Surefire Ways to Demotivate Your Employees
The business of business has always been to provide products and services to customers. Throughout the ages, plans have been made, resources organized, people recruited (or conscripted), and everything coordinated together so that as near as possible the desired outcome was realized.
Of all these elements, however, there is one on which the success or failure of business depends; and that is the people who work in it. Everyone makes errors of judgment. Not a one of them knows exactly what to do in all circumstances, or does it regardless. But, it’s the management of them that gives an organization its best chance for success because short of automating everything, business cannot be done without the people.
This, perhaps, is why the problem of motivating people keeps coming up. It contributes to or detracts from profitability more than any other single factor; and most organizations seem unable to solve that problem.
A popular question is, “How can I motivate my employees?” And the question reveals the answer. It does so because it’s the wrong question. In order to get the right answer, you have to start by asking a better question.
The right one is this: “How did my employees become demotivated.”
How did it happen?
How is it that they were filled with enthusiasm in the first six months, but now they dread coming to work?
Let’s bring it really close to home. What did you do to them? What did you do, or permit, that caused your employees to lose their motivation?
That’s what you need to ask yourself.
If you have a motivation problem in your company, you need to focus on why it happened at all.
You’ll never be able to solve the problem until you know what caused it. More than that: If you don’t know why, it is more than likely that you are still demotivating them, and that’s why you still have a problem.
Here are three ways that you could be demotivating your people:
1. Devaluing the contributions that they make
Either you value what people do, or you don’t. You have to see this from their perspective. To them, there are no grey areas.
They need to know in their heart of hearts that you are genuinely grateful for them and the work that they do, and you can make them believe the exact opposite simply by pooh-poohing their suggestions: “We tried that already”, or “I already know that” or worse, “You’re not paid to figure that out.”
If you really want to turn this around, you have to ask yourself what you can do to demonstrate consistently that you value your employees.
2. Preventing them from making a difference
It’s hard enough to make a difference at work without being discouraged from even trying. Quite often, for example, employees are sent to workshops and development courses. Many of them are excited to go, and can’t wait to put their newly discovered ideas into practice upon their return.
But all too often, managers prevent them from doing anything differently. None of what they’ve learned is deemed to be relevant to the task at hand.
It’s nothing short of amazing that organizations would spend thousands of dollars on training without determining beforehand what they wanted people to do differently as a result; but it makes the whole thing a mockery, not only of the investment, but also of the people themselves, when you allow your managers to stand in the way of them doing so when they try.
3. Modifying or removing things in their job that they have a right to expect
There are a lot of different things that people have a right to expect; but let’s look at just one of them.
Your employees have a right to receive fair pay for what they do. No doubt, you agree.
So how could they be made to feel that you were all talk and no action?
One way would be in the size of the salary increases and bonuses afforded to managers and board members compared to their own meagre increases. The rank dishonesty and greed that emerged during the recent recession is a perfect example.
It doesn’t matter if you think that your employees’ compensation package is fair. You’re not the one who is demotivated.
You have to learn to see these things from the perspective of the people you want to motivate. Justifying your actions, regardless of how logical it seems to you, makes the problem worse; not better.
Is your company and its leaders guilty of any of these? If so, then you need to take positive steps to turn things around.
It’s up to you.