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There are many ways to kill employee engagement. Here’s a possible list:

  1. Do not communicate about the goals, vision, …
  2. Never give feedback about what people are doing.
  3. Check every move people make.
  4. Put yourself first
  5. Don’t apply the team/company rules on yourself
  6. Be dishonest.
  7. Make them ask for permission before doing something.
  8. Show no interest whatsoever in who people are.
  9. Talk negatively about the company.
  10. Do not care for wellbeing
  11. Put people under pressure as motivation technique.
  12. Leave the office before other people do (every day).
  13. Think it’s normal that people put in extra hours.
  14. Allow incompetent and disengaged people to stay on board.
  15. Make arbitrary decisions, don’t bother to explain them.
  16. Do not allow people to benefit from the company’s flexible work arrangements.
  17. Tell people they’re useless.
  18. Don’t show vulnerability, don’t allow others to show vulnerability.
  19. Never make exceptions.
  20. Always make exceptions.
  21. Hire people who are weaker than you.
  22. Insist on people doing things your way.
  23. Never surprise them.
  24. Don’t show respect for your customer.
  25. Talk negatively about your boss.
  26. Never apologize for things you’ve done.
  27. Never say thank you.
  28. Be a micro-manager.
  29. Measure everything.
  30. Rank & yank people.
  31. Don’t have team meetings. Do everything in one-to-one meetings.
  32. Don’t keep your promises.
  33. Forbid people to show emotions at work.
  34. Never talk informally.
  35. Manage people with to-do-lists.
  36. Don’t show courage in difficult times.
  37. Forget birthdays (of some members of your team).
  38. Hide behind the mandate that you (do not) have.
  39. Hide things from people.
  40. Don’t look into their eyes.
  41. Never help them when they are in trouble.
  42. Say to people you’d like to fire them, but that HR won’t let you.
  43. Never defend them when they are under attack.
  44. Don’t make use of their talents and strengths.
  45. Write them emails at night, asking for answers by 8:00 am.
  46. Keep files on them, and make sure they know this. Keep track of everything they do.
  47. Blame them publicly.
  48. Think the H in HR stands for Humiliation.
  49. Think you’re irreplaceable.
  50. Never ask how people feel.
  51. Take the credit for what they’ve done right.
  52. Be indifferent to their proposals and ideas.
  53. Think you have (to have) all the answers, and if you don’t, make them up.
  54. Ask people to sty late (Hey, you’ve ordered the pizza).
  55. Build a culture of internal competition (win-lose).
  56. Don’t trust people.

In one word: be a lousy leader.

David Ducheyne is the founder of Otolith. As a former HR and business leader he focuses now on humanising strategy execution.


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