Before looking at ways to motivate your staff, you must look at how you demotivate them. You might not even be aware that what you do demotivates your staff. Motivation goes hand in hand with morale. Disenchanted employees skyrocket turnover rates, often leaving companies without the workers they needed to retain.

While most employers make the mistake of thinking that money will improve any issues related to employee motivation, you probably know by now that money usually doesn't buy employee happiness. What does? Helping employees feel in control of their environment. So what are you doing wrong, and how can you motivate your staff again?

1. You don't challenge them

Smart employees (the only kind you've hopefully recruited) need to feel challenged. Employees who feel challenged are more likely to be enthusiastic and productive.

In fact, a review by hiring software provider Cangrade showed that intellectual stimulation is the most important aspect of an employee's job satisfaction AND it contributes most to their overall happiness.

So how can you motivate your employees through intellectual stimulation? Offer them task variety, autonomy, influence and the opportunity to acquire recognition. Then offer them some more of that.

2. You discourage open communication

There is nothing that kills motivation more than feeling your opinion doesn't matter. There is no employee that will not appreciate good communication from management. It's the key to a healthy work environment.

Especially in a small business setting, you need the full commitment and participation of your employees. An atmosphere of open communication can provide a highly motivated workforce where employees not only understand the goals of your business, but also what they need to do to accomplish these goals.

Keep the lines of communication open and give everyone equal participation in the success of your business.  

3. You don't listen to them

Among ways to motivate your staff, listening is often underrated. You go to great lengths to understand who your customers are - what they like, what they desire, what keeps them up at night.

So why not put the same effort into understanding your employees? Do you know what are their dreams and aspirations? How about where they eventually want to be professionally?

Knowing this will help you place them in a role that will motivate them, but it will also help you extract their full potential on the job.

6 things you're doing to demotivate your staff from Sandglaz

4. You're unadaptable

If your workforce lacks motivation, then take a close look at how flexible the management is. Understand that every situation is different, and might call for different approaches.

Of course, any business has guidelines. But rules can often be bent depending on the circumstances. Unless you have robots as employees, your team members need to feel they have the autonomy to judge the circumstances and implement the best outcome.

Being a flexible team manager also means that you allow team members to learn from their mistakes (this goes hand in hand with micromanagement).

5. You don't recognize accomplishments

Not recognizing accomplishments tells your employees that you don't care about the work they do. Even worse, if you communicate negative outcomes but don't recognize accomplishments, you might be discouraging them from taking healthy risks.

While you should definitely focus on what challenges your team is facing ahead, you should also spend some time reflecting on how much has already been achieved. Take as an example the financial services company Acuity. All departments are asked to recognize their own work and provide a list of significant accomplishments. Then the lists are reviewed by Acuity officers, who select the 100 most outstanding for an annual list of the company's "Top 100 Accomplishments". The company's CEO personally thanks employees for their impact on the company's bottom line. How's that for an incentive?

When your team feels that accomplishments are celebrated, they will feel more motivated to hit your company's milestones.

6. You don't set clear expectations

A Gallup study showed that knowing what's expected increased worker productivity by 5 to 10%, and also made customers a lot happier. So clear expectations have the potential to compel your team to give 110% for your company.

When employees clearly understand their role and the impact they have on the organization, they are also able to deliver on your brand promise. This will make them better brand ambassadors, and your customers will definitely win from this.


How do you pump up your employees' motivation? Join the discussion in the comment section below.