How to Lose Friends and Alienate Employees

how to lose friends and alienate employees

Let’s get real. All that Dale Carnegie stuff is nonsense.

What we really need to talk about is how we can lose friends and alienate teammates. The reason I say this is because not only is all this “humanizing workplaces” stuff getting out of hand, but many companies still maintain structures and cultures that create contexts within which the conditions are ripe for terrible team dynamics, unclear organizational identity, and unhealthy, mechanistic environments.

So maybe the tack we should take is rather than fighting it, let’s embrace it. Let’s dig in and figure out how we, as leaders and professionals of all sorts, can lose friends and alienate employees.

1. Lose friends and alienate employees by dehumanizing them.

Dehumanization, in my estimation, is an underutilized weapon in the organizational arsenal. Employed well, it can effectively help professionals of all sorts lose friends and alienate teammates. The gist of this involves two things. You’ve got to chip away at two basic elements: identity and community.

To lose friends & alienate employees, dehumanize them. #leadership #companyculture Click To Tweet

Dehumanize employees by minimizing their identity.

When you figure out ways to minimize or ignore another’s identity, you’re making it so they don’t feel recognized as an individual person who is identifiable as unique from others, independent, autonomous, and so on.

Dehumanize employees by minimizing their sense of community.

To really hack away at the community piece of someone’s humanness, you need to somehow remove their sense of belonging to a connected group of individuals who share common interests and care about each other.

When you can get at both of those — when you can make someone feel like they’re losing their sense of self and losing their sense of belonging — you’re well on your way to dehumanizing them. This, of course, is great.

People are dehumanized when they lose their sense of identity & community. #companyculture Click To Tweet

2. Lose friends and alienate employees by not including them in anything meaningful regarding the direction of the team and/or organization.

You really don’t want folks to start feeling like they’re a part of something. One of the many ways you can prevent this is to not include them in any meaningful discussion about what they think about the organization and its future. That way, they’ll know you don’t value their opinion. They’ll also know you’re way smarter than they are, and consequently don’t need or want their input.

To alienate employees, don't include them in anything important. #leadership #companyculture Click To Tweet

3. Lose friends and alienate employees by sending out employee satisfaction surveys.

And then do nothing.

You did the right thing by using a survey, especially if you’re using a survey so that you don’t have to actually engage the humans in personal ways. But it’s important that when using a survey, you not — I repeat, not — use the data you collect in any way. That will send a clear message that while you’re willing to go through the motions of “employee engagement,” you’re not actually wanting to engage them.

To alienate employees, send out surveys & then don't act. #leadership #companyculture Click To Tweet

4. Lose friends and alienate employees by hiring and/or retaining terrible leaders and managers, especially if they’re executives or the CEO.

This is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve got. Very few things can match this in terms of the devastating effects bad leadership can have on teams and organizations. So be sure that you’ve got just the worst managers you can find. And if by some stroke of luck you struck the mother lode and have some Machiavellian CEO, then kudos, you’ll be losing and alienating execs and others in no time flat.

To lose friends & alienate employees, hire/keep terrible leaders. #leadership #companyculture Click To Tweet

5. Lose friends and alienate employees by building a tattle-tale culture.

This could fit under the larger treat-employees-like-children umbrella, but we’ll give it its own standalone section. Instead of treating employees like adult humans who are capable of building real trust by learning to be vulnerable, teach and reinforce that the best thing to do when they see or experience something they don’t like is to run to their manager and tell the manager. That way, instead of the two teammates learning to talk to each other like adult humans who care about each other and the team; the manager can handle it, much like an elementary school teacher would.

That’s only five ways to lose friends and alienate employees. There are tons and tons more. What would you add to the list? Leave them in the comments below! 

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