There are many, many books, articles, and blog posts on how to manage staff. But sometimes you just have to be an a******. Well, at least that’s part of the management philosophy of the now ex-owner of a very big Canadian shop. I’m not going to name the shop or even the city because I haven’t specifically asked for permission to share this story. So let’s just call him Bob.

Bob is a mild-mannered, personable, considerate, unexcitable person—what most people would call an all-round decent guy. And this was reflected in his management style too. This is why when I heard this story years ago it tickled me then, and still does today.

Bob had established a designated smoking zone behind the shop for those essential smoke breaks that a number of his staff members apparently needed. He only had one rule—they had to place their cigarette butts in the provided bin. However, much to his annoyance the rule would be ignored and he’d find butts littering the ground. After repeatedly reminding the staff to use the butt bin, he apparently uncharacteristically “lost it” one day when he again found butts lying around.

He called the crowd of smokers into his office and shocked them by “going nuts.” As the saying goes, he went up one side of them and down the other. I understand that this was the end of cigarette butts on the ground. As Bob explained, “Sometimes you just have to be an a******!”