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Tag Archives: piss-off factor

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

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.


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:

Piss-off factors – how smart managers do stupid things

My latest column in The Globe & Mail‘s Leadership Lab series is out today!

“Why do smart managers do stupid things?”

In this column, I talk about Piss-Off Factors (or POFs), things that short-sighted managers do to destroy employee morale. POFs are something that I have blogged about often, primarily because they occur repeatedly. And interestingly enough, they are rarely intentional (which is why they are SO stupid)!

G&M110414 Continue reading

Lack of strategic thinking by Air Canada misses opportunity to build goodwill

I often write about the piss-off factor – it’s when short-sighted and small-minded managers make decisions that discourage and turn off their employees and customers.  Like the time when the owner of a floor installation company lied just to avoid paying for a $200 repair.  Unfortunately, there never seems to be a shortage of examples proving that the piss-off factor is alive and well in corporate offices around the world.  And just recently, yet another example surfaced again.  Now I’ll start by saying that normally I’m an Air Canada fan.  In fact, I’m such a fan that I’ve blogged positively about them in the past (See Good leaders listen to customers and employees and Good leaders respond to customer feedback).  But in this recent situation, I think their management missed the mark, by a mile!  Let me explain.

AirplaneSeatsBecause I am a frequent flyer, Air Canada gives me a limited number of eupgrade credits that I can use for complimentary upgrades from the economy to business class cabin.  As someone who spends much of her working life in the air, this is a perk that I appreciate greatly.  And the more (distance) I fly with Air Canada, the more credits they give me at pre-assigned thresholds.  These eupgrade credits are on a request-only space-available basis.  Which means that I can make a request, and if (and only if) there are vacant unsold seats in the front cabin, I will receive an upgrade, often at the gate just before boarding.  When you think about it, it’s a great way for Air Canada to do something nice for their most frequent flyers and build immense goodwill; and at zero incremental cost since these are seats that would have gone empty anyway.  Great idea – but then they went and made a single bone-headed move that promptly destroyed the goodwill they’d worked so hard to build!  Continue reading

The piss-off factor. Short-sighted stupid actions by people in management


Aerial view of downtown Calgary on June 28, 2013

As most of you reading this blog probably know by now, much of the city of Calgary AB as been in a state of emergency since Thursday June 20 when heavy rains across southern Alberta lead to widespread flooding.  Downtown Calgary was evacuated that morning as flood waters breached the banks of the Bow River and groundwater began to swell.  Basements and underground parkades filled up quickly and water rose several feet in the main floors of many buildings.  In fact, as you can see in the photo, at one point, downtown Calgary streets could have been mistaken for the canals in Venice!  Starting last week, power has been restored to many neighborhoods and the giant clean-up effort has begun.  A few offices in downtown Calgary opened for business again on Tuesday June 25, and as the week continued more followed suit as additional buildings were cleared for safety and other requirements.  By all standards, this is probably the worst disaster Calgary has ever faced in its history as a modern city.  Which brings me to the subject of today’s post!

The piss-off factor.  I’ve blogged about the piss-off factor before (in fact, just last week) – it’s when short-sighted and small-minded managers do stupid things to discourage and turn off their employees.  Well, it’s alive and well, and surfacing yet again!  Continue reading

The piss-off factor. The short-sighted stupidity continues

So regular readers will remember my posts about how the short-sighted and small-minded managers at a certain company are doing really stupid things, and in the process, discouraging and demoralizing their employees.  Back in June it had to do with an employee’s expense statement, and later in July, it was about a “thank you” event for their employees.  Well, they’re back at it again.  Last week I got yet another update in this continuing saga of stupidity and short-sightedness.

Many of the employees at this company travel for business, working with staff at various remote locations to implement a new version of a computer system.  While away from their homes, as is usual in most organizations, the employees are permitted to claim their meals and other expenses on their routine expense statements.  Occasionally, if they’ve spent the day working with a local staff member who has assisted greatly in getting things done, the traveling employee will invite the local worker for dinner, both as a thank-you and as a way to continue the business discussion after work hours.  Well, it’s coming close to the end of the fiscal year and budgets are tight.  In order to reduce expenses, management has issued a mandate that these types of dinners are no longer permitted unless they are approved in advance and in writing, and after demonstrating just cause.  Most of the employees are puzzled by this management decision.  For the relatively small cost, these dinners which are actually not that frequent, are an easy way to build goodwill with key local staff and go a long way towards assuring teamwork.

After the edict was issued, one (brave and fearless) employee spoke up Continue reading

The piss-off factor. More stupid actions by short-sighted managers

Just a little over a month ago, I blogged about the piss-off factor – how short-sighted and small-minded managers do stupid things to discourage and turn off their employees.  Apparently it struck a chord with many of you because not only did a few of you comment right here on the blog, but I also received emails and phone calls from several of you on this subject.  Unfortunately, it turns out that the piss-off factor is alive and well in many organizations!

Just yesterday I got an update from the person who gave me the original story.  Same dork management team, still doing stupid things.  This time they held a “fun” afternoon event at a local eatery, ostensibly to thank employees for a job well done.  All the employees in the division were invited.  But the division also has a group of regular contract staff – people who are employed by an external contract firm but work nevertheless side-by-side on a daily basis with the regular employees in this area – and these staff were deliberately excluded.  Because they were not employees.  There is also a small group of IT professionals who are from another area of the company, but who support these regular employees on a daily and consistent basis.  They were also not invited.  The reason: once you start inviting people who are not employees of the department, where do you draw the line?  “It’s a slippery slope, and we can’t go there; far better to just limit it to the regular employees.  Otherwise, costs will just spiral out of control,” said one of the managers.

Seriously??  If you’re celebrating accomplishments, then doesn’t it make sense to invite all the people who had a hand in making success happen?  At the end of the day, it’s a small gesture in the big scheme of things – chances are that most of the “other” staff would just drop by briefly to have a quick drink and say hello – but it’s a gesture that goes a long way.  Perhaps more importantly, excluding these contract and IT staff from the event is a huge de-motivator.  If you want to make people work as if they are part of your team, then make them feel like they are part of your team!

What do you think?  Is it a “slippery slope” as one manager called it?  Or can I chalk this up to yet another (sigh!) example of the piss-off factor in action?

The piss-off factor. How some managers do stupid things

Sometimes I just don’t GET it.  There are times that I really struggle to understand why some managers make bone-headed moves, why they do stupid things that accomplish nothing productive for the organization but instead piss their employees off!

A long-time reader of this blog called me the other day to tell me about a situation he recently observed in the company he works for.  A junior employee, let’s call her Samantha, has been working temporarily at another company location, helping to implement a new software system in the organization.  To save money, the company has a policy that employees are only allowed to return home once every two weeks, which means that Samantha must spend the in-between weekend away from home.  While she is not compensated for this weekend away from home, the company does cover her hotel, meals and other incidental expenses at the distant location.  You may question whether this is fair or not, but it is the arrangement that Samantha has agreed to, and she seemed satisfied with it … well, until just recently.  You see Samantha submitted her latest expense report to her manager in which she claimed just a little over $100 for dry cleaning and laundry for one two-week trip.  Soon after, her manager called her into his office to advise her that upon review by the management team, $100 seemed “excessive” for laundry, and that she needed to reduce her expenses in this area.

Are you kidding me???  Continue reading