Unhappy Employees = Unhappy Brands

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This photo is real.
It is a photo of a real meeting in a real meeting room somewhere in corporate America.
This day-long meeting cost about $16,000. (Money well spent, obviously.)
The people in the background are real people and those are their real facial expressions.
They really
that bored.
This was the day when I discovered that Powerpoint, like cars, should require a license.
Only one guy noticed the tiny puppy toy on the table and my camera, but he is still too bored to even crack a smile.
Seriously. Look at him. He is completely numb to everything going on around him.
The others are doodling.
And yes, there is a powerpoint presentation going on at that moment.
Enthusiasm, productivity and engaged workgroups rock my world.

Wow. Judging by the number of posts I have run into recently that deal with unhappy employees (and the nefarious effect unhappy workers can have on everything from customer service to product innovation - which are two pillars of every strong brand,) September must be disgruntled employee month. Is there something about September/back to school/shorter days/ year-end deadlines and fall trade show season that tends to stress people out?

(If you have any studies on this in your back pocket, please forward them my way.)

I just ran into this great piece on the dumb little man blog, cleverly titled "50 Ways a Manager can get Employees to Quit." (In case the title wasn't clear enough, the piece gives us a list of 50 ways a manager can get - yes, you guessed it - his employees to quit. Or at least the ones who aren't so desperate for a steady paycheck that they'll cling to a job they hate. ... Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

If you want to check out the original post, click here, but if you want to stick around, here's the skinny:

I polled the other guys in my group and we built a damn good list of things that our IT manager did that led to him losing his $100K/year job. Note that I left a few specific things out because I don't need anyone getting pinched. If you repeat these things successfully, you too will get your team to hate you. If you are a reporting to someone that does these things, print this and do the old Office Space under the door routine.

50. Assign enough projects with tight deadlines so that your team has no choice but to work a 60 hour week while you only work 30 hours
49. Cap overtime pay.
48. Do not offer project pay.
47. Constantly underestimate the time it takes to get things done and then penalize employees' bonuses because they didn't hit the goal.
46.Talk more than you listen.
45. Tell the team to begin planning for tons of deployments but never obtain the budget to actually implement any of them.
44. Don't trust written time cards. Make employees email you when they get to the office so you can see a timestamp when they get in.
43. Always take sides in disputes instead of moderating.
42. Avoid looking people in the eye.
41. Reprimand employees in front of the entire team.
40. Hire someone that is very weak to take the place of a veteran and expect the same results from the team.
39. Reprimand Mark but don't reprimand Tony when he makes the same error.
38. Consistency is good. Never ask you employees if they are challenged enough or want to take on more responsibility.
37. Make promises to internal customers but have no idea on the elements involved in getting the task done.
36. You know that Tony is a slacker, but he is really cool to hang out with so keep him around and give him good reviews.
35. Suzy can take 20 minute breaks instead of 10 because she's a little cuter than Paul.
34. Give your employees 2nd tier systems to work with but expect top tier results.
33. Never cross train anybody on anything. The skills they walked in with are the skills they are leaving with.
32. Mandate a new policy without consulting a single person that will have to live with it.
31. Give employees low raises because the more you save, the higher your bonus.
30. When talking to an employee on the phone, type away at your email. That's a great time to catch-up!
29. When someone comes to you with an issue regarding another employee, use a lot of big words to explain the situation but really take no interest or action.
28. Create a desk cleanliness policy.
27. When Suzy comes in late and leaves early, and we complain, do nothing about it.
26. Instead of offering to help hands-on, watch from a distance and provide support over email.
25. Mandate that the entire team use a single to-do list application simply because you think it's best.
24. Make your best employees train the newbies for weeks at a time but insist that all deadlines be met.
23. Never answer your cell phone.
22. Never be the on-call guy to share in the team burden.
21. Have a group of employees that you get a long with and go out to lunch with while those that you don't like get left out.
20. Send employees lots of chain letters, poems and other crap spam when they are hard at work.
19. Constantly give your employees vague project plans and get pissed when the result is not what you wanted.
18. Refuse to upgrade a system after the entire team asks for it and then be sure not to give a valid reason.
17. Blame everything on your boss because no one will ever call you on it.
16. Make all men wear ties.
15. Do not let employees expense cell phone use but require a cell phone number for the on-call guy.
14. Shut off access to Google and Ebay because it's not "required for work".
13. Never let employees hangout and use the corp. network to play games after hours.
12. Tell employees to do plan B because you will save $11 even though plan A is the safer, more efficient way to go.
11. I don't care what they are working on. No one should get a monitor larger than yours
10. Insist employees come to your wife's silly Barbecue.
9. Give advice on topics you are only partially educated in.
8. When the kudos are handed out, you should take the credit because you managed the team. Do not give credit to anyone else.
7. Monitor all phone use.
6. Charge someone .25 days off for a dentist appointment.
5. Lecture the team at least weekly.
4. Hold team meetings to provide updates even though the updates only pertain to one-third of team.
3. Buy the team lunch and always forget that Vegan in the corner...he'll come around.
2. Make the team fill out self evaluations but provide very vague feedback on what they type.
1.Sleep with that girl Suzy on the team. No one will suspect she's getting preferential treatment.

Um... wait... there are more than 50 on this list. Darn.

0. Call the redhead guy on the team Rusty. Everyone will laugh and you are sure to win their hearts.
-1. Make sure the cubicles are as close to each other as physically possible. The open areas surrounding the group will be used eventually.
-2. Make the entire team read a book and then set aside 3 hours to discuss it. This is sure to increase productivity.
-3. Let a couple people work from the house, but provide no reason for it or ways for others to obtain the right.
-4. Insist that employees complete projects that even you admit are worthless.

Here are a few more from F360 to make it an even 60:

-5. Hire. Fire. Hire. Fire. Hire. Fire. Keep that revolving door a-spinning. (There's an endless supply of recent college grads willing to work 60 hours for piddles, so use it.)
-6. When something doesn't go as well as you'd hoped, always pass the buck.
-7. Ask your staff to come in on weekends. (Tip: Start with one weekend here and there, until you bring them in at least one weekend per month... then two.) If you run out of reasons, start scheduling "team building" seminars and whatnot. (Why should employees have a family life when they could be helping each other tackle rope courses and "Survivor" style beach challenges all weekend?)
-8. After denying decent raises to deserving employees because "things are a bit tight," show off your new luxury car and talk incessantly about how much of a pain in the butt that enormous new house you're building is starting to become. (Those damn custom pools are a bitch on the landscaping.)
-9. Make no effort not to be clueless about your team's projects when it's just you and your people, but act like you're 100% on top of things in front of your boss. For bonus points, act impatient with your team members anytime they can't answer one of your irrelevant questions. After all, you're a bit annoyed about having to do everything for them these days, and it's cool to show the boss a little sliver of your human side.
-10. Deny any and all requests for additional training or certifications because there's just no time for it.

Nothing will wreck a perfectly great team's vibe faster than a boss who a) makes them feel exploited and unappreciated, b) makes them feel that they are being treated unfairly, and c) gets in their way when all they are trying to do is a great job.

Yeah, it's that simple.

Still... what's with the employee unhappiness thing going on these last two weeks?

Before you answer that, check out this blast from the past (and especially the wheel of customer service and brand identity doom... or whatever).

Maybe it's a seasonal thing.

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