How To Demotivate Your Employees: 4 Short Stories

January 27, 2015

In Employee Engagement

Motivated, demotivated. It’s a beat that sounds like: “I’m happy, I’m sad”, “day, night”, “Monday 8AM, Friday 5PM”… Let’s admit it, motivation is not a constant state of being. It exists because demotivation exists (note that Descartes tried to prove God’s existence with a similar logic. But this is another topic).
So, how do we demotivate employees? We have 4 short stories to illustrate the answer to that question:


Vincent has been working at the sales department of a private company for a little more than six months. Still full of energy and willingness, he decided to take an initiative! It worked out and got an important client. Proud of this accomplishment, he announced the good news to his immediate superior who congratulated him. His superior then had a meeting with the big boss. He took Vincent’s credits.


Marie has 10 years of experience as an administrative assistant at a university. She is really appreciated by the students and knows her job really well. Fully committed to her career, everyone notices the quality of every project she delivers. She works long hours, offers reliable advices to her students and meets every deadline. Her manager comes to see her one day to tell her that from now on, she must fill time sheets and keeps him informed of everything that she does when he is not around.


Diane is the only graphic designer of a nonprofit organization. Her immediate superior, Andy never comes to see her, unless there is an emergency. Every time, he tells her the same thing: “I have something to ask you, it will only take 5 minutes”.


Vincent (yes, that same one!) is highly motivated and decides to take a new initiative. But this time, it’s a disaster and he loses a client. His superior rebukes him and and even reminds him his mistake at his evaluation.


Vincent never takes any more initiatives. For him, it means giving credits to someone else and being reprimanded. “To play safe” is his new year’s resolution for 2015.

Marie never works extra hours again and settles for doing the minimum for which she is paid.

Diane ends up telling her superior “you don’t know how long it’s going to take me, stop trying to estimate the time required”… and offers her resignation.

Those demotivation stories might remind you of a situation you already encountered. Those stories remind of what we can lose if we don’t give enough freedom or room for innovation, and when we don’t recognize the people behind an organization.

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