If you are one of the many managers trying to maximize effectiveness (while minimizing your chance of being replaced!), it is critical that you focus on the Employee Experience (EX). The EX is essentially the sum of perceptions of interactions (both positive and negative) an employee has with an organization and its members. The EX is a relatively new term that has created a shift in the way employee engagement is viewed. There aren’t too many books and articles on the subject, but DecisionWise provides a great deal of valuable information on the subject in their book, The Employee Experience: How to Attract Talent, Retain Top Performers, and Drive Results.
A positive EX greatly increases retention at any organization, so it is imperative that you moderate your employees’ experience within your organization in order to maximize the your effectiveness within your supervisory role. Having reviewed many 360-degree feedback reports, I can tell you that creating the “sweet spot” between impressing the person above you while, making sure the people below you want to respect and follow you can be tricky.
So, what are some of the “don’ts” that derail the employee experience? Unfortunately, we see far too many managers who deliver results, while leaving a wake of bodies throughout the organization. Are you one of these managers? Do you want to increase your odds of trampling on the engagement of your employees, while still trying to look good to the people up the organization chart? Well, here are five proven strategies to significantly cripple your employees’ experience within your organization—while still delivering results.
1. Over-Glamorize the Job Description
First, it is still important that you attract good employees to your organization, you just don’t want them to stay for too long. The best place to start is to create the illusion of “the perfect job.” Take a look at what your current job description includes and remove any negative or boring details. Emphasize the autonomy the role provides…and the competitive pay that goes along with it. Appeal to the reader’s emotion by talking about how meaningful the job is and how it makes a difference in people’s lives. Be liberal in your optimism about the role. If you are struggling to find ideas, feel free to include small benefits, such as “Free Lunch Every Friday” without noting that the lunch provided will be remaining leftovers in the breakroom fridge.
2. Put on the Right “Face”
Once the contracts have been signed and the employee is in their new role, it is important to hide the true culture of your company by suppressing/ignoring the bad parts of the culture and emphasizing the good. You can do this by discouraging negative talk around the office, using the tactics of fear and intimidation. Find a way to punish behavior that is not “team-oriented,” which is severe enough to get attention, but not so bad that it causes a lawsuit. You will also need a way to monitor what employees are saying around the office. Many managers monitor employee emails, but you can also listen in on conversations by inviting yourself to lunch outings and regulating the use of phones while working. These measures can increase the chances that your new hire will stay committed to his/her role long enough that it would be a burden to leave. Employee intimidation is one of the most effective strategies to demand compliance and avoid having to explain your decisions.
3. Frequently Adjust Policies and Procedures Without Notice
Now that your new hire is somewhat invested in his/her role, you can begin to remove the bells and whistles (thus saving you even more time and money). Send out a vague, but “important” email to the entire company requesting compliance with a new policy that will “increase the organization’s efficiency.” These emails can contain anything from making the dress code more formal to adding an additional weekly meeting to everyone’s schedules. The point is to find a way to complicate a process, so that when employees questions it, you can tell them that they just wouldn’t understand the strategy of the adjustment because of their pay-grade.
4. Change the Pay and Benefit Structure
Another great way to create a negative EX is by re-negotiating pay and benefits. This method usually gets quick attention from employees. You need to be careful how you go about this because if you change it too much, employees will leave or go on strike, but if you don’t change it enough, employees might be unaffected by the change. Some common things you can do are decrease bonuses, not grant additional PTO days for longer tenure, or give a promotion without a raise. Use your discretion for how much money you can take away from each employee while keeping them with your organization. Some employees won’t be as responsive to change in pay or benefits (see below for additional details).
5. NEVER Recognize Employees for Good Work
Lastly, it is important to note that some employees value recognition even more than money. Some of your employees might not seem as affected by the decrease in pay, so if you notice something like this happening, take extra measures to find out what is giving them hope and enjoyment in their jobs. Oftentimes, they are receiving recognition or praise for their work, either from peers or another manager. If you find out who is responsible for handing out the praise, fire them immediately. It is best if you can fire them publicly, even in front of the person they were praising. This will send a message to other employees that it is not acceptable to openly praise anyone but upper-level management.
Although these strategies are effective to different degrees, the only way to accurately measure their effectiveness is through a survey, specifically, an employee engagement survey. Periodically (at least annually) conduct an Engagement Survey to monitor your progress and find any areas which need attention (It’s always helpful to conduct a survey… and do nothing about the feedback). Adapt your strategies as needed to effectively bend your direct reports to your will. Creating a bad EX is not easy (although it is easier than the alternative), but with these strategies, you can carefully moderate your team’s performance to impress your supervisor, while also ensuring that your top-performers don’t stay around long enough to replace you.