9 Ways to Demotivate Your Employees

Stephen Robert Morse

Have you ever had a boss who made you want to scream every time you looked at him or her? It’s more common than you think, because many bosses are poor managers. A Gallup poll reported that some 50% of American workers have voluntarily left a job because their boss was such a nightmare to work for.

Here is a comprehensive list of time-tested ways to demotivate your employees and make sure that they quit their jobs fast — so, if you’re looking to become a sole practitioner, follow these tips to make sure your employees quit in an instant.

1. Micromanage your employees.

Yes, trust has to be earned, but nobody likes to be micromanaged. If you want your employees to leave your firm, ask them to submit daily — no, hourly — progress reports to you on all of their projects. Hover over their desks while they’re working. Heck, you can even eavesdrop on shared phone lines. And don’t forget to ask them to BCC you on every email they send.

2. Make promises you don’t keep.

Lie or exaggerate about company finances, business prospects, or other finance-related aspects of work. Promise your employees bonuses but then don’t deliver. Tell them there’s going to be a banging office Christmas party but then cheap out and order a few tacos. There’s nothing like mismanaging expectations.

3. Be a bad listener.

When your employees come to you with problems, your job should be to solve them rather than to let them fester. But let those problems fester. Let them grow. Don’t acknowledge that these problems even exist. Turn a blind eye. Your employees will be resentful in no time.

4. Create rules for the sake of creating rules.

Work rules must make sense. When they don’t make sense, your employees will rebel. Create a rule about not having dogs in the office, even though all of your employees are dog lovers. Mandate that employees take a maximum 15-minute lunch break even on slow days.

5. Promote the wrong people.

If you are promoting from within, make sure you don’t reward the behaviors that should be rewarded rather than just promoting your friends. Promote the guy you like to go for beers with even though he is the worst performer on the sales team. Make sure you promote the person who comes in late, is full of excuses about job performance, and shows that they never learn from their mistakes.

6. Keep employees on your team who don’t perform.

If you have underperforming employees and do nothing about it, it will cause other employees also to be demotivated. If your goal is to demotivate your employees, nothing says demotivation like keeping the bad people on board who drag everyone else down.

7. Miscommunicate and under-communicate to your staff.

Nobody likes to be left out of the loop. If you give halfhearted explanations about company finances or human resource problems, you’re sure to leave your employees wondering and starting rumors. If you under-communicate, your employees will likely assume the worst. To most effectively demotivate employees, a two-pronged strategy of miscommunication and under-communication is strongly advised.

8. Create jobs with plenty of monotony and boredom.

Doing the same thing day in and day out isn’t fun. Employers who seek to demotivate their employees must think both strategically and creatively on how to manage their employees so they get bored enough to leave. First, make sure that employees are each responsible for a very boring part of a very long project, and then discourage them from communicating with each other after it’s finished. Remember, fulfillment is the enemy of demotivation, so make sure your employees are never fulfilled by their work.

9. Don’t lead by example.

Insist that your employees dress in a suit and tie. Then rock a T-shirt and shorts to work. Never apologize in this situation. Make sure that your office is a non-smoking environment. Then, pull out a pack of Marlboros and crack the window open with your feet on the desk. It’s really that easy. Hypocrisy is normalcy if demotivating employees is your major focus.

Keep up these recommended bad habits and you’ll have demotivated — if not completely alienated — your employees in no time. And, while you’re busy waiting for those employees to quit, go ahead and sign up for the Small Biz Ahead weekly e-newsletter for more tips . . . that will take you in the opposite —and a more productive — direction, so you’ll not end up working alone.

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