How Managers Kill Employee Motivation — and What To Do Instead

By Robert Half January 10, 2017 at 4:30pm

Employee motivation is essential for a productive and successful workplace, and any good manager strives to establish an environment that inspires all employees. Sometimes, however, managers kill motivation without realizing what they’re doing.

Here are seven common ways managers may be sapping their workers’ inspiration — along with tips for avoiding these habits:

1. They’re not supportive

A supportive manager is the No. 1 factor in job satisfaction, employees reported in a survey by Robert Half and the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). So it’s important to take a genuine interest in your employees’ career and professional development by offering mentoring or coaching and helping employees create a clear career path. It’s also crucial to support employees’ work-life balance; that means being as flexible as possible when personal and family issues arise.

Pick up some tips from What Your Employees Wish You'd Do to Be a Better Boss.

2. They don’t communicate

It’s important that your employees know that they can talk to you when they have a problem or a question, but you can also motivate them by regularly reaching out to them. That means making sure your team understands what you expect of them, explaining how their roles fit into overall company priorities, and asking them about their own goals and priorities.

3. They micromanage employees

Few things kill motivation like micromanagement. If you’re constantly hovering over employees and second-guessing their choices, they’re not going to feel like they can make any decisions on their own. That’s why, once your employees know your expectations and have the right training, it’s best to get out of the way and let them do their jobs. Do what you can to structure projects so that employees have more autonomy and involvement in important decisions from beginning to end.

4. They allow negative attitudes to dominate

Respondents to the survey ranked friendly coworkers second only to supportive managers as contributors to satisfaction on the job. If you have negative employees, put policies and supervision in place to manage the most annoying workplace behavior.

5. They don’t tolerate failure

When employees are allowed to manage their work without fear of retribution for making mistakes, they are typically more productive. Instead of instilling fear, encourage your team to learn from errors and misjudgments.

6. They don’t reward people adequately

Paying employees what they’re worth is a key element of motivation, so do whatever you can to ensure you’re offering competitive compensation. But that’s not the only type of reward to consider. You can also show your appreciation by thanking people personally when they perform exceptionally well or meet a milestone, or by organizing parties or events to celebrate a team success.

7. They waste people’s time

People hate feeling like they’re wasting time. For that reason, try to avoid sending unnecessary emails or holding needless meetings. If you must call a meeting, make sure you have an agenda and stick to a time schedule.

Part of your job as a manager is to know your employees and learn what motivates them. Use these tips as a place to start.

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