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Tag Archives: employee disengagement

Blocking internal transfers and promotions is a bad idea!

Demotivator on Warning Road SignSometimes, managers deliberately and consciously take actions that while logical, create situations that are non-productive and hugely demotivating. Unfortunately, this is more usual than not.  In fact, this was the very topic of a one of my regular The Globe & Mail columns back in November 2014 titled Why do smart managers do stupid things?

I continue to see examples of this dysfunctional behaviour repeatedly in my leadership development practice.  Last week I had a very positive conversation with a group of leaders in one of my client organizations, but it reminded me of this very negative situation that I came across (and blogged about) back in 2016.  In fact, it stirred up such dialogue in this group that I felt it was worth bringing up in the blog again.

I got a call from an employee at a large client company, very upset because his manager had blocked his internal transfer.  This organization has an online internal job bulletin board that permits employees to apply for internal jobs within the company.  This particular employee had, with his manager’s knowledge, applied for a job in another department.  Since he has been in his current role for over three years, he was seeking different challenges and new learning opportunities.  The interview process went well and he was optimistic about getting this new assignment.  Imagine his surprise to learn that he did not get the job because his manager had blocked the transfer.  Turns out that there had been some other recent unexpected personnel changes in the department, and his manager felt that his move would be too much change, too fast. Continue reading

Yet another sure-fire way to create disengaged employees

disengaged employeesLast month, I blogged about two different scenarios demonstrating how otherwise-reasonable managers do stupid things that lead to demotivated and disengaged employees.  Specifically, I wrote about managers who short-sightedly block their employees’ internal transfers and promotions, and those who erroneously mistake attendance for productivity.  Both those posts generated several emails (and even a phone call), all from readers who agreed completely with the points I was making.  A couple of weeks later, I received another email from a reader, outlining yet another situation that occurs repeatedly, almost always resulting in disengaged employees.  This event – when managers watch the clock to see what time employees arrive and leave, but then don’t give them credit for the work they do on their own time – is a huge demotivator.

Work isn’t just done from the office any more!

I couldn’t agree more!  In today’s world of advanced technology, work isn’t just conducted in the office anymore.  Continue reading

Foolish short-sighted management practices … the chronicles continue!

Last week I blogged about managers who short-sightedly block their employees’ internal transfers and promotions.  Well it must have struck a nerve for many, because I received several emails and even a couple of phone calls on the subject (all of whom echoed my sentiments, by the way).  It was during one of these phone conversations that another example of foolish short-sighted management practices came up.  This one: managers who turn absence issues into performance issues.

Attendance does not equal productivity

Now once again, let me clarify.  I’m not talking about the poorly-performing employee who, amongst other failings, is consistently absent without good reason.  Yes, in that situation, it IS a performance issue.  But what I am talking about are the short-sighted managers who equate attendance with productivity.  The reality of life is that employees – good employees – get injured, have children who get sick, face vehicle breakdowns, and experience plumbing emergencies.  And when that happens, what they really value is understanding and flexibility from their boss.  Understanding that they didn’t choose to have this adversity befall them, and the flexibility to find alternate solutions that will allow them to deal with the problem at hand AND meet their responsibilities at work.  If you are the manager who doesn’t get this, then you do so at your own peril! Continue reading

Yet another example of foolish short-sighted company policies!

Over the years, I have often blogged about foolish short-sighted company policies and management practices – forced ranking, archaic performance reviews, the requirement that employees substantiate bereavement leave, assuming that attendance equals productivity – to name just a few.  Well, what is really mind-boggling to me is that the list continues to grow.

Today’s example of foolish short-sighted company policies and/or management practices that is irking me: that a manager can unilaterally deny an employee’s application for an internal transfer or promotion.

Unilaterally denying internal transfers or promotions is just wrong!

Now before you start on me, I am well aware of the reasons that managers might want this discretion.  I fully understand that constant turnover in a department is disruptive and difficult.  Sure, you want employees to be in positions long enough so that they are not just making their way up the learning curve, but also around for a reasonable period to master responsibilities and make positive improvements in their roles.  I get that!

But far too often, I come across managers who hold employees back for no other reason than they want to eliminate (or reduce) interruption and instability in their own departments.  For purely selfish reasons, they block their (good) people from moving on to other favourable opportunities.  And because they have been given the unilateral discretion to deny their employees these possibilities, they do exactly that.  Ironically though, these actions don’t usually benefit either the manager (or the organization) in the long-term.  Good employees who are obstructed from achieving their own aspirations get demoralized and demotivated, and eventually just leave the organization and walk …. usually right over to the competitors.

