I know some, well-intentioned managers who are good people but have subconsciously developed the skill of demoralization. Their mere presence can take the air out of an enthusiastic group ready to act on a problem or implement a solution.
Why? I suspect there are many psychological causes that help create skilled demoralizer, but I practice psychology as an amateur due to the necessities of my job. Therefore I will not explore neurotic behavior. Though if I did, this would no-longer be a brief podcast, as we all have some neurotic tendencies me included.
How? How can a manager demoralize their people? I have many experiences, some that have developed into stories, witnessing demoralization as it happens and watching the results, watching good, caring employees give up, stop thinking, keep their ideas to themselves, begin to doubt their abilities, lose all trust of their manager, in short lose value to the business. This is People Waste and in my opinion worse then over-production.
Here are some demoralizing techniques I have witnessed over the years (remember, most of these managers are good, well-intended people).
Publically (in front of co-workers) demeaning an employee. Peers either feel bad about the manager or bad about the employee.
Always questioning judgment – the employee is always asked about decision and never fully empowered and accountable. If the employee is not trusted they are not empowered but probably still held accountable. Poor results, poor attitude.
Rejecting ideas – “no, that won’t work” is often another way of saying “not invented here”. The stream of ideas will dry up quickly.
Quit complaining – the causes for complaints not listened to typically have long lives. Complaints, if handled correctly, can be the first step in problem definition followed by a PDCA cycle.
Criticizing without thought for the criticized. No one want to make a mistake. If we only offer criticism without some positive statement about the persons worth, intelligence, skill or effort we lose that person as an ally. We need everybody everyday and this is counter to that purpose. Constructive criticism speaks to improvement or building, negative criticism speaks to destruction.
This subject will continue to be explored in future podcasts.