How To REALLY Demotivate Your (Freelance) Staff

Some managers have the knack of seriously demotivating their staff right from the start of their careers. And for some, it takes a little time and practice. Here are some handy hints on how to completely frustrate and discourage any staff member who comes under your influence or control.

You will remember that I’ve talked about the resources that all managers have for getting things done. Well of course your staff members need these resources too – so if you really want to mess things up for them, just deprive them of the resources necessary to do their jobs.

Let’s see how you can almost effortlessly bring this about, for each of the following resource types:

  • Information
  • Materials
  • Money
  • People
  • Processes
  • Techniques
  • Time
  • Tools


Knowledge is power. Make sure that you deprive your staff of any useful information. Or better still, spread dis-information – stuff that looks like the real thing but on closer examination is of no use to anybody, is totally misleading and lets your staff run round in endless circles.

In particular, new staff members and especially freelancers must be kept in the dark for as long as possible. Under no circumstances must you train or educate them in any way. At the same time, demand twice as much from freelancers as you would expect from your long-standing employees.


Your team members need stationery? Ensure that this is securely locked up at all times and that staff must obtain permission from your fire-breathing PA for every pencil. The PA will insist on the staff member filling out a form in triplicate for every item requested. There will be no explanation of how to fill in this long, complicated form. And of course, the form must be signed by three managers, two of whom are permanently away on (golf) courses and the like.

Better still, get the unsuspecting new staff member to make the stationery request of the MD’s PA – without access to any organisational chart, so that the newbie has no idea who they are approaching with their request.


Your staff should be overjoyed to have the opportunity to work for you – so why would they expect to be paid? Remember that it’s your budget that gets hit! Procrastinate for as long as possible on signing anything off – and timesheets in particular. This can be really useful in recessionary times, when staff may be worried about losing their homes, defaulting on loan payments and so on. They should not have borrowed beyond their means in the first place, should they!

We’ve covered funding for training and education already. Only the most important people, the managers, should get any funding for training.


Forbid your staff to talk with anyone else – especially those who might help them in their work. Ensure that all staff, but particularly new staff, are not aware of team meetings – when, where, how to get there and so on. Better still, make a point of not inviting certain team members to important meetings, but hold the meeting in full view of the excluded staff. Then insist that these staff know all about the meeting’s contents, so why are they wasting time by asking questions?


Deny the existence of any process. Or continually break the process by insisting that staff do it another way. Then blame them when senior management find out.


As far as possible, keep all methods and techniques of working to yourself. After all, you don’t want your staff showing you up, do you?!


Just remember the mantra: “it’s a five-minute job!” Berate your staff continually if they take a moment longer. It goes without saying that your time is far more important than any staff member’s. Always make it clear that you have no time to talk to subordinates. Make sure they get the message by chatting at length with members of the opposite sex who you would love to err… get to know.


Ensure that new members of staff have to wait at least a month, preferably longer, to get a working pc, a desk, a chair, the software they need, access to essential systems, and so on.

In particular, ensure that anybody who might be described as a ‘knowledge worker’ does NOT have access to the internet. See the Information section above.

Also, ensure that access to any ‘help’ desk is a difficult as possible. A well-trained ‘help’ desk professional will always close support calls with alacrity, while offering very little real assistance. So management can show a truly amazing number of ‘resolved’ calls.

Naturally, none of the above observations is based on real-life situations or anything that I might have experienced personally.

What management blunders have you had to suffer? Share your thoughts by commenting here.

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