Jiri Lundak

Archive for June, 2012|Monthly archive page

How to Demoralize Your Workforce

In Antipatterns, Collaboration, Leadership, Management on June 29, 2012 at 8:23 am

Dear manager,

You think the best of your workforce is not good enough? You doubt that your people are standing behind you, even though they pledge they do? You feel not being respected enough? Then there might be an acceptance problem.

Then there is just one way out: demoralize your workforce! Break your people's resistance!

How can you accomplish such feat? Here is some practical advice you can apply and success will follow suite:

  1. Treat people as children
  2. Micromanage
  3. Suppress different thinking
  4. Grow a “hurray” culture
  5. Make yourself the information hub
  6. Treat problems only superficially
  7. Be everywhere and nowhere
  8. Expect, but do not give, respect
  9. Favor certain people
  10. Give superficial praise
  11. Start meaningless initiatives
  12. Spy on your people

Those keywords were not enough to spur your imagination? You need some examples? Bear with me, here they come:

1. Treat people as children

There are some ways how you can accomplish that: do not give them too much information (especially about context), just say enough, so they know what to do in their narrow, limited space of responsibility. Give your experts coaches they do not need. Give your people goals, instead of elaborating them together. Listen to your people's advice, but never act upon it. Do not let them make decisions on their own. Instead always insist, that they need your approval first.

2. Micromanage

Always mingle yourself into your subordinate's work. Do not just give input on the content, but offer plenty of advice on the form of a document. Delegate work you could do yourself, but administer every aspect of it. Ask for frequent feedback, best on a daily basis, so you are informed on progress and can influence every minor detail. Do not believe your people, when they tell you that, they trust you. Instead expect measurable evidence. Check on that measure ever so often, best on a daily basis.

3. Suppress different thinking

Interpret all differing ideas and thoughts as inherently suspect. Tell your people on every occasion they rise some concern: “Why can't you just say: 'Yes'!?”. When people do things differently than you would, call them to order, even if they had sucess with what they did. Give more importance to the way people do things, than to results. Drive free roaming thought to the underground. Force processes into a uniform shape.

4. Grow a “hurray” culture

Every management intervention needs to be sold. So let your people party every decision you make. The less meaningful you intervention the louder it should be cheered by your subordinates. Naysayers and critical souls should be expelled or at least silenced. Enthusiasm shall be instilled from above at all time.

5. Make yourself the information hub

Explain reasons just to key people directly. Tell your key players to not pass all information to their subordinates. Do a lot of one-on-ones. Let everybody know just partial information, as is needed for his role. Show people that information is power. So do not distribute it evenly.

6. Treat problems only superficially

You do not need to discern between important and unimportant problems. Leave this to your people. But treat all problems as equally important. Follow through on every problem, as if it were of utmost importance. So your people will not slack of. They will always be busy solving even the minor glitches. If they are unable to cope with your requests, they should be fired or you should add another layer of management to your organization. Stay with the first solution that comes to your mind, refuse to accept differing ideas as negatively biased and declare the problem as solved. Any additional problem is caused by the bad implementation of your solution by others.

7. Be everywhere and nowhere

It is utterly important to appear at unexpected moments and identify that problem and immediately suggest a solution. You know best how to solve problems, so you need to be everywhere. At the same moment do not loose too much time with any issue at hand. Do not spend time overly analyzing the situation. Propose a solution instead and delegate execution to the person at hand. Ask for immediate feedback for the next two weeks or so and if you think the problem is solved (even if it is not), just declare victory. You have to move on to the next trouble spot. And if people need your help, just delegate it back to them or to other people.

8. Expect, but do not give, respect

Your work is definitely more important than that of your subordinates. So give them work to do as soon as you identify a problem. Expect them to let go of anything they are doing right now and jump immediately to the task you assign. Participate in most meetings and take them over, so people know who the boss is. But try always to arrive late. Others are expected to wait for you, because most of the time you have more important things to do. When people do not embrace your opinion immediately offer to coach them personally or by appointing an external coach.

9. Favor certain people

You need to gather people around you, that support what you say. Give them authority. Help them to feel important and unique. This will pay dividends. They will speak and act in your favor. They will up your status in front of the rest. Give them small privileges, like knowing a bit more than their peers or being able to decide on the drawn process charts. Important is, that you give them power to decide on the fate of some subordinates. Make others feel unimportant, by elevating your trusted people in public.

10. Give superficial praise

Praise anything you see, even if off-topic or irrelevant. Use praise in an inflationary manner, so that people do not think you are genuinely interested in them and their work. But especially praise yourself and your trusted close collaborators. Exaggerate! Always use superlatives where not appropriate. But the most important part is: Give praise always with a goal in mind. Attach always an expected behavior to praise and never let it stand just on its own merit.

11. Start meaningless initiatives

The world can be explained in a mechanistic manner. So cause and effect are clearly visible. Just jump to premature conclusions. Start lots of initiatives. Whenever possible hire external consultants and specialists, because your own people are too absorbed with their daily business. Or they simply just do not get it. External resources do not oppose your opinion and just do what they are told. Why cope with all those difficult and complicated insiders. Your own people will be happier, when they do not need to make decisions on their own, when they do not need to hire people and when they need not think about processes and policies.

12. Spy on your people

Your people are a bunch of lazy jerks. They can not be trusted. How many times where you deluded by their performance? How many times did they screw up projects you sold? So you have to check on them thoroughly. Do they slack off? Do they take shortcuts, circling around process definitions? Install a dashboard with key performance metrics and insist that they meet their goals you have set. Another important tool for finding contradictions in your people's affirmations is to interview people one-on-one and then play them out against each other. So they will fear to go out and act on their own, without your approval.

There are other ways to demoralize your workforce, but I shall spare some of my advice for another post.

Let me know how successful you were applying my tips.