Today we’re going to dive into useful techniques that can help you to destroy your entire team quickly and efficiently. We’ll explore some effective measures to ensure that your healthy team turns into a bunch of disillusioned and scared people in no time. Ready? Here we go.
The Three Pillars of Healthy Teams
But before we look at these techniques in detail, we must remember that there are three pillars on which healthy teams are built. These pillars are trust, motivation and psychological safety. They are the cornerstones that a lead will specifically try to strengthen because they are the foundation of stable, autonomous and motivated teams.
Trust and psychological safety go hand in hand. Trust and psychological safety go hand in hand. Anyone who builds a trusting relationship with their employees (and with each other), creates an environment in which people feel safe. Such an environment is the basis for a positive error culture to develop, which is the foundation for effective further development.
If the team is additionally motivated by an inspiring task and vision, you have created the basis for healthy and high-performing teams that can develop independently.
To destroy your team, we need to bring down these three cornerstones. And which techniques are most suitable for this, we will look at below.
Keep them at an emotional distance
Let’s start with tip number 1: Keep your employees at an emotional distance.
Emotional closeness carries the risk that employees will build up trust in you, and we don’t want that at all. Because, as we said above, trust creates security and ensures that the team can deal openly with problems and thus emerge from conflicts stronger. So, don’t let them get too close.
Remember that kindness makes you human. It’s not only important that you don’t let the individual employee get to you, but that you distance yourself from your entire team.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to connect with your co-workers, for example by taking them out to lunch. Avoid talking about topics outside of work at spontaneous occasions such as coffee talks. Don’t even know your employees’ birthdays. If it does happen, forget the date as soon as possible. Under no circumstances should you congratulate them.
If an interesting discussion about architectural topics arises spontaneously in the team area, don’t stand there and participate (at eye level) in the conversation. Unless, of course, you want to intervene to dictate the outcome or tell your co-workers to keep their voices down.
All of this could create the feeling that the lead does not have a special position in the team, but is just an (almost) normal employee with other responsibilities. This in turn would promote psychological security.
You must avoid all of this at all costs. Put on your poker face as soon as you get close to your co-workers. Don’t smile and don’t show any emotions, this could make you sympathetic and tempt your team to invite you to the next spontaneous after-work beer.
And did someone just make a joke? Don’t laugh. They might see you as part of their group. Just raise an eyebrow and give the prankster a frosty look – or ignore them completely. Separate yourself from the group!
To create even more distance between you and the team, it is helpful to be as unavailable as possible. The cafeteria, which smells of cappuccino, is therefore a much better place to work than the team area.
In the best case, you become completely invisible to your team. It’s best to deactivate the “online” display in the team chat. And if one of your co-workers comes up to you and asks, “Hey, do you have a few minutes?“, your answer should be:, “Sure … I have some free time … next week Friday“. And then, of course, you reschedule this appointment – several times.
The problem with availability is that it creates trust. If your employees think that they can come to you immediately with their big and small problems and that you will then support them with advice and coaching, then they feel safe because they sense that they are not being left alone and that there is a helping hand to support them in the face of challenges. This allows them to be braver to try their own ways and also allows them to focus fully on their work when they know that someone has their back for site topicals.
So let it be!
Your way or the highway
“What if instead of looking at solution A, we also looked at solution B again? Maybe it will help us to be sure that we have looked at everything? Emma, you’ve been so quiet today. What do you think about this?”.
Well, how does that sound to you? Probably like someone who wants to include everyone’s opinion, because they know that a team can only work in a motivated way if they support the decision for a topic.
Of course, this works best when everyone in the group has contributed to the proposed solution and has been able to weigh in. In the worst case, this leads to the employees feeling valued and becoming more confident in their dealings with other colleagues – the atmosphere of trust is strengthened.
And that’s not what we want. So it’s logical to say,:”We’ll do solution B. No discussion!”
When it comes to team decisions, it should be clear that there is only one person who sets the rules: And that is you!
You are the boss and there is a good reason for that. That’s why you call the shots. If your employees don’t like it: You don’t care … and goodbye.
Solutions over problem statements
And speaking of tasks: Another nice way to demotivate your employees is to always give them concrete solution suggestions as work instructions instead of talking to them about the actual problem to be solved.
Exactly this participation in finding a solution could lead to the employee feeling valued. And just imagine if your team suddenly came up with a much simpler solution than the one you outlined. That would undermine your authority.
