The Secrets of Disengagement: 7 Easy Ways to Get Your Team to Hate Their Jobs

If you are attempting to covertly sabotage your department by demoralizing and disengaging as much of your staff as possible, these 7 surefire methods will show you how.

These tactics are used by leadership in both small businesses and large corporations alike, with very predictable results. Even better, you might be practicing at least one of these methods already — so you could be much closer to total dysfunction than you thought.

1. Make Rules without Reasons

Since reasonable employees will expect to see several guidelines in place for the purposes of maintaining a healthy and productive company culture, just having rules is not enough to disengage your workforce.

Be sure to create some rules that are based on either your own arbitrary preferences, isolated incidents (that are unlikely to get repeated anyway), or just good old-fashioned paranoia.

Most importantly, see to it that you never provide an explanation for these new policies and refuse to provide one should anyone ask. Just tell them that you’re the boss and that should be reason enough, or that this is the way they did things at your last company.

You’ll be amazed at how quickly this works to reduce morale and overall engagement. For an added punch, preface your new rules with the words, “Effective Immediately.” This should get most people off board. As an easy way to remember this tip, consider the equation R — R = R.

Rules minus Reason equals Rebellion.

2. Micromanage

Since employees thrive on the perceptions of trust and empowerment, the last thing you’ll want to do if you are trying to sabotage your company is to encourage your team to think of any innovations, or give them freedom with how they complete their projects.

If you truly want to dis-empower them, you must check in with them obsessively to make sure every step of the assignment is done exactly the way you would do it.

Otherwise, they might believe that you trust them with making some decisions, and they even may feel a sense of satisfaction upon completion of the project. In order to successfully take down your team you cannot let these things happen.

3. Let Them Think They Don’t Matter

Many team members take pride in the idea that they are carrying out a key company function and are valued by their leaders.

This is bound to fill them with a sense of purpose and keep them engaged in their work. You must destroy this notion by letting them know how replaceable they are.

Be sure to avoid giving them any positive feedback on the things they do right, but don’t hesitate to bring forth, in painstaking detail the things that they do wrong. As an added bonus, bring their shortcomings to their attention in front of their peers, as opposed to having a one-on-one conversation with them in a private setting.

4. Refuse to Hear New Ideas

The more democratized the company culture, the happier the workplace.

Allowing an employee to think they have a good idea — or could potentially make a difference in the workplace — sends the message that the company is looking to improve, and thinks that employees may be talented individuals with worthwhile suggestions. You will never be able to destroy the workplace as long as you let that happen! This is what you need to do: Every time a novel idea is brought to your attention, just don’t listen to it.

Before your subordinate is even through talking, cut them off with one of the following lines which have been scientifically proven to slow, and even stop the creativity process:

  • The only problem with that is…
  • We can’t do that because…
  • We tried that before and it doesn’t work.

Do this a few times to each team member and we assure you that your employees will stop coming to you with all of those annoying ideas and not be so engaged in their work.

5. Require Flexibility without Giving Flexibility

You may often need your team to work longer hours, or even come in an extra day or two during their time off in order to achieve company goals or meet certain deadlines.

Of course, most employees are willing to do this without much resistance when flexibility is perceived to be a two way street. Therefore, in order to prevent employees from staying extra hours willingly, you need to come up with an effective strategy that causes them to do this begrudgingly, further lowering the morale of the department.

This is most easily accomplished by nitpicking non-consequential, occasional tardiness, providing a guilt trip in exchange for each PTO request — even if that employee rarely uses PTO — and demonstrating a consistent lack of flexibility on your part.

6. Believe That Good Employees Are Good Mind Readers

When your team members are given a clear sense of direction concerning your expectations of them, and have unfettered access to the necessary resources to perform their jobs, you will likely end up with contented, engaged employees.

This is a huge problem if you’re trying to create a negative company culture and obliterate your department’s productivity.

To accomplish these things you will need to adopt a “they should just know” mindset. Simply pretend that your staff were born knowing your expectations of them so that you can justify not voicing your concerns to them. Avoid any uncomfortable confrontation, and just sit back and silently hope that they will figure out on their own why you are upset.

Resist any urges to be transparent, and if you absolutely must address anything, make sure it is done in a passive-aggressive manner and not in a way that would effectively communicate your desires.

7. Expect 110%, 110% of the Time

Accepting the fact that your employees are human, and that even the healthiest people cycle through an array of energy and motivational levels could give your subordinates the impression that you have realistic expectations of them.

That may cause them to respect you and the company, and in turn encourage them to do their best for you at any given time. Having unrealistic expectations is the only way to ward off any remaining vestiges of engagement and job satisfaction. You don’t want to be the boss that is tough, but fair. You want to be the boss that is tough. Period.

Learn more about Happster— our workplace happiness app designed to supercharge employee happiness and workplace engagement across your organization or team.