How to Make Employees Fail

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Employee Johnny is building a brand-new mousetrap.

  • It's been an arduous two weeks in-the-making.
  • You've seen stagnant progress.
  • You doubt you'll see profitable customers.
  • Johnny's tirelessly building something that doesn't want to stay up.

What should you do?

  • Option A: "Hey, you can still do it. You've almost built the perfect mousetrap!"
  • Option B: "You've worked on a sucky project. Let's do something else!"

Did-your-sex-ay-boo-tay choose Option B?

Well, if you did, you are correct.

Praising Unpromising Work Drives People to Fail More

When you prop up Johnny's work for the last two stagnant weeks -- thinking all he needs is a little motivation to succeed -- YAY! -- what happens?

  1. He'll continue to disappoint you with more sucky work.
  2. He'll consume more resources to fruitlessly try make his project a success.

Money: down the tubes.

Oh no.

Say NO! to Motivational Guru Talk

The motivational gurus will probably tell Johnny:

  1. "Hey! You can succeed if you believe in yourself! Yay!"
  2. "You must think happy thoughts to make what your dream a reality! OH YEAH!"

But, if you notice employees making stagnant progress on their work, your motivation will just drive them to suck more.

By praising the shoddy work, you're actually reaffirming the sweetness of the work to the employees -- according to Kellogg (Northwestern U.) and London Business School researchers studying the effects of self-esteem:

The more that people’s feelings of self-worth are wrapped up in a poor decision they’ve made, the greater their impulse will be to justify it in some way.

"Let's do better stuff!"

Instead of keeping employees on a path to destruction, encourage them to recommit to more promising stuff.

What happens as a result?

Some benefits:

  1. You'll stop your company's bleeding.
  2. You'll boost employee morale.
  3. You'll make your bottom line much more attractive.

Win for all.

Trash ugly employee work like it's a two-headed stepchild who can't sing.

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Posted on April 30

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