How to Kill Employee Motivation

Posted by on May 1, 2015 in Featured, Individuals, Miscellaneous, Organizations, Women | 0 comments

Concept denying access, hand holding traffic light. Isolated

Managers are at a loss as to how to motivate the people they supervise. It seems that nothing they do makes any difference.

What does a lack of motivation look like?

Lethargy is a primary characteristic. These employees generally have no ambition and no goals. They appear to be more interested on the clock on their desks.

Demotivated employees tend to run in packs, too. It’s rare to find one person who is like this, while everyone else is upbeat and excited about working for the company. This is important, and we’ll come back to it a bit later.


There are several other reasons why employees could lack motivation. One is that they could be tired. The human body can only withstand so much stress, whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. When you combine these things, then you discover that people wear out even faster.

Think about your own organization. How much vacation time are your employees entitled to annually? Two weeks? Three weeks? Four weeks? And of those days they allegedly have, how many do you let them take? You can tell people that they’re entitled to a month off every year; but if it’s never a good time because you’re busy, short-staffed, at the end of the quarter, or for any other reason, then even if you do let them go, they won’t be able to relax and recharge themselves for their return. Instead they’ll be thinking about how they had to twist your arm to get you to let them go and how they may be letting the company down by being gone. No one can relax with that on their mind.

So fatigue is a serious cause.


One of the most surprising things is that leaders and managers rarely examine their own behavior to see if they might be the cause.

Think back to the first few months when each of your employees first started working for you; when they first joined the company. Do you remember the enthusiasm, the smiles, and the excitement? What happened? Part of it is that a certain familiarity set it. Things became routine, and with routine boredom is common. But by itself, it can’t explain everything.

What’s the morale like? Many supervisors are oblivious to the true state of the morale in their organizations. They seem to think they if they are excited about their jobs, then everyone else is, too.

The truth is that if employees aren’t motivated, then their morale is low. It’s impossible to have one without the other.

Misery loves company

Earlier, we saw that demotivated employees tend to gather. That’s because they all have something in common. They’re disillusioned about working in your organization, and they love to commiserate with one another. They’re encouraged when they hear that others share their opinions and ideas.

How you can motivate your employees?

If you want to turn things around and get people motivated again, then you have to do the things that are known to work; and that means that you must abandon wishful thinking. If you want better results, then you have to take action; the right action. You can’t get what you want by simply wishing that things were different.

Test yourself

Ask yourself these questions. The absence of good answers means you have work to do.

  1. What opportunities are there for your employees to be promoted?
  2. When was the last time you acknowledged the good work that your employees have without trying to share the credit, especially in a setting that’s outside of your unit?
  3. What opportunities are available for professional development? Are they confined to managers alone, or can junior (not necessarily younger) employees also take advantage of them?
  4. Do you routinely include your employees in the decisions that you make? Do you even bother to ask for their opinions?
  5. Is the work you give your employees challenging for them, or does it just keep them busy?
  6. Do the jobs you give your employees afford them increasing responsibility?

These things are known to motivate people. If you’re not doing them – all of them, then you shouldn’t be at all surprised that they’re demotivated.

Take whatever time is necessary to come up with good answers. Talk to you employees one-on-one. Ask them for their opinions, and then act on them.

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