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6 Ways to Stop Your Employees from Being Too Engaged

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Talking about employee engagement: Isn’t it annoying when your direct reports keep coming up with ideas of how to improve things and just can’t stop finding details that don’t work well in your processes? If you are a good manager, this is the moment where you say: “No, it isn’t.” 

However, in order to gain new insights, it can be useful at times to switch perspectives and imagine that you don’t like proactive employees. How could you make them fall in line and do their chores without ever proposing ideas or showing initiative?


Here is a set of six tips that will help you kill employee engagement for good:


1. Keep everything exactly the way it has always been

If people come to you with ideas of how something could work even better, be careful: You never know if changing a reliable aspect of your work doesn’t make it worse instead of better. It’s always advisable to play it safe and trust what you know works. Why risk failure?


2. Maintain a clear hierarchy structure

A system in which people know exactly what their duties and responsibilities are is the best way to ensure high efficiency. Some people are best suited to make decisions, others have their strengths on an executional level and are quite happy they aren’t responsible for anything. Don’t blur the borders of those roles – it will only lead to disruption and disorder.


3. Reward success and punish failure

It is very easy to motivate staff if you follow the traditional rules of shaping behavior: Simply reward those who follow the rules and achieve the expected results – and punish those who don’t. Nowadays it’s easy to get distracted by self-proclaimed experts who say that mistakes are important for innovation and similar nonsense. Don’t listen to those people.
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4. Expect gratitude

Employees get regular wages, days off, social security – it is only fair that you expect them to be grateful. You don’t have to put up with people complaining about how you run your company, after all it’s up to you how things are run. And if some people think they’re being treated unfairly, discriminated against, or that their workload is too high? Well, then they are probably not a good fit anyways. Just keep the high performers and let complainers go.


5. When negative incidents occur, find out who is responsible

When a project fails, when you lose an important customer, or when you suffer any other setback, it is important that you concentrate your efforts on finding the individual who messed it up. Once you have done that, you can punish them and move on. It’s the best way to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen again. Resist the temptation to evaluate the specific situation, influencing factors, possible hidden causes etc. It will very likely lead to a more complex and confusing picture – which will be so much harder to deal with.


6. Don’t let people fool you

When you read about the “modern workplace” on the internet, it sometimes feels as if the relationship between employer and employee has become a private relationship: People promote trust instead of control. Trust-based working times, open budgets… You know better than that: If people have the opportunity to cheat, they will cheat. You are a manager, not a hippie. Establish strict regulations and implement control measures that ensure those regulations are being adhered to.


Here is the solution

Now, you knew from the beginning that the above rules describe what you shouldn’t do because they stifle employee engagement – but be honest: Weren’t you inclined to agree with a couple of points? Some of the statement did sound rather convincing, don’t you think? Go back to the aspects that made you stop and think. They may be worth investigating – it’s possible that you’ve inadvertently found the areas your company needs to work on in order to create an even better environment for employee engagement.


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