Arik Filstein, 25/05/2011
What causes good employees to become unmotivated?
Corporations are constantly asking about the reasons why their efficient, high-performance employees suddenly become just the opposite.
According to studies that have been carried out, the situations and behaviors that most discourage company personnel are lack of opportunities for growth, broken promises, and unequal treatment.
Other factors that can also decrease worker enthusiasm are being assigned to an uninteresting position, or finding that salaries as well as recognition and status are limited.
Below, we will examine each of these demoralizing situations in particular.
A classic situation involving broken promises is seen when a manager tells team members, “Look, the company is growing, we’re hoping to do more hiring, and those with the most seniority will become supervisors.” However, months or even years go by and still nothing happens.
Another common case is when the next raise is promised, but when the date arrives the answer is “Yes, your raise is coming, but we have to wait a little longer, sales have gone down.”
When excuses like these are frequently heard, personnel lose faith in the promises they have been given, and in their possibilities at the company as well.
Lack of opportunities
Another common custom in business environments, which may be a major cause of lost motivation, is the hiring of new outside personnel for management positions without allowing the company’s current employees to apply for the job.
The opposite scenario can be equally harmful when, for example, the boss asks a supervisor to apply for the vacant position of Director of General Services, without considering whether the supervisor actually desires or wants to take on these new responsibilities. Later, to avoid bad feelings, the supervisor accepts, but lacks enthusiasm.
Encouraging employees to take new positions that do not interest them can cause frustration, and the company may also lose the ability to apply their talents in other areas.
To avoid this type of error, it is important to evaluate an employee’s personality before giving a promotion. Some people perform at their maximum in more solitary work, where they have less contact with other colleagues. However, when put into leadership positions where they must manage other personnel, the same level of performance cannot be achieved.
On the other hand, if an employee is genuinely interested in advancement, but does not yet possess the abilities needed for the new position, it may be necessary to provide training.
It is always a good idea in the area of human resources to take the aspirations of existing employees into consideration when filling a vacant position (as long as they are genuinely interested in the job), and only afterwards to consider external candidates.
A classic case of false expectations is when an applicant with an impressive resume is hired and promised, “You will be head of the department.” On first day of the job he realizes that the department consists of just himself and one assistant.
Another easy way to cause loss of motivation in a worker is to say, “Here is your office, we wish you great success in carrying out your duties”, while failing to clearly indicate what those new duties actually will be.
Even when an employee has worked at a company for years, it is always necessary to provide an orientation process, to ensure that he or she is clearly aware of the objectives of the new position.
Lack of support and communication
Every employee needs to have access to a supervisor or boss to listen to his or her concerns and to help correct any kind of unusual situation.
Sometimes an employee will advise his or her boss that a project needs some changes, but these observations are not taken into account and the project turns out badly. It is even likely that the boss will say, “But you never told me there was a problem”.
If this happens repeatedly, the employee may become discouraged to the point of shutting down and saying things like, “Why should I say that there is a problem if nothing will be done about it?”, or, “I don’t care what happens”. In this way, the worker will stop being committed to the company’s success, and of course, how can employees keep going forward with enthusiasm if nobody supports them, nobody listens, and nobody cares what they think?
Recognition helps personnel feel motivated in the way they carry out their duties within a company.
However, it is necessary to consider how such recognition is granted, and not to let it become just a routine. Many companies put up framed photos of their employee of the month in their reception area, but it seems to always be the same employee, or else the manager gives the employee their certificate, takes the photo, and then never even says hello afterwards.
Simply knowing the names of the personnel, and thanking or congratulating them in a sincere manner, can be an important form of recognition in itself.
For them yes, for you no
A common example of a situation that causes loss of motivation is when a company announces that it has decided to cut costs and therefore that raises will be eliminated, or even that coffee will be available for employees only in the morning (once it is finished, no more will be made). However, new personnel continue to be hired at high salaries, and international executives maintain all of their privileges.
Employees will perceive these details as injustices, and say, “There are no benefits for us, but for the others there are.” This can have a bad effect on the workplace environment.
Another case is where an employee stays until late into the night finishing up a project, but the next day arrives late and automatically receives a penalty in their pay.
Direct supervisors, who are aware of what each employee is doing, must recognize when each one goes the “extra mile”, so that workers do not feel as though their work is unappreciated.
In summary, it is important for managers and executives to analyze their own actions and show consideration to the employees they supervise, in order to avoid damaging the motivation that is so necessary for any company to reach its objectives.
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