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Four Management Habits that Drain Employee Motivation (And How to Fix Them!)

You may think you’re giving your employees every reason to come in to work each morning and hit the ground running. And you may think the management training seminar you took back in 2003 taught you everything you need to know about how to keep your employees engaged and excited about their work. But if the skills, tricks and techniques you’re using aren’t bringing in the results you expected, take a closer look at your approach, and consider dialing back some of these common but destructive habits.

Creating a Culture of Criticism

If think you can criticize your way to success and nitpick your company to a position of market leadership, think again. Employees, like all human beings, don’t enjoy being told that there’s something wrong with them. Criticism of a person, no matter how it’s delivered, is demoralizing and disengaging. But if you need to let your employees know that they’ve done something wrong or disappointed you, you have plenty of alternatives. Start by criticizing the action, not the person. And while you’re at it, think carefully before you scold, and weigh the cost of each interaction against its potential benefits.

Being Too Quick to Fire

Some managers think that a few strategic firings will quiet complaints, reduce requests for salary increases, and make the remaining workforce a little more grateful for their circumstances. And over the short term, they’re right. But when your best employees wise up and find work elsewhere, replacing them will be expensive and difficult—especially with a damaged reputation. Instead of firing, try coaching, transfers, and reassignments of responsibility.

Mistaking Corporate Fun for Actual Fun

If your employees complain that they’re underpaid, overburdened, or unsupported, don’t put a patch in this problem by implementing Funny Hat Day. A few free lunches or an afternoon of mini golf might quell the rebellion for a short time, but eventually you’ll have to address your employee’s concerns. So just do it now.

Asking for Innovation and Risk Taking Behavior…in Words Only

Don’t encourage your employees to suggest new ideas only to criticize and silence them when they do. The nature of risk is that it’s risky, and not all bold ideas will pan out. But your employees will be more likely to think outside the box if they know you’re ready to back them up. Foster an environment of trust and respect, and encourage your teams to do the same. You’ll hear more bad ideas, but you’ll also hear the good ones that would otherwise have gone unshared.

For more on how to get your teams to engage fully and commit to their work and to each other, contact the NC staffing experts at PSU.