Merge's Blog

The piss-off factor. How some managers do stupid things

Sometimes I just don’t GET it.  There are times that I really struggle to understand why some managers make bone-headed moves, why they do stupid things that accomplish nothing productive for the organization but instead piss their employees off!

A long-time reader of this blog called me the other day to tell me about a situation he recently observed in the company he works for.  A junior employee, let’s call her Samantha, has been working temporarily at another company location, helping to implement a new software system in the organization.  To save money, the company has a policy that employees are only allowed to return home once every two weeks, which means that Samantha must spend the in-between weekend away from home.  While she is not compensated for this weekend away from home, the company does cover her hotel, meals and other incidental expenses at the distant location.  You may question whether this is fair or not, but it is the arrangement that Samantha has agreed to, and she seemed satisfied with it … well, until just recently.  You see Samantha submitted her latest expense report to her manager in which she claimed just a little over $100 for dry cleaning and laundry for one two-week trip.  Soon after, her manager called her into his office to advise her that upon review by the management team, $100 seemed “excessive” for laundry, and that she needed to reduce her expenses in this area.

Are you kidding me???  This young woman is on the road for two weeks at a time wearing professional clothes such as suits and dresses.  Last time I checked, hotel laundry and dry cleaning doesn’t exactly come cheap!  Leaving that aside for a moment, this employee is giving up her weekends to stay in a far-away city so that the company can save money, and they are begrudging her a paltry $100 in laundry costs?  Needless to say, Samantha is upset.  It doesn’t help that it was also implied to her that perhaps she was bringing clothes from home to be cleaned through the hotel laundry system!  Bad enough that this company’s management has no sense of perspective but now they’re implying that she’s dishonest!  As a result, Samantha has vowed to just take more clothes with her.  “I’ll just take an extra bag with me now,” she said.  “And I’ll just put the extra baggage fee on my next expense statement.”

I am absolutely mind-boggled that this management team doesn’t GET it!  Let’s assume for a moment that Samantha is in fact bringing dirty clothes with her from home just so she can get them cleaned for free (which I don’t necessarily believe to be true but let’s make that assumption for a minute!).  Company management, where is your sense of perspective?  Your employee is spending a weekend away from home to save you money in airfare (which can be very expensive).  Is a trifling $100 a big enough deal for you to run the risk of de-motivating this employee?     Because this is exactly what you’ve done.  Unfortunately, I see this manoeuver frequently enough that I’ve given it a name: the piss-off factor!  The piss-off factor is what short-sighted and small-minded managers do to discourage and turn off their employees.

So what do you think?  Do you think management is right in this situation, or like me, do you think their actions are idiotic?  Please … I can’t wait to hear your opinion.


  • Managements actions are idiotic. I can also relate a rather interesting story. We often have to do business at a border city. The hotels on one side of the border are not as good on one side as the other. Management always stays on the good side and employees stay on the less expensive side. Talk about pissing off your employees.

  • I think she did nothing wrong by submitting $100.00 for dry cleaning. Gosh what the company is saving far outweighs what the dry cleaning is. I think they are lucky to have a good employee and should show appreciation not de-motivating this employee and making her feel unappreciated.

  • I am definitely showing this to my boss!
    I often take more than 5 hours waiting between flights just for the company can save money!
    The other day one of my executives submit a 80 dollars private taxi from the airport to her home. Before I went to the auditors, I took a moment to investigate. And all that was due to a bad decision!! This girl arrive from a business trip at 1am. If the administrator, had chosen an earlier flight, she wouldn’t take that special (and only) shuttle!! In saving cents,we are wasting dollars!

  • This is the kind of stuff that plants the seed of “maybe this company is not such a great company to work for after all…I’ll have a look at what’s out there if they’re going to nickel and dime me in return for giving up my weekends…hmmm”. I would have gladly paid the $100 and be done with it for an employee that would give up their weekends to save me $ is one that I can trust to make the right kind of decisions. Seriously…can you be any more petty?

  • Candice, your example reminds me of a very important leadership principle: walk the talk! Don’t ever ask your employees to do something that you’re not willing to do yourselves. How demoralizing for employees to see their managers staying in better hotels while they don’t!

  • Karen and Lissa, glad to know that I am not alone in my opinion of the management at this organization. The person who made me aware of this situation contacted me again last week to let me know of yet another stupid “piss-off factor” by these managers. I’m blogging about it in this Thursday’s (July 14) installment. Stay tuned!

  • Angelik, thanks for sharing your example. There is a phrase that I often use — “penny-wise but pound-foolish” — in trying to save pennies, they are wasting pounds … truly bad decision-making.


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