Employee Motivation: Do You Take the Wind Out of Their Sails?

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    Ever notice how a new employee’s enthusiasm eventually wears off? In 85% of companies, employees’ morale significantly drops off after their first six months on the job, according to a survey from Harvard Management Update.

    For the most part, employee engagement is determined by work environment, and it can be fostered or hindered by you—the boss. Employee motivation experts say the best way to keep employee enthusiasm moving forward is to “first, do no harm.” At a minimum, don’t do anything that demotivates your workers.

    Check out eight demotivators below.

    1. Public criticism.
      Pointing out a worker’s mistake in front of others rarely yields a good response. Though some managers think public reproach keeps everyone else from making the same mistake—it usually just makes everyone feel bad.
    2. Failing to provide praise.
      If employees feel like their hard work goes unnoticed, they’ll start to wonder why they’re working so hard in the first place. Be sure to offer praise and recognition, both privately and publicly. Even small things, like a thank-you card or a “good job” email work.
    3. Not following up.
      Have you ever solicited ideas, asked what employees think about a policy, or asked your team to draft a proposal? If so, be sure to relay the results, even if the ideas or proposals don’t go anywhere. Asking employees for input without acknowledging it shows a lack of respect.
    4. Give impossible goals or deadlines.
      Once employees realize they won’t be able to get something done, they’ll think, “What’s the point? I’m going to fail.” Provide goals and deadlines that are challenging, but not impossible and increase accountability.
    5. Not explaining your actions.
      Just because you hold the cards doesn’t mean you should hide them. Explaining the big management decisions will help employees understand your perspective—and they’ll respect you for it. Likewise, sharing key company data such as revenue and profits validates staff contributions.
    6. Bad coaching to improve performance.
      If an employee is producing sub-par work, it’s OK to let them know your expectations. But it’s not OK to threaten their job—especially if you’re threatening the entire team in a public setting. A “do this or else” attitude often has the opposite effect when it comes to motivation.
    7. Not honoring creative thinking and problem solving.
      When employees take initiative to improve something—a company process or an individual task, for instance—don’t blow it off. Instead, take a good, hard look at their suggestion. Don’t ignore it, or you risk losing that employee’s creativity in the future.
    8. Micromanaging or not trusting your employees.
      Perhaps the worst thing a manager cando is not giving people the authority and confidence to do their job. Employees need to feel trusted and valued to succeed—and micromanaging communicates the opposite.

    Management Success Tip:

    Eliminate these “demotivators” before you start planning so-called “motivational” perks. Free coffee and donuts are pleasant, but they’re don’t override bad management practices. To become a better manager, take a look at these posts: What Makes a Great Boss, Avoid These Management Mistakes and Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For.

    Do you want to develop your Management Smarts?