The 5 biggest motivation killers
If you want to decrease your people’s motivation, we have some advice on how to achieve this easily. Don’t ease up when applying it. Be consistent and you’ll soon see fruits of your efforts. Results guaranteed.
No feedback. We mean NONE.
Rigorously avoid any and all feedback. You mustn’t appreciate any success or good result, and in the same way ignore bad results. The worker has to feel that it doesn’t really matter how they do something. The less you notice their work, the sooner their motivation to perform well will disappear.
Be careful not to use the version where you only limit positive feedback and provide abundant amounts of the critical type. It's true that the feeling, "no matter what I do it's always wrong" can also tone down motivation nicely, but people are resourceful. Over time they will begin to interpret your occasional silence as praise, and the desired result is there.
Change assignments and priorities. Often.
You will get great results if you change assignments and priorities often. The later and therefore closer to the moment the employee is almost done, the more changes you make, thus deepening the frustration you achieve. It is also good to change priorities for challenging and long-term tasks. The degree of disappointment and decrease in motivation for further work is directly proportional to how much time and effort your subordinate has to waste on the change of assignment and priorities.
Just make sure people don't anticipate something like this coming in advance; then there’s a risk they’ll only do half the job. This is also a sign of motivation loss but if you truly want to be a virtuoso, when assigning tasks that you later cancel, pay enough attention to buy off and fire up your people. The contrast between the initial zeal and subsequent disappointment from unnecessary work will be even better.
Give responsibility but not competence.
It is said that people are extremely motivated by the powers and competences entrusted to them. That would prompt one to be fundamentally opposed to doing it. The opposite is true. The more responsibility you place on your people, the better. But beware! Under no circumstances should he have the competence to do so. By this we mean the necessary information, decision-making powers, knowledge, skills, experience or perhaps even your support. Don't even consider wanting to discuss how this can be achieved with people.
Prudently learn these sentences: “I don't care how you do it! I'm only interested in the results! ”The more limited their competencies, the more they are entrusted with the responsibility to erode and deplete their energy and motivation to go for it. If you are familiar with this tactic you can alternate it or even combine it with an absolutely vague assignment, one for which it is not at all clear what you want or what the result should be.
Give instructions. Flawless instructions.
Unfortunately, not all tasks and goals fall into the category of point number 3. There are simply some things that your people are able to do and can handle, even if you keep them in the darkest darkness. Don’t worry about it. We have a different solution for the tasks that come their way. On the contrary, you have to give your subordinates precise and detailed instructions on how and what to do. Make sure not to leave even the slightest space for one’s own ideas, initiative or invention. You can't allow anything like that; subordinates could still enjoy their work.
A popular formula can help you: "I'm not interested in your opinion, do it as I told you in the first place." And if by chance a subordinate looks a little contrite, add the sentence: "You’re not here to think, you’re here to do what I tell you." Marvelous. After this, you can be certain the subordinate will do the task with great reluctance. Just watch out for revolting opponents. Some subordinates may come back to you claiming that the way you suggested doesn't work and that they have a better course of action. In this case, we go back to the previous step and use (again) the sentence "You're not here to…" You know the drill. Or if you feel like it, you can explain to your subordinate that if they weren’t so incompetent, your procedure would work for them.
No outlook. No development.
Sometimes it is surprising how tenacious some people are. Even if you apply all the previous tips, you may meet individuals who continue to function anyway. They feed on the hope that one day it will pass (I will work it out, my superior will leave, I will move to another position) or accept the fact that it is only a temporary and necessary state – a sort of ‘swallowing the frog’ (while I am new to the company, until I show that I have more to offer). Nope, not at all.
From the beginning, you must weed out any development or hope of progress in your people. The better and sooner you can convince them that they have nothing else to do and will do this job all their lives, the sooner the turning point will come. Prison wardens and guards could tell you all about it. As long as a convict has hope of a retrial or a pardon, they’re trouble. Just make sure that your subordinate does not go elsewhere to realize his ambitions. The less you allow him to learn and the more you can stifle his self-confidence, the sooner he acquiesces, and eventually he will be glad to be able to work for you.
And lastly, the cherry on top - do you know what Stockholm Syndrome is? No? Doesn’t matter. Either google it or just take our word for it that despite everything, at least some of your people will love you as a boss!