Improving Morale with Beatings

MoraleAnother update from the Jungle….

Don started his tech company in the depths of the financial meltdown a few years ago. After years of struggling, he expanded his client base to the point that he now has employees instead of subbing out the work to independent contractors.

Don ought to feel happy, but he’s not.  His employees make him unhappy. He hired millennials expecting them to be energetic and creative and to keep his company on the cutting edge of technology.  Instead, they infuriate him with their attitude.

Greg and Sam blew a deadline because they went bar-hopping with college friends.  They had not wanted to work on the project but they were next up on the rotation for assignments. So Don ignored their lack of enthusiasm and told them to get busy.  Their final work product was so crappy that Don agreed not to charge the client.

Don was so angry he decided to take away a few perks. He folded up the ping pong table and shoved it inStartup, Business, People, Students the storeroom. Then he ordered Greg and Sam to report to the office every day so that he could keep a closer eye on them. Now they sulk at their desks, doing as little as possible, while surfing the web for other job opportunities.

Don is also annoyed with Beth. Beth wants to work on a fundraising campaign for her favorite non-profit (humane housing for pot-bellied pigs that have outgrown their cuteness) rather than working on client projects. Don likes bacon and ham and doesn’t see any point in coddling a former pet piggy. Besides, he hired Beth to work for his clients; not her favorite charity. He said no.

Morale is so low that even the free-beer-on-Friday promise hasn’t improved the general malaise afflicting the office.  It’s Friday evening. Don’s sitting at home drinking the single malt scotch he reserves for special occasions and wondering what he should do on Monday morning.

What options are available to Don?

  1. He can take away all the perks, including free beer, and enforce more discipline until employees crank out quality work and morale improves.
  2. He can fire his current employees and start over with a new batch of employees who accept his way of doing things.
  3. He can allow his employees more freedom to choose their assignments and set their own schedules as long as they meet project deadlines and submit quality work.

This story is a composite of several actual situations in which the small business owners still believed in face time and didn’t recognize that the newer generation of employees desire autonomy. No one likes to be micro managed, however, a worker still needs to serve the person who has employed them. They still need to earn their paycheck. The difficulty is always in finding a good balance.


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