6 Motivational Exercises That Went Horribly Wrong

If you're reading this, odds are you hate your job. You know it, everyone within earshot of your whining knows it and, most of all, your boss knows it.

As a result, companies are constantly coming up with ridiculous schemes to try and motivate their employees to at least pretend that they care about their job. Next time you find yourself humiliated by having to chant company slogans in the name of team building, just keep in mind, it could be worse. Much worse.

#6. A Waterboarded Employee is a Motivated Employee

Let's just cut to the chase here: Prosper, Inc. fucking waterboarded one of their own workers. Call us crazy, but this seems like a horrible way to get your employees fired up to come to work. But then again, we're not motivational technique specialists, and they are.

Joshua Christopherson, the manager who organized the waterboarding, told his staff that they should work as hard as employee Chad Hudgens was when he was trying to breathe. Christ, couldn't they have just made the IT department take the stairs instead of the elevator and achieve the same results?

We plan on strangling high costs, just like I'm strangling Chet here.

Now, for those of you who aren't entirely clear what waterboarding is, it's torturing a person by temporarily drowning them. It involves being placed on an inclined surface, with water being poured through a cloth over your mouth and nose and, if you have seen Christopher Hitchens from Vanity Fair being waterboarded, a seemingly never ending track of symphonic rock.

How did that turn out for them?

If you haven't figured it out already, Christopherson was a total dick. Aside from occasionally employing the enhanced interrogation approach to team building and motivation, he also used a variety of other methods; including pulling chairs out from underneath people and drawing fake mustaches on employees' faces.

Artist's depiction.

Suffice to say, before Christopherson could even consider getting his employees to form naked human pyramids, the waterboarded employee decided, "fuck this shit" and sued the company for damages.

On the other hand, it's worth noting that several of his co-workers worked together to hold Hudgens down during the waterboarding, and if that isn't a fine example of team-work, then, dammit, we don't know what is.

Say what you will about Agent Smith, but the man ran a tight ship.

#5. "Welcome aboard! Now walk across hot coals!"

According to sales people, a career in sales is not some kind of pansy job for the weak. Nobody believes this more than Eagle Star. That's why they decided that there was but one proper way to welcome sales trainees to the company: They made them walk over hot coals.

Of course, walking across hot coals isn't as hardcore as it sounds. It's already been picked up by a number of motivational and team-building groups and, as one such group puts it, it dispels that "deep-seated belief that fire will harm you." Because anyone who believes that fire isn't cute and cuddly, is clearly retarded.

Awwwww. It's so precious.

It's unclear how the skills learned from these sessions were supposed to translate into an office setting. Well, unless the sales floor at Eagle Star is run by twelve year old's who insist employees jump from one piece of furniture to another while yelling, "The carpet is lava!" Then it makes perfect sense.

How did that turn out for them?

Astoundingly, the combination of bare feet and fiery hot rocks did not end well. For some reason, the hot coals they were walking across were so hot that seven of the 10 staff members needed to be sent to hospital, two of whom needed to be sent to a hospital that specializes in burns. Given fire's aforementioned total inability to injure steel-willed sales reps, Eagle Star must have felt like they were dodging a bullet as the clearly unfit employees were rushed off in an ambulance.

Probably the same way these brats are chargrilled to perfection.

On the plus side, the fact that seven were injured instead of, say, just one proves that the employees were so motivated that they kept on running across the coals even after others had been burned.

Or perhaps they conga lined across?

This and the way the fellow employees assisted with the waterboarding above says something profound about people's tendency to mindlessly follow orders in the workplace. Not that Eagle Star's mangled employees can be blamed for repeated stupidity. The adorable kitten on their cubicle poster was very clear about what they were supposed to do if they didn't at first succeed at something.

#4. The Ultimate Employee Motivation Battle Royale

Motivating your employees is not a matter of fun and games. Except when it is, of course. But even then, it's only fun until someone loses an eye and/or is beaten with signs bearing the name of their rival companies.

That's exactly what happened at Alarm One. In an effort to inspire the troops, they had them beat each other with signs. Not as punishment for losing the game, mind you. No, that was the game. Beatings.

As for those who lost at this contest of barbarianism, they were forced to wear diapers, eat baby food, had pies thrown at them and were called abusive names. Basically, they were forced to actually do what most of us only feel like we're doing at work everyday.


How did that turn out for them?

Alarm One was eventually taken to court. An employee won a judgment against the company for the humiliation and pain she suffered, but that verdict was later overturned because Alarm One was harassing all of its employees equally.

A lesson David Letterman should consider.

As one attorney put it, "the court has taken the position that if men and women are harassed the same way, then it's OK." Sometimes, this stuff just writes itself.

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