Jerks make working in teams difficult. They bully people, treat them like dirt, they are like ninjas, they are good at character assasinations. They weigh people down and most of the time, they bring the entire team down. I have seen one jerk, bring an entire team down just by being a jerk.
On the other hand, a jerkless team can be highly productive, collaborative and synergistic. It's a workplace heaven we all wish we can all be in. Virtually impossible you might say. Fortunately, it is not. There is hope for all of us but may I say that road to take is not easy.
The strategy is fairly simple, the difficult part is to get people to agree to it and actually keep their words... especially if they are the bosses. There's a couple of things we need to agree on regarding this issue. One, no body wants to be called a jerk and two, no body is likely to admit to being one. This is why it is important to agree on a set of jerk-behaviors people should avoid demonstrating and agree as a team to stop demonstrating them behaviors. I googled the term "jerk behaviors" and I realized that a number of people already came up with a number of lists of jerk behaviors. I guess it's up to you and your team to decide which ones you cannot afford to take based on your "jerk resistance levels". Here's my suggestion on what you should do.
Meet as a team and agree that acting like jerks will not help the team.
Ask the team to come up with their own list of jerk-behaviors. You can probably help them by coming up with a laundry list of jerk behaviors they can choose from. You can use Google for this.
Pick maybe 10 top (your call) jerk behaviors you hate the most as a team and swear to each other never to demonstrate those behaviors again.
Be clear about the behaviors you want to call. make sure you leave no room for misinterpretation.
Agree on actions to take if people continue to manifest these behaviors. Agree on how you can call people's attention, maybe even go as far as penalizing jerk behaviors. Again, it's the team's call.
be firm enough to take action when slip-ups happen because you don't want people to go back to being jerks.
Agree on a method of communicating that will keep people honest about their thoughts and feelings without acting like jerks. You don't want people to withhold their opinions just to avoid being called jerks. You need people to be honest if the team is to progress.
Jerks won't go away by firing people but devising a way to rid the team of jerk-like behaviors will do the job. It normally takes just a team-wide decision and will to make all this happen... and trust - Trust in the leader, trust in the member and trust in the ability of the entire team to make things happen. Trust easily builds up when the leader owns up to some of the jerk behaviors and promise to stop showing those behaviors. It can go a long way in building the necessary confidence to build the team by removing the blockages that get in the way of team greatness.