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Fifty Ways a Manager Can Get Employees to Quit

I know some of you are list hounds, so if you’d rather skip the monologue, scroll down a bit.

A month ago I shared some specific ways to get ahead at work. For me it worked, I got promoted within my IT group and was actually bumped up two spots. As I mentioned in that post, I was promoted directly by a VP (my boss’ boss), which was unusual. Since then my boss was let go basically because anarchy broke out in the group and people were quitting daily. However, it got me thinking. What if I didn’t have a VP that recognized my efforts? When does the atmosphere at work get so backstabbing and bureaucratic, that there is no good process to overcome it? What if a star employee wants to grow but management doesn’t know what to do or how to take advantage of the enthusiasm and motivation?

Those are all questions that I want address because they are best answered individually. However, there are several things that mid-level managers can do to keep employees happy and there are even more things they can do to irritate them to the point of quitting or becoming a virus.

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.

  • Assign enough projects with tight deadlines so that your team has no choice but to work a sixty-hour week while you only work thirty hours.
  • Cap overtime pay. 
  • Do not offer project pay. 
  • Constantly underestimate the time it takes to get things done and then penalize employees’ bonuses because they didn’t hit the goal. 
  • Talk more than you listen. 
  • Tell the team to begin planning for tons of deployments but never obtain the budget to actually implement any of them. 
  • 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. 
  • Always take sides in disputes instead of moderating. 
  • Avoid looking people in the eye. 
  • Reprimand employees in front of the entire team. 
  • Hire someone that is very weak to take the place of a veteran and expect the same results from the team. 
  • Reprimand Mark but don’t reprimand Tony when he makes the same error. 
  • Consistency is good. Never ask you employees if they are challenged enough or want to take on more responsibility. 
  • Make promises to internal customers but have no idea on the elements involved in getting the task done. 
  • 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. 
  • Suzy can take 20 minute breaks instead of 10 because she’s a little cuter than Paul. 
  • Give your employees second tier systems to work with but expect top tier results. 
  • Never cross train anybody on anything. The skills they walked in with are the skills they are leaving with. 
  • Mandate a new policy without consulting a single person that will have to live with it. 
  • Give employees low raises because the more you save, the higher your bonus. 
  • When talking to an employee on the phone, type away at your email. That’s a great time to catch-up! 
  • 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. 
  • Create a desk cleanliness policy. 
  • When Suzy comes in late and leaves early, and we complain, do nothing about it. 
  • Instead of offering to help hands-on, watch from a distance and provide support over email. 
  • Mandate that the entire team use a single to-do list application simply because you think it’s best. 
  • Make your best employees train the newbies for weeks at a time but insist that all deadlines be met. 
  • Never answer your cell phone. 
  • Never be the on-call guy to share in the team burden. 
  • 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. 
  • Send employees lots of chain letters, poems and other crap spam when they are hard at work. 
  • Constantly give your employees vague project plans and get pissed when the result is not what you wanted. 
  • Refuse to upgrade a system after the entire team asks for it and then be sure not to give a valid reason. 
  • Blame everything on your boss because no one will ever call you on it. 
  • Make all men wear ties. 
  • Do not let employees expense cell phone use but require a cell phone number for the on-call guy. 
  • Shut off access to Google and Ebay because it’s not required for work. 
  • Never let employees hangout and use the corp. network to play games after hours. 
  • Tell employees to do plan B because you will save $11 even though plan A is the safer, more efficient way to go. 
  • I don’t care what they are working on. No one should get a monitor larger than yours. 
  • Insist employees come to your wife’s silly Barbecue.
  • Give advice on topics you are only partially educated in. 
  • When the kudos are handed out, you should take the credit because you managed the team. Do not give credit to anyone else. 
  • Monitor all phone use. 
  • Charge someone .25 days off for a dentist appointment. 
  • Lecture the team at least weekly. 
  • Hold team meetings to provide updates even though the updates only pertain to one-third of team. 
  • Buy the team lunch and always forget that Vegan in the corner ... he’ll come around. 
  • Make the team fill out self evaluations but provide very vague feedback on what they type. 
  • Sleep with that girl Suzy on the team. No one will suspect she’s getting preferential treatment. 
  • Call the redhead guy on the team Rusty. Everyone will laugh and you are sure to win their hearts. 
  • Make sure the cubicles are as close to each other as physically possible. The open areas surrounding the group will be used eventually. 
  • Make the entire team read a book and then set aside three hours to discuss it. This is sure to increase productivity. 
  • Let a couple people work from the house, but provide no reason for it or ways for others to obtain the right. 
  • Insist that employees complete projects that even you admit are worthless.

Like I mentioned, I had more but it was too close to home. If you have any intention of becoming a manager, don’t do these things. I don’t care if you are in charge of the frozen foods at the grocery store ... don’t make people feel worthless and don’t undermine their abilities. If you are just starting out as a manager there are two books that you should consider reading. One is Becoming a Successful Manager and the other, which is my favorite, is The First Time Manager

Originally published on Dumb Little Man