4 Morale-Killing Behaviors that are Alive and Well


I’ve been a student in one classroom or another for more years than I care to count and taken various professional development trainings throughout my career. I’ve worked in the private sector and the public sector. My experience is hardly unusual, so anyone with some schooling under his or her belt and a few years in the workforce has dealt with a variety of abrasive workplace behaviors. These behaviors can take a toll on organizations in a variety of ways. One such cost is reduced productivity. These are the top four productivity killing behaviors in my book.

4. The Multi-Tasking Taskmaster

I tried texting and having a conversation with my wife the other day. I got halfway through my text and realized I hadn’t the slightest idea what my wife was saying. Similarly, while checking Facebook and watching my one-year-old, I lost the article I was trying to read upon glancing up to my daughter dumping a whole can of Diet Coke out on the carpet. You might see some similar situations in sitcoms or standup. Really, it’s one of those funny-because-its-true things, isn’t it?

Can we just agree already that multitasking is a great way to screw up more than one thing at a time? If you don’t believe me, read The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, and let me know your stance on multitasking. The problem is this: The leader, likely concerned about his own image, is concerned that it won’t appear that enough is getting done. Fearing reprimand, the exacting taskmaster engages in a multitasking marathon, forcing everyone to get more done. So instead of the important things getting done right, morale and productivity take a back seat to mediocrity and mistakes.

3. Managerial Complex

This manager doesn’t know the first thing about a pat on the back or an “atta boy.” Nope. In order to validate his worth, this manager literally must provide negative feedback, regardless of how good a job is done. Well knock it off!

There’s nothing like a Negative Nancy to make people not want to do anything. After all, who wants to step up when someone is always ready with a put down? There’s nothing wrong with constructive criticism. But when it’s all critic and no construction, your people won’t produce for you. (Sidenote: Should this come as a surprise to the negative manager? According to some friends of mine, these bosses may not even realize the negative impact they’re having!)

2. Micro Manager

If this leader wants something done right, then he has to do it himself. Except he doesn’t do it himself. He just breathes down employees’ necks while they do it. Managing people is notoriously difficult. But holding people accountable for their performance is easier. Instead, what if there was a system in place that set performance standards. Thus, the manager doesn’t have to oversee each person doing each task and make it his way or the highway. The manager can simply refer to preset performance standards with a system of benchmarks. If there’s some quirks to one employee’s way of doing it versus another, that’s ok, as long as they’re hitting benchmarks and following the system.

1. Ever Changing Expectations

This is what I’ve termed the King of morale-killing behaviors. If you want to isolate your team members, kill morale, and drastically reduce satisfaction, then look no further.

What does this look like, in reality? Once, I had a teacher lay out how an assignment was supposed to be done. Drafts and conferences with the teacher revealed all positive feedback. Then, without warning, a lower grade on the assignment. What sort of message does that send, and who in their right mind would be motivated to perform after that?

Have you ever received feedback on a performance review, implemented the suggestions, then still get a poor review the following period? Do you remember thinking, “What’s the point?”

What behaviors have you seen that kill morale?

Brandon Grysko’s background includes labor negotiation, training, legal studies, and law enforcement. Contact Brandon with questions or for help developing dispute resolution strategies at (734)-956-0113 or Brandon@WDRstrategies.com



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s