I was reading on humanresources.about.com about the 20 dumb things employers do to damage relationships with their employees. A fun take on many corporate plagues, the article contained a few gems such as:
Fail to address behavior and actions of people that are inconsistent with stated and published organizational expectations and policies. (Better yet, let non-conformance go on until you are out of patience; then ambush the next offender, no matter how significant, with a disciplinary action.
Make every task a priority. People will soon believe there are no priorities. More importantly, they will never feel as if they have accomplished a complete task or goal.
Letting a person fail when you had information, that he did not, which he might have used to make a different decision.
A pity about.com is not interactive enough to have comments from readers, or else I assume the list would have been longer and funnier. In a sad way.
In any case, here’s my top three:
1. Never provide feedback. In case you find yourself providing feedback, stop abruptly. If stopping’s not possible, make sure all feedback provided is negative. Avoid, at any cost, to make that feedback effective (i.e. by pointing out the undesirable behavior, its consequences, and the reasoning behind the negative or positive reaction) and leave it at the level of unsupported criticism. Make the absence of feedback an organizational policy by remanding debriefing, project postmortems and performance / personnel reviews to the “useless paperwork” or “no-time-for-this-c..p” pile.
2. Incessantly follow-up. Preferably do that after you have not properly initiated a project, responded to inquiries, or allotted the necessary resources despite numerous requests. Then remember a few days before the deadline, or even after the deadline has passed and pester your directs every three minutes about the status of the work. If in any way possible, ask them to pester their suppliers or partners because, as it is widely known, interruptions tend to make work go faster. For added oomph, wonder aloud why third-party contractors did not keep their workers overtime to meet your stringent deadlines. And then ask your directs to follow up some more.
3. Never finalize. Keep providing feedback and asking for minor changes or multiple alternate versions to the projects submitted despite repeated warnings that you will miss the window of opportunity for executing the project. Then complain the project was not deployed on time. In order for this self-sabotaging method to work, make sure that feedback on one project or document is never offered in a structured manner, in consistent chunks of comments or concerns, but is staggered across multiple e-mails or meetings. Avoid consulting any other parties that need to provide feedback before complete overhauls are made. Then ask for their feedback to be incorporated. If by a miracle the project ends up being implemented, be dissatisfied with the results, and say too much time has been wasted in minor alterations. Finally, to elevate this, make sure that no clear path for approvals and set time lines exist at the organisation level, and there is no such thing as tacit approval.