10 tips on how to destroy employee morale …..
I have (mostly) had the fortune of working for some very good managers/leaders throughout my career, including some excellent Singaporean managers. And I myself have had to lead employees and teams in Singapore, rest of Asia, Europe and the US.
However unfortunate a situation you find yourself in, the times we learn the most are often those in which we are placed in the most difficult situations and that’s why I have always said, “There is no such thing as a bad experience”.
One of these difficult situations, which I found myself in, was working for a boss who did all the wrong things when it came to creating a positive, energized, work environment.
Yet it was in this very situation that I found myself learning through first hand experience, how NOT to manage and lead others and I firmly believe (or certainly hope) that through this experience more than any others, I have become a better leader myself.
So what have I learned? I learned that, as a leader, the best way to destroy employee morale, innovation, and productivity, and to create an environment of high staff turnover is to:
1) Constantly Change Direction
If you want to really demotivate even the best of employees, just keep changing the direction of the company. I’m not talking about changing direction every year, or even every month, but change direction every week for the best results.
You will be guaranteed to create frustration and confusion, and your employees will simply throw their hands up in the air and stop work on their projects knowing that next week, they will have to start work on different projects anyway.
2) Criticize Everything
A great way to kill innovation and creativity in the workplace is to criticize any idea. Better yet, criticize these ideas in front of other employees for an even greater impact.
Then be sure to follow this up with how you feel it should be done. After all, you are the boss, and your employees are simply your low level minions, right?
3) Micro-Manage Activities (while holding individuals accountable for results)
A real morale killer is micro-management. If you want a team of poor performers, drive out your best performers by micro-managing everything they do (while frequently criticizing).
And to speed up the process, hold them accountable for results too. Your best performers will surely feel as though they are in a no-win situation and start looking for something new.
4) Set Unrealistic Goals
Another fantastic way to demotivate is to set goals that are completely unrealistic, without providing employees resources or leeway to drive their projects.
5) Blame Employees When Results are Poor; Give Credit to Outside Factors When Results are Good
Surely poor results are not due to your stellar leadership skills so it has to be your employees, so make sure they know this.
And when sales are doing great, be sure to explain that this is due to the economy or the results of the work done by the prior employees (who have long moved on to another company).
6) Pit Departments Against Each Other
Competition is good, right? Then what better way to build a great team environment than to have each department compete against each other?
Take employees comments about the other departments out of context and use this to “motivate” the department manager to outperform the other departments. You will surely create an untrusting, un-collaborative work environment which is a pre-requisite to poor productivity and exceptionally bad customer service.
7) Don’t Invest Time in In-Depth Interviews
Interviews take too much time and can be tiring so to build a team of poor performers, don’t waste time on finding and hiring the right people.
Spend no more than 1 hour with your final candidate(s) and during this time, spend most of it talking about yourself or your company.
And definitely don’t waste time calling and personally speaking with the candidate’s references. Soon, you will start building up a reputation as a poor leader and company culture, stopping any good candidates from considering joining your team.
8) Reduce Benefits to the Absolute Minimum
A truly effective leadership style to destroy employee morale is to have the attitude that employees should be thankful they have a job, especially in tough economic times.
And make sure they know this. A good way to make them feel this, is to reduce or cut out all ‘frivolous’ benefits including vacation time. Unhappy families create unhappy employees which creates unhappy work environments.
9) Create Excessive Paper Work and Meetings
Top performers like to feel as though what they are working on makes a real, positive, impact on the business. So if you want to drive them out, be sure to fill up their days with a lot of unnecessary paper work, reports, meetings, and anything else which keeps them from working on meaningful projects or engaging with customers.
10) Never Make Decisions
And finally, never make any decisions. When your employees come to you with proposals, have them rework the proposal because you don’t understand it or it isn’t in the format you want. And when they come back to you with the reworked proposal, have them re-work it again. Keep this cycle going until the employee gives up and stops pestering you for a decision.
Job well done! You have just destroyed any employee morale and you can look forward to high turnover, disgruntled employees, and as a result, poor productivity, customer service, and financial results.
Obviously, I’m trying to make a point here because one way to learn how to do something, is to first learn how NOT to do something. If you are in any leadership position (which means a position of influence and not necessarily a position of authority), reflect on the above points and challenge yourself on which of the above traits you sometimes exhibit.
And commit to improving the one that is most impacting employee morale in a negative way.
Robert Kleinschmidt, A Passionate Business Builder and Turnaround Professional
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