it violate our fiduciary obligations?

    Actually, no. We have found that in the long term, the “no jerk” policy increases our bottom line even though it may call for some short-term sacrifice. Why is that?

    Reason #1 – Employee Mental Health

    If a client is a jerk to me or my business partner during the discovery process, odds are they are going to be a bigger jerk to the business analysts, designers, and project managers once the job starts. This is certain to adversely affect our employees’ mental health and job satisfaction in a big way. A bad client will make our employees’ lives miserable, even if we pay them well, even if they like their co-workers, and even if they like everything else about our company. If it gets bad enough for long enough, then it can begin a “cycle of death” which goes like this:

    1. The employee’s misery adds negativity to the workers around them, which adversely affects productivity for the company.
    2. The employee, and perhaps those around them, quit.
    3. The employees who quit start to talk, and word gets out that our company is a bad place to work.
    4. It gets harder to recruit good candidates to replace those we lost, so we have to settle for lower-performing candidates.
    5. Our work product deteriorates.
    6. We can no longer attract top clients, so we have to work with more jerks.
    7. Repeat.

    The more this cycle increases, the worse it gets. Absenteeism starts to increase, productivity starts to decrease, medical expenses increase, and ultimately we find ourselves out of business.

    Reason #2 – The Power of Partnership

    The most important lesson I learned in business school came from Professor Stuart Diamond who taught a popular class on negotiation skills. The first practice negotiation we did was where one side represented a formerly-great-but-out-of-work opera singer, and the other side represented an opera house that was in financial trouble. The goal was to see which side could get the most lucrative deal. In almost every case, the negotiators spent the class bickering over how much the venue would pay the singer. However, in one or two cases, the sides worked together and came up with additional revenue streams like joint recording deals, HBO specials, podcast series, etc. These one or two cases ended up (hypothetically) earning 10x or more what the bickerers would have made.

    The lesson here is the power of partnership. Cooperation almost always results in more for everybody than fighting does. We firmly believe in this concept at CodeStringers. We want to deliver far and above what our contract says that we have to– not only because it’s financially beneficial but also because it’s a lot more fun!

    On the flip side, however, partnership is impossible when you’re working with jerks. Jerks tend to place more value in being right than being rich.

    Reason #3 – Our Mental Health

    I’m not sure if they do this anymore, but prospective employers used to always ask candidates, “What is your biggest weakness?”

    For me that answer is easy, migraines. I get migraines when I’m overly stressed, when I travel, when I’m exposed to too many flashing lights, and, strangely enough, when I’m forced to spend too much time with people who I don’t like. Therefore, if we violate our company’s “no jerk” policy, I will get migraines far more often, which means I can’t work, which means our company loses productivity.

    Not everyone has this direct relationship between mental health and productivity, but I assure you, it’s there somewhere.


    It should go without saying that no one likes to work with jerks. However at CodeStringers we go one step further and make it an official policy so that we don’t sacrifice long term viability at the expense of short-term gain.

    To be honest, we have made mistakes in the past. We can’t say that we’ve always upheld our policy. There have been cases in which we were “on the fence” about whether a client violated our “no jerk” policy but ended up taking the job anyway. Needless to say, every time we were on the fence, the client turned out to be more of a jerk than we had originally thought, and it came back to haunt us later.

    We like to think that we’ve learned from these mistakes and won’t make them again in the future. We encourage you to do the same.

    Christian Schraga

    Share this article:
    SVP of Product

    About the author...

    Christian Schraga has more than 20 years experience working in various functions within the software industry. He has been the SVP of Product of CodeStringers since January of 2020. Prior to that he was a customer of CodeStringers, having founded Ella Learning, which we are now proud to say is a CodeStringers product. Additionally, Christian spent 10 years in the music industry as the VP of Digital for Columbia Records where he oversaw the development of several successful mobile apps, including the Webby Award winning Bob Dylan Bootlegs app and the blockbuster AC/DC Rocks app. Christian also spent 4 years in data science, working on several predictive and AI applications for the auto, music, and retail industries. He also has 4 years of finance experience having worked for the prestigious GE Corporate Finance Staff. Christian has an MBA from the Wharton School of Business and a BA from UCLA. In his spare time, Christian is an avid language learning enthusiast, who has a reasonable amount of fluency in 6 languages. He is also a fitness fanatic-- having run 10 marathons.

    Scroll to Top