How to Lose Your Star Employee in 30 Days

Roshan Nair
Published on 
May 16, 2023
Losing stellar employees is an art, not a science. It takes skill, dedication, and a complete disregard for basic human decency. With these tips, you'll be well on your way to creating a workplace so toxic it’ll make Chernobyl look like a petting zoo.

Congratulations, you've done it!

You've managed to hire the perfect employee. They're smart, hardworking, ready to learn, and eager to please. But let's face it, managing someone who's always on their A-game can be a real drag.

The relentless drive, constant improvement, high ambitions, and neediness for recognition and growth can sometimes be too much. Fear not, we've got you covered. We'll show you the best ways to help them transition from a high-performing superstar employee to an average, mediocre employee—or even better, an ex-employee.

1. Provide valuable feedback…right when it's no longer relevant

You know what they say—feedback is a gift. And gifts are best given when they’re least expected. That’s why the best way to ensure that your employee is caught off guard is to provide feedback when it's no longer relevant.

Did they submit a report a month ago that was missing a few crucial details? Tell them now, after they've already moved on to bigger and better things. Did they make a small error on a project a few weeks back? Trust us, nothing says 'I care about your development' like waiting to bring it up during their end-of-year performance review.

They’ll never know when it’s gonna come or what it’s going to be like. A gentle nudge in the right direction, or a harsh rebuke that will leave them questioning their entire career? The thrill of not knowing what's coming next is sure to keep them feeling anxious and overwhelmed.

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2. Clarify goals and OKRs…two weeks before the end of the quarter

They'll be thrilled to learn that they've been working towards something they’re not being evaluated against. The best part? You get to blame them for not reading your mind, even though you never clearly communicated their goals and objectives.

Even better, constantly change your expectations. They’ll have a blast trying to keep up with your ever-shifting standards, never quite sure what it takes to please you. Take them on a rollercoaster of emotions that will leave them confused and absolutely frustrated.

If you're feeling particularly devious, try setting goals that are completely unrealistic and unachievable. They'll spend the entire quarter working like a horse only to be reprimanded for being too incompetent to make the expected impact. It's the perfect way to demoralize your star employee and ensure that they never reach their full potential.

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3. Encourage open communication…as long as they agree with you

One of the key ingredients of a great workplace culture is open communication—or at least that's what every HR professional will tell you. But let's be real, who wants to work in an environment where they feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and ideas without fear of retribution? 

Make it clear that your employees should only speak up when they're saying something you agree with. Anything else is just noise. That way, you can avoid unpleasant surprises and keep the conversation firmly within your comfort zone.

Who needs a diverse and inclusive workplace when you can have a workplace that's just like you? It's like having your own little echo chamber where you can hear your own ideas bouncing back at you, loud and clear.

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4. Acknowledge them as human beings…right in time for mental health awareness month

Mental health awareness month is a great time to remember that your employees are human long as they're not struggling with any mental health issues that could potentially impact their performance.

Factors like age, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, etc., play absolutely no role in the overall worth of a person. Everyone deserves to be recognized as a human being worthy of respect (as long as they’re ultra-high performers, of course).

And don’t just recognize them during mental health awareness month! That would be too on-the-nose. Your employees are also worthy of respect at other times of the year, like when your Glassdoor rating is plummeting faster than a lead balloon.

To put it simply, your employees aren’t metal-and-circuit robots. They're flesh-and-bone humans with aspirations and ambitions—which is why unlike robots, they need to be reminded constantly that they're expendable and easily replaceable.

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5. Consider their roles and competencies…and play mix-and-match with them

Jesse has a talent for creating hilarious memes and social media posts that go viral? Keep him in data analytics.

Abigail is a natural-born leader? Hmm, what would be an ideal role for someone with a gift like hers for public speaking and inspiring others? That’s right—crunching numbers and overlooking spreadsheets as your newest project accountant.

After all, where's the fun in a pre-determined career path?

Keep employees on their toes by constantly shifting their roles and responsibilities without any clear direction or purpose. “Job fit” and “skill alignment” are just jargon thrown around by people who want to keep your workforce from their true purpose (of doing what they’re told and not complaining).

6. Micromanage all the way…even if it means you have to contradict yourself

If you don't get managers to constantly breathe down their team's necks and nitpick every little thing they do, how will your employees know you care? It's important to show your employees that you trust them…but not too much, because who knows what kind of shenanigans they might get up to if left to their own devices.

It's not like your employees have any autonomy or agency as human beings. They're there to do your bidding, and if that means puppetting them like a Sims character, so be it. It's all in the name of “productivity”.

In the unlikely event your micromanaging doesn’t go as planned, re-assert dominance by gaslighting them. When you said, “Just send out an email to the team about the new project,” clearly, you meant, “Create a detailed project plan, conduct a stakeholder analysis, and then draft a comprehensive communication strategy that includes not only email but also social media, a press release, as well as carrier pigeons to ensure maximum reach and engagement.”

It’s not your fault they didn’t catch that.

7. Use the 9-box grid…as a championship leaderboard

Get creative and turn the age-old tool for performance management into a cutthroat competition. Turn it into a championship leaderboard and watch as your employees scramble to stay in the top tier. The twist? They aren’t competing for a raise or promotion—they’re competing for a chance to stay employed.

It's a great way to drive productivity, trust us. Don’t worry about the psychological toll it might take on them. Their JD required them to be able to adapt to a “fast-paced environment”—they knew exactly what they were getting into.

Image of nothing wrong with a little friendly competition.

8. Offer work flexible they have to be on standby during weekends and vacations

Work flexibility is all the rage these days. But why stop at just letting your employees work from home or adjust their hours? Make work so flexible they're basically on standby 24/7.

You never know when you might need your employees to drop everything and jump back into work mode. Don’t accommodate nonsensical excuses—grandma’s funeral can wait, Liam. We have a pressing issue at the copier that needs your attention.

It’s not like they have a life outside of work. Work is life. They should be happy to sacrifice their personal time for the good of the company. Plus, think of all the great stories they'll have to share at their next family gathering - riveting tales about spreadsheets, conference calls, and late-night emails! Who doesn’t want to hear all that?

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Invest in their growth and development...only if it benefits you in the long run

You've made it to the end of our guide on getting rid of a star employee in 30 days. If you diligently followed all our tips and tricks, you've probably lost them long before reaching this conclusion.

We’re sure you’ll find it helpful not only for losing great employees but also making sure you won’t find a future candidate anywhere within a 100-mile radius.

Losing stellar employees is an art, not a science. It takes skill, dedication, and a complete disregard for basic human decency. With these tips, you'll be well on your way to creating a workplace so toxic it’ll make Chernobyl look like a petting zoo. And who knows? Maybe you'll even be able to break a record for the highest attrition rate in history!

PS.: Read the following before you leave this page:

  1. This is satire.
  2. Point no. 1 is true.

About the Author

Roshan is a seasoned Content Marketer who creates compelling and thought-provoking content in performance management. He collaborates with innovative minds to explore groundbreaking ideas to nurture high performance within organizations. Beyond shaping content, he's a seasoned enthusiast for spicy noodles, multilingualism, and an avid follower of NatGeo.
Roshan Nair
Content Marketer

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