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4 Steps to Make Employees Miserable

4 Steps to Make Employees Miserable

There is a great deal of misery in the workplace. It is very sad that free citizens of the United States are cooped up in jobs where misery rains down from on high almost every day. We need to get a handle on this or our competitiveness in the world is going to plummet like the morale at American Airlines.

What if?

If we could eliminate employee misery in the workplace, businesses would see substantial improvements in their profitability.

It’s a leadership problem

In most cases, it’s not the employee – it is leaders – who screws things up. Sadly, in most cases it is management who prevents people from being productive at work and robs them of their on-the-job satisfaction. Below are three signs of management malpractice.

Sign #1 – Creating roadblocks to productivity

Sign #2 – Smothering employees with conflicting directions and goals

Sign #3 – Trapping people inside a virtual cage, preventing important learning and interaction with employees and customers

A recipe for employee misery

In their article, “How to completely, utterly destroy an employee’s work life,” The Washington Post performed research from over 200 professionals across seven companies for several months.  According to co-authors Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, “we collected confidential electronic diaries from 238 professionals in seven companies, each day for several months. All told, those diaries described nearly 12,000 days – how people felt, and the events that stood out in their minds. Systematically analyzing those diaries, we compared the events occurring on the best days with those on the worst.”

They discovered if you can prevent an employee from making progress on the job, you will make them miserable. Based upon their research, they developed the necessary steps to make employees miserable.

4 steps to make employees miserable

Step #1 – Never allow pride of accomplishment

Step #2 – Miss no opportunity to block progress on employees’ projects

Step #3 – Give yourself some credit (when you’ve developed your morale destroying skills)

Step #4 – Kill the messengers


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Kevin Kennemer is founder of The People Group based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Kevin is driven by his passion for company owners and their need to earn a profit, employees' desire for a positive and fulfilling work experience, and the community that benefits when both groups do well.


  1. Travis F. Bailey 6 years ago

    If your boss has it in for you, there’s a good chance that your colleagues are feeling it, too – and reacting to the negative energy in turn. A new study suggests that bullying bosses affect not just the victim of their angst, but the victim’s coworkers as well, making life miserable for an entire group of colleagues. This phenomenon, which the authors dub “second hand” bullying or “vicarious abusive supervision,” may also have an unintended impact on the company as well, since it can seriously affect employees’ morale and opinion of the company as a whole.

  2. Author
    Kevin Kennemer 6 years ago

    Travis, you are right in saying “there’s a good chance that your colleagues are feeling it, too” in regards to a workplace bully terrorizing one person. Bullying has been referred to as psychological abuse. Any type of abuse impacts the target as well as those who work or live around that unfortunate person. We need more coworkers to stand up in numbers to put a stop to the workplace bully. These abusers do not like to be confronted in large numbers.

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