The Art Of Trying To Destroy A Company

Earlier this month I met with several business acquaintances who had recently left a company that had undergone significant changes in management and strategic direction. In the process of the management changes, other employees in good standing had also left or been terminated, business had been lost and there were fears about the future of the company.

Consultants usually present guidelines for success in a straightforward manner. Taking a cue from Jay Haley’s classic “The Art of Being a Failure as a Therapist,” let’s consider the paradoxical approach. If you want to destroy your company:

  • Ignore the existing culture, whatever it maybe, and plow straight ahead while imposing your will. You are right, and hopefully everyone will get the point.
  • Refuse to acknowledge the concerns of employees who leave, whether they have been terminated or they are resigning. They are leaving and they no longer have anything to offer. Also, insist that existing employees refrain from talking with those who leave, and back this up with sanctions.
  • Label almost everyone who leaves a “problem employee,’ “not critical to our success,” or “not a team player.” Also, do not go out of the way to assist ex-employees with accessing their benefits or getting a new position, because it no longer makes any difference what they think. Besides, who are they going to talk to? Your competition? Your customers?
  • Ignore the complaints of vendors and other long-term partners about not honoring previous financial commitments. Negotiation is not necessary and verbal contracts need not be honored. You can always find new vendors, especially in a rough economy. Besides, who are they going to talk to?
  • Don’t talk about sensitive issues unless you have to, and use a minimalist approach to answering questions. If you hear complaints about not receiving answers to questions or not knowing who to talk to, be silent. The questioners will ultimately leave you alone.

Please understand that in following these guidelines you may not be successful. Some employees will rebel and may even go underground. They may even thwart your best efforts. However, most will leave and seek success somewhere else. Good riddance!