Five Killers of Motivation in the Workplace (With Solutions!)



We all have the occasional ‘off day’, where our motivation is low. That’s absolutely normal. What isn’t normal, however, is when the whole team seems to have these days more often than not. If you feel they do, then here are five things to look for, and how to fix them.

Maybe you’ve tried the common quick fixes such as motivational speakers, group outings, training, team-building exercises, changing compensation programs, adjusting organization structure, adjusting the office space, and other such low-impact maneuvers. 

You may see some mediocre results but they will be short-term and unsustainable. I am sure you will not be surprised to hear that continuing to throw the same old solutions at motivation problems will not suddenly yield better results. 

I suggest that you first define your motivation problems correctly and then decide if you are willing to do what it takes to solve it.

Poor leadership skills

Motivation can definitely be affected by how leadership treats the team.

The reality is that the research and facts have long been right in front of you. Lack of motivation often begins within the leadership and management team. 

Basically, if people are not motivated it is because leadership and management have not created an environment that is conducive to motivation. The real issue is how to encourage managers to stop destroying motivation.

Most people start in a new company feeling very motivated. Think about the normal energy and vigor someone starts their new job with. It is a great new world! They cannot wait to make their mark, have an impact, make good impressions, and do a good job. 

They already know their wages, are motivated to come to work for you based on it, and are ready to do that job. So if they are no longer motivated, leadership and management screwed up.

Look at various methods to train your managers, or provide gentle advice and direction that won’t be accepted as criticism.

Motivation affected by the work environment

Ever had a frustrating issue in your role, that nobody seems keen to fix? That printer that takes seemingly an hour a page? That vehicle which always stalls? The office lighting that causes eye strain? 

Maybe your team has that too? Look at the ergonomics of the environment. Ask for advice from your IT consultants. Maybe you require new communications software, or it could be just unsuitable hardware? Is the lighting well placed and suitable? 

The easiest way to resolve this is to speak candidly with your employees. They will typically be pretty forthcoming about any physical barriers to their workflow.

Vision and goals not shared

People feel motivated when they know where you are heading, and how they help with that vision. Imagine you are rowing on a boat – the whole team needs to know the direction and when to row, right? 

Motivation suffers when employees do not have a clear vision of what their employer wants to accomplish, and quite frankly they do not feel there is anything special about the company they work for.  In extreme cases, they may even feel they are working for the weaker team. 

Make sure that your company and department goals and objectives are shared with the team regularly. You can do this during team stand ups, on posters around the office or the business intranet.

Negative company culture

How often do you purposely work on creating a positive company culture? There are so many different articles, blogs, books and videos out there with various methods and frameworks to work on improving your company culture. There really is no excuse.

Look for telltale signs of a poor company culture, such as;

  • Leaders exhibit an attitude that employees are only there to serve them, rather than to serve customers and the company mission.
  • Employees are not treated with the same dignity and respect.
  • Employees do not feel their bosses will back the decisions they were given the authority to make.
  • Employees do not feel able to learn from their mistakes.
  • Leadership does not actively listen to employee interests, opinions, concerns, and goals
  • Delegation is used as a means for getting rid of less-interesting and mundane tasks rather than showing confidence in an employee’s ability to take on more responsibility

Gratitude versus negative feedback

Does it sometimes feel that the negative feedback-to-compliment ratio is100% negative feedback?

This also means it is likely that employee development and retention only becomes a consideration once an employee is considering leaving or someone is on the verge of being let go. 

Stop this behaviour right now – look for ways to show gratitude to your employees in a public way. It could be in the next team meeting, pointing out one or two key people and thanking them for something specific.

In Summary

With a little focus and perseverance, you can direct the course of the ship, and get your business back on track. Ensuring everyone within your team has the right motivation and desire to succeed is paramount to your success overall.

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