Forget Motivating

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Forget Motivating, Avoid De-Motivating

For all the efforts that organizations and front line leaders place on creating a motivational climate, they should put some attention on reducing or eliminating the de-motivators.

Here are some of the ways you might be de-motivating your employees and how to turn it around:

1. Punishing your good performers

To get the desired results it is easy to heap more work on your best performers and ask less of your weaker performers. After a while your top performers will become resentful and will slack off or leave because their contribution isn’t being recognized, or worse it is punished. Distribute workload and expectations more equitably and develop your weaker performers to elevate their performance or confront and correct them out of the organization.

2. Not addressing your poor performers

It is messy and confrontational but a manager or supervisor (or HR department) who doesn’t actively manage unacceptable performance and behavior is sending a message (and not a positive one). Slowly but surely overall performance will decline as the good employees realize that it isn’t worth their extra efforts to produce extra-ordinary results when mediocrity is acceptable.

Once employees realize that expectations are high and being enforced overall performance will increase and so will accountability.

3. Group punishment for the sins of a few

Gathering everyone together to warn them or train them on an issue affecting only one or two people is an insult to good performers. The same thing happens when organizations make oppressive policies and procedures that treat employees like criminals because a few people took advantage. Instead confront and correct the few that take advantage.

4. Focusing only on mistakes

An overall negative vibe can take hold if the only time someone hears from their boss is when they screw up. Instead focus on providing positive reinforcement for the things that go well. It will earn the right to provide corrective feedback when required.

5. Hiring misfits

When you hire an employee, make sure the person will be a good fit with the workgroup. Putting the wrong person into a position can turn off co-workers, decrease teamwork, increase absenteeism and reduce productivity. You can help ensure better hiring by investing more time in the process including having the candidate do a group interview with future co-workers, people from other departments and with the operating manager. Think of your hiring decision as a $1 million commitment and you’ll recognize it deserves more effort than a couple of hours of interviewing and a reference check.

6. Promoting Leaders Who Don’t like People

If you promote individuals to people leadership roles and they are lacking in people skills or even a basic interest in people, you will end up with more people problems and a decline in productivity. Be sure your leaders place a high value on people and will treat them with respect and dignity. If you’ve got people in leadership positions who aren’t effective in their role, provide them training or demote them and upgrade your leadership bench strength.

7. Being Unapproachable and Unavailable

With workloads increasing and resources decreasing it is easy for managers and supervisors to be less and less available to their employees. Good people managers make sure that 25-30% of their time is spent interacting with people even if it means doing paperwork in the evening. Good people management doesn’t come by accident, it happens on purpose.

8. Unrealistic Expectations without Resources

The best organizations provide the resources needed to accomplish the goals that are set. Managers can fool themselves into heaping more change and expectations on their organization thinking people will rise to the challenge. And it can in small doses. Done over longer time horizons this causes burnout, turnover and productivity declines.

By eliminating the de-motivators your morale and productivity will begin to increase. Then you can focus on adding additional motivators like challenge, cross training, employee involvement projects and greater autonomy.