Professional Skills Development: 4 Ways to Make Your Employees—or Yourself— Seriously Miserable!
There was a smart, sophisticated and utterly sarcastic article in The Washington Post, March 6, 2012 entitled, How to Completely, Utterly Destroy an Employee’s Work Life, by Teresa Amabile professor/director of research at Harvard Business School and Steven Kramer a developmental psychologist/researcher. They are coauthors of The Progress Principle.
I’m going to summarize the article below. Then I have some questions for Y-O-U. Do a little self-analysis based on this powerful research:
Question for Company Leaders & Managers:
If you are a leader within a corporation or large organization—take a look in the mirror. How might you be destroying your employee’s happiness?
Question for You Who Run Your Own Small Business:
If you run your own business, I want to ask you to take a look in the mirror too. How might you be making yourself miserable on the job by being your own bad boss?
The Article in Short
Amabile and Kramer collected diaries over 15 years from 238 professionals from 7 companies for several days over period of a number of months.
“All told, those diaries described nearly 12,000 days – how people felt, and the events that stood out in their minds…we compared the events occurring on the best days with those on the worst…What we discovered is that the key factor you can use to make employees miserable on the job is to simply keep them from making progress in meaningful work.”
Sadly, they go on to say that
“Many leaders, from team managers to CEOs, are already surprisingly expert at smothering employee engagement. In fact, on one-third of those 12,000 days, the person writing the diary was either unhappy at work, demotivated by the work, or both.”
Are You a Bad Boss or Manager of a Team in a Corporation?
If you work within a large company, it’s time to look in the mirror for a little self-analysis. Amabile and Kramer highlight 4 ways to make your employees even more miserable. How do you score?
Again, summarizing Amabile and Kramer:
- Never allow pride of accomplishment. Constantly change the rules, create roadblocks and game-changers so employees can never accomplish a task or feel good about completion of a project.
- Find every opportunity to block their progress on projects. Do not set clear goals and be sure to give conflicting goals to keep your employees off balance.
- Give yourself some credit. Remain unaware of your team’s unhappiness. Blame them for low morale.
- Kill the messengers of low morale with denial and retaliation. Let them know they should be happy to simply have a job and that they can be easily replaced.
Are You Making Yourself Miserable as Boss of Your Own Business?
People who run their own small business or private practice often don’t think of themselves as being their own boss, let alone a potentially “bad” boss—but let me tell you, most small business owners are notoriously hard on themselves! Get that mirror out and take a look. How do you score on these 4 factors?
- Never take pride. Count all the ways you keep yourself from setting, accomplishing and celebrating goals that grow and leverage your business. Never stop to list everything you have done in the past month or quarter or year. Berate yourself at every step. Do NOT make a list of 1-3 things you want to accomplish today. Allow yourself to be distracted or caught up in bright, shiny objects.
- Block progress on projects. Again, do you have a clear 30, 60 and 90 day plan aimed at your Big Picture Vision? Do you have a clear Vision for your business growth? When you start a project do you allow yourself to veer off course and become distracted?
- Give yourself some credit—actually we are going to turn this one around for you as business owner. You probably always taking credit for everything that goes awry. You constantly feel inadequate, self-doubting and put yourself down. Right?
- Kill the messenger. Yes, running your own business is hard and demanding. Everyday you wonder if you are cut out for it. Here’s where you get to list the many times you threaten to give up, to quit. It’s when you have a regular pity party and get others to agree with you that it’s to hard to make your business work. What were you thinking anyway? Maybe you should just go get a j.o.b.!