What to avoid if you want to motivate your employees?

A simple search on the net or a step into a bookshop and you find yourself buried under articles, tips, quotes and books about motivation. In order to avoid getting into the row of the “what to do right” suggestions, I decided to twist the tale a bit and give you some tips on how to demotivate people – in other words: what to avoid.

But first of all: what does motivation mean?

Internal and external factors that stimulate desire and energy in people to be continually interested and committed to a job, role or subject, or to make an effort to attain a goal.

Motivation results from the interaction of both conscious and unconscious factors such as the
(1) intensity of desire or need, (2) incentive or reward value of the goal, and (3) expectations of the individual and of his or her peers. These factors are the reasons one has for behaving a certain way.


How can you easily and – if you succeed – for a lifetime demotivate your employee?

  • Simply use the power of your position showing your employees that you don’t respect them as individuals. Don’t answer their messages, especially those ones that include suggestions on how to improve operations. Make sure to be late from every single meetings or leave early or right before a decision supposed to be taken. Do whatever they can resent.
  • Take credit for the work they’ve done: the more complex the work was, the bigger credit you can take for yourself. This is my personal favorite, as I had such situation in my professional life: OK, it was not my boss, who took credit for the project that I worked out in details, but he gave it to the person who had the right position (director instead of coordinator who I was at that time). Would you like to drive people crazy? Would you like them to question their own sanity? Then take credit for every single good idea that they come up with.
  • Fear is a great de-motivator, so lose your temper as frequent as possible. Yell at them, call them at names. You can be sure to lose their loyalty soon enough.
  • Never ever stand up for anyone, in top of that: be nice in front of their eyes and stab them in the back! Make sure that they will never forget those times when they were under unmerited personal and/or organizational attacks (nonsenses) and don’t back them up.
  • Forget about giving feedback. I mean: if they are doing a good job don’t dare to encourage them or make them feel being valued. Of course if they make a mistake, rub it under their nose in a mocking tone every single possible moment.
  • Make sure to block every single path that would help them to advance their career. Convince them that they don’t need additional training, mentoring, coaching and they are good at tossing documents around and making coffee for you for the rest of their lives.
  • Make sure to send postcards to them from every single stop of your travel around the world, and question their right to have free weekends. Work-life balance is such privilege that only the leaders can have. Such employee who has family issues, doctoral appointments and would like to have some flexibility in his/her schedules is not committed enough – show no empathy whatsoever if they are turning to you with these kind of issues.
  • Practice selective hearing and don’t listen to their ideas for job improvement (unless you can steal that idea), or their problems, concerns, conflicts, frustrations or just their questions about information that could help them to excel at their job. Active listening is such a skill that you should not overuse, if it’s not in your favor.
  • Do everything unto others that you wouldn’t like to have done unto you. The workplace is your playground and emotional intelligence is only for the weak.
  • Aligning individual economic interest with company performance have to remain a never fulfilled promise. The better the company does the more you should cut back the employees’ compensations, but make sure to show off your new car, phone, watch – anything you bought from the money they made for you.

If you keep practicing the above suggested acts and you still have employee working for you then they either in desperate need of that little money they earn or their intrinsic motivation is much stronger than any extrinsic disruption they encounter on a daily basis.

Whether you would like to try out how people react to motivation or de-motivation in a safe environment and develop your managerial skills at the same time, then I would suggest playing FLIGBY – a fun and interactive online serious game where you can “meet” every single type of employee who you would meet in real life as well.