There is a reasonable alternative

Continue reading

One (foolish) way to create disengaged employees

One of the biggest de-motivators for employees is when their managers can’t (or won’t) exercise flexibility in the application of rules.   I repeatedly blog on how not realizing this leads to disengaged employees – a video blog just last month, and this real-life example about how a talented employee quit – to list just a couple.  Well, it’s happened again!

disengaged employees

I spoke last week to a senior manager at a client organization who oversees a global group of employees who are located in several countries around the world.  In order to keep the lines of communication flowing, she participates in a weekly meeting that is scheduled to fit the working hours of the majority of the attendees.  Unfortunately though, it means that she needs to be online and on the phone at 5 AM in her local time zone.  Not a problem from her perspective, she’d much rather accommodate her staff’s schedules rather than force a meeting time to fit her needs.  Not a problem that is, except for the directive that she has received from her immediate director.

You see, her immediate director insists that she must be present in the company’s offices in order to participate in the meeting.  Yes, that’s right, she can’t dial and log in from her computer in her home office; she must get dressed, drive to work, and sit at her desk in an almost empty office building in order to “work”.  Continue reading

The piss-off factor: yet another short-sighted stupid action by a well-meaning manager

The Piss-Off Factor (or POF)piss-off factor is something that short-sighted managers do to destroy employee morale, and they come up repeatedly on the blog, usually because they happen more often than they should!  Well, I was just made aware the other day of yet another piss-off event; this time about parking!

Seriously?!  This is what is known as a piss-off factor

This company’s offices, even though in a large city, are not in the downtown core.  This particular employee was required to go downtown for a work-related task, so he drove his vehicle there, parked, and later claimed the cost of parking on his expense statement.  Sounds reasonable, right?  Apparently not.  His expense claim was denied.  Reason: the company policy states that employees can claim lodging, meals and incidental costs, including parking for a vehicle, ONLY when they travel out of town.  Because he was parking his vehicle in the same city, the expense claim was denied!  If you think this doesn’t make sense, there’s more.  Continue reading

Trying to motivate your employees? Could you be inadvertently demotivating them?

Demotivator on Warning Road SignA while ago, I wrote a blog post titled How to lower productivity and demotivate your workforce that illustrated how process bottlenecks stopped employees from being productive and motivated. And sometimes, managers deliberately and consciously take actions that while logical, inadvertently create situations that are non-productive and demotivating. In fact, I wrote a column about just this topic in The Globe & Mail last November titled Why do smart managers do stupid things? Today’s blog post takes this quandary further. Today’s topic is about when things that are intended to motivate people not only turn out to be hugely demotivating, but also actually incent people to act in the absolute opposite way than was meant. As leaders charged with inspiring and encouraging staff, it’s important to consider whether our good intentions may in fact be producing an unexpected negative result. Let me share some interesting (and unusual) examples of incentives that, while good-intentioned, were hugely demotivating. Continue reading

Five foolproof ways to demotivate your employees

My latest Leadership Lab column in The Globe & Mail is up on their site today.

Five foolproof ways to destroy employee morale

is about what some managers do to completely destroy their employees’ self-confidence, drag down team morale, and create a negative working environment. In short, they demotivate their people! Fortunately, most of the leaders I work with are keenly focused on keeping their people committed and loyal because they know that engaged and empowered employees perform to their highest abilities and produce exceptional results. But every so often, I come across managers who seem hell bent on doing just the opposite. Not surprisingly, their staff hate coming to work, and positivity and productivity plummets. This is their story of failure.

G&M081415

Well, what do you have to add to the list? What have you seen that demotivates, demoralizes and disempowers employees? Rather than comment here on the blog, please add your viewpoint directly to The Globe‘s site, as their (much larger) readership will also have a chance to join the discussion. Or send me a tweet (@mergespeaks). I’m eagerly looking forward to your reactions and perspectives.

And please do me one more favour – help me get the word out … pass the link along to your staff and colleagues. I’d love to hear their thoughts as well; I bet they have a few to add to this list!

I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Here is a direct link to the article in case you need to cut and paste it elsewhere: http://tgam.ca/ELDe

Here’s one sure-fire way to create employee disengagement!

A few weeks ago, I blogged about a fairly common workplace practice, particularly in large organizations, of requiring that employees provide a death certificate or a funeral notice in order to take a few days of (paid) bereavement leave. In a nutshell, I believe that this is An archaic practice that destroys trust in the workplace. Well, it prompted a call from a reader, a well-respected manager in a client organization, who wanted to share his personal experience with me. While his incident isn’t exactly the same situation that I outlined in my previous blog post, it is related enough that I thought it was worth writing about today. Unfortunately, this is a prime (sad) example of how to create employee disengagement.

Time PassingSeveral months ago, his mother passed away. Given her age, it was not entirely unexpected, but he and his family were grief-stricken nevertheless. Due to significant work commitments (he was managing a major project implementation), he was able to take only four days off to put his mother to rest, and then he came right back to work. But he felt that he had not fully supported his family through this difficult life transition, so several months later, once the project was winding down, he sought to repair this deficit. He tried to negotiate some substantial time off from the company so that he could spend some time reflecting and grieving his loss with others in his family. Much to his dismay, the company wouldn’t oblige. Continue reading