8 Motivational Mistakes Leaders Make Without Realizing It
All good managers want to keep their team members motivated. After all, motivated employees are happy, productive, and more likely to put in extra effort when they are asked. There is a nearly limitless list of techniques managers have used in an attempt to create motivation. Some work very well.
There are, however, a few motivational techniques that fall flat over and over again. Unfortunately many of the leaders who make these 9 motivational mistakes never realize their efforts are missing the mark.
1. Motivating Only in Down Times
Many leaders make the mistake of focusing on motivation when there is a crisis, or when productivity has lagged. For example, they offer a bonus for employees who will work longer hours to complete a critical project that has hit a snag, or they will offer a special gift to the 5 employees who are able to increase their productivity by 10 percent. This is fine, but it is important to remember that employees also need to feel appreciated when things are going well. Team members should never feel as if the only time they are rewarded is when things hit the fan.
2. Using Motivational Tactics in Place of Good Management and Policies
There are no cash bonuses, gifts, promises of time off, praise, or other extrinsic rewards that will motivate employees that are working under conditions that are unsafe, unsatisfying, unfair, abusive, or chaotic.Managers who attempt to implement motivational tactics when they should be changing policy, modifying their management approach, or improving the work environment are going to sow more resentment than motivation.
3. Overestimating the Effectiveness of Cash
Not only is cash the most expensive means of motivating people, it's not nearly as effective as many people assume. More money does not always equal more motivation. In fact, when managers use money as their sole form of motivating others, team members begin to view receiving the cash as a transaction.
This does nothing to increase brand loyalty or foster a relationship between employees and leaders that will lead to a desire to make the organization more successful. Smaller, personal, and unexpected gifts are likely to have a better impact on motivation.
4. Failing to Personalize Motivational Techniques
Not every person is motivated by the same things. In addition to this, not all teams as a whole are motivated by the same things. Unfortunately, too many managers have a limited repertoire of what they have to offer in terms of motivation. Instead of getting to understand the dynamics of a team as a whole or to understand the needs of each individual, these managers just pull out one of their motivational “tricks”. Unfortunately, these efforts often come off as being tone deaf and out of touch.
5. Underestimating Employees Sense of Cynicism and Sophisticated World View
There are companies that have managed to turn a profit producing t-shirts, posters, coffee mugs, and other items all sporting one of many motivational quotes or sentiments. These items remind workers that the customer is always right, that hard work always pays off, and that it's all about the team. These posters hang in corporate offices, and the other items are often given to employees to motivate them. Unfortunately, because many of the sentiments on these items are trite, if not demonstrably untrue, the employees are usually motivated to do nothing more than roll their eyes.
6. Forgetting that Stepping Aside is a Great Motivator
Managers who constantly praise and reward throughout a project are often couching micromanagement in behavior they are presenting as motivational. Sometimes the best motivation that an employee can receive is management's expression of confidence in their abilities. This is best accomplished by stepping aside and giving team members the space they need to do their jobs.
7. Ignoring Team Member's Feedback and Insights on Motivation
Failing to communicate is a huge motivation barrier. First, it creates a tense work environment where employees often feel as if they are being kept in the dark. Second, it prevents leaders from getting to know employees and what motivates them as individuals. This doesn't mean it is necessary to ask each person which form of extrinsic motivation they prefer, however it is a good idea to know the type of work that keeps them satisfied and motivated.
8. Failure to Follow Through
Motivational promises mean nothing if there is no follow through. If promised days off never come to fruition because things are just too hectic or bonuses take months to make it onto paychecks, employees lose both trust and motivation.
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