So you have to make sure that doesn’t happen. For example, you could command to introduce the new testing framework – the one everyone is talking about at the moment – to the department. Whether you even have problems in the department that can be addressed with this software, or, whether there are better approaches, you just ignore.
Under no circumstances should you let them participate in the decision-making process by explaining to them what problem you actually intend to solve. Then they might suddenly feel involved and valued when they are allowed to contribute their own opinion and creativity. That would be fatal, because appreciation creates security.
At first, it may seem strange and unnatural not to let your employee participate. But be sure to fight the impulse to ask them for their opinion, because by giving them direct work tasks, you give them the feeling that they are just your tools to implement your ideas.
This effectively prevents your employees from feeling involved and creates frustration in the long run.
Change your mind as often as possible.
And once you’ve got the team to understand that you’re the boss, you ignite the next stage: Change your mind as often as possible!
This creates confusion and uncertainty in the team. It also destroys motivation. Because the passion with which your employees throw themselves into a topic quickly turns into frustration when they have to make a 180-degree turn the next day.
Sure, if the team is well attuned and has trust in the supervisor, then such a change of plans can be plausibly explained and the team inspired to tackle the new change as well. But after the third time at the latest, the first doubts will surface. From this point on, it is very important not to let up. Keep changing your mind happily. Do not give them a clear direction!
However, this method is meant for the long term. To get quick results in the short term, you need to shift up a gear.
Teams break apart particularly easily when an environment of insecurity is created. Mean jokes, derogatory comments, targeted humiliation are the means of choice here. Of course, you have to stay within the bounds of what is legal and not overdo it too obviously. Otherwise, however, there is no limit to your imagination. The goal here is to use the power of your position to make the employees feel uncomfortable.
But remember: one at a time. Play them off against each other. Never mob the whole group at once, or they might turn against you.
Yell at them!
Now let’s move on to a technique that you don’t come across too often in practice anymore, but which is super efficient in destroying the psychological security in the team: Just yell at them!.
Let’s imagine that one of your employees has made a small mistake. Nothing really big, but also enough that it was noticeable. This is exactly where you come in.
Instead of making it clear that mistakes can happen and creating a culture where mishaps are seen as positive, you grab your employee, escort them to the next meeting room, close the door … and yell at them. Let it all out, you’re only human after all.
Make sure the employee leaves the meeting feeling guilty and highly insecure.
Make sure they are scared of you!
Because your goal is to make your employees afraid of you. The next time something goes wrong, they still have to remember your angry face and better try to hide the next mistake from them. Where leadership advocates talk about positive failure culture, you simply turn the tables.
Negative error culture is your credo. And instead of “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn”, it goes: “You better don’t disappoint me!”
The really great thing about this tip is that it can be efficiently combined with the next one.
And this tip is: never apologize. Whatever happened, it wasn’t your fault.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean that“, “It was really wrong what I did and I want to apologize“, “My mistake. Will not happen again”- Cross all of that out of your vocabulary!
Show no weakness! Because this would make you human and authentic in the eyes of your employees. And that in turn leads to a trusting relationship with them. And that’s exactly what we don’t want.
Don’t support them
And among the many things for which you are not unapologetic is, of course, that you take no responsibility for her development or support. After all, you are their boss and not their parent.
If they need support, they can turn to their colleagues. Nor are you responsible for helping them develop in their careers. If they want to develop, they should buy a book or listen to a podcast! None of this is your business.
Iit should be clear that you are not the go-to person in the team.
Promise everything to make them happy.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t promise everything they want to hear –
Promotion, salary increase, company car, even home office in the Bahamas. Promise them everything and then … don’t deliver.
Be aware that broken promises is one of the most effective ways to lose people’s trust. And that’s what you’re all about.
And finally, if your employees fear you, sweep every mistake under the rug for fear of your tantrums, and work overtime to make sure the project is finished on time (because that’s when the promised reward comes), then you don’t have to do anything more than just give them more work to do.
Let them burn out. If you want to destroy a healthy team, then focus on the mental health of your employees, among other things. If you destroy them, you destroy the rest pretty easily.
So make sure there is a permanent overload in the team.
So, that should be enough tips and ideas to destroy your team quickly and efficiently. You can of course change the order and play with the intensity. Maybe you can even think of another nasty trick. Just try it out, just as you like it.
In this sense: All the best for destroying your teams. Good luck!