11 Ways To Make Work Suck

11. Be thankful you have a job

Love this one, because it's super motivating and also…a veiled threat!

10. Giving orders to the minions

The days of top-down, military style management where the managers bark out orders to the workers is long gone. Or is it? There are still plenty of industries that operate this way, using micromanagement and threats to get employees in line. To these leaders, an intrinsically motivated and highly productive workforce seems idealistic and naive.

9. Criticize and abuse

Your employees don't need encouragement. No one likes to be praised or told they're good at what they do. Just keep pointing out the mistakes, making people feel bad about their work, and offering no support or constructive feedback. That'll do the trick!

8. Blaming your lazy employees for not being motivated

Maybe you think your employees are useless. You try so hard to motivate them and nothing works - they're just lazy, lazy employees! And those millennials with their entitlement ways and horrible work ethic.

7. Financial incentives

Financial motivation can be both a good and a bad employee motivation technique. It all depends on the approach.

Most companies are disappointed in the results they get from their incentive plans because they use them in one or more of the following ways:

  • "Carrot and Stick" approach to motivation

  • Means of changing behavior

  • Getting people to do things they don't want to do

  • Motivating people to "do the right thing"

6. The Peter Principle

The Peter Principle is commonly phrased, "Employees tend to rise to their level of incompetence." Does your company suffer from this phenomenon?

Promoting employees up the ladder is a well-known employee motivation theory. But, not everyone is cut out to be a manager! Managing is hard...but doesn't have to be if you're focused on the right things. You know, results.

5. Overtime

No matter how much overtime you pay your employees, eventually your tired workforce will get burned out and become completely unmotivated. Expecting your employees to work insane hours, not take vacations, and deal with constant stress is a recipe for poor production and high turnover.

4. Bad goals and annual reviews

Employees are not motivated by the notion that their hard work will make company owners and executives rich, organizational change consultant Paul Levesque writes on Entrepreneur. Are your employees aligned around an ultimate outcome or goal that makes them feel proud to work at your company? When individual goals, management goals, and company goals are not in alignment, you'll see groups and individuals working against each other. Couple bad goals with rewarding effort vs. outcomes for a truly demotivating good time.

3. Convoluted mission statements

These should be relatable, easy to recall, and inspire people to rally around them.

2. Flexibility and other gimmicks

Or as we like to say, "Flexibility is the new F word." No matter which way you slice it, flexible work programs fail. Why is that? Because managers hate "managing flexibility" (oxymoron!) and employees are wary of when, how, and if they should even use flexibility options.

Our take is quite simple: programs focused on flexibility will always, always fail because they aren't focused on results. 

1. Ignoring intrinsic motivation

All of the above to say this...if you find yourself banging your head against the wall with employee motivation programs, gimmicks, rewards, incentives, perks, benefits, raises, promotions, all without success, then maybe you're ignoring the basics. Those of you who have read Drive by Daniel Pink are aware of his endorsement of Results-Only Work Environment. In this TED Talk, Pink talks in detail about what actually motivates us and how most businesses don't act in accordance with what the science tells us about intrinsic motivation.