Staff motivation is absolutely essential for a business to do well. Motivated employees not only are more productive and efficient with their work, but they are also more likely to be fulfilled professionally, and to stick around in their jobs. In other words, they are satisfied with their job and are not constantly looking for job openings elsewhere. An employee who is motivated will believe in himself and in the work he does, and he will work harder than a person who is not motivated. However, motivating employees is not as simple as it sounds: the means is as important as the end, because adopting a wrong strategy to motivate employees may just end up de-motivating them. Here are some of the common mistakes employers make while trying to motivate staff:
1. Using Fear
Many organisations use fear to motivate their employees. Withholding pay, incentives, vacation or any such benefits are a common way of instilling in employees a fear of the management, following which they are expected to perform better at their job. Fear may work as a motivator, but only in the short-term. In the long run, fear as a motivator does more harm than good. An employee might prefer to quit the job than stay in an atmosphere that feels unhealthy or toxic.
2. Effusive Praise
Another common mistake made by many employers is to think that praising an employee and his work will motivate him to do better. Praise is necessary as a motivator, but excessive praise merely feeds the employee’s ego, and is not constructive. Any praise offered should be constructive, which means that the person offering any remarks should explain why the employee’s actions were praiseworthy. Criticism, if any, should be offered constructively, without making the employee feel like he is being reprimanded or humiliated.
3. Being Vague about Expectations
Every organisation expects its employees to contribute significantly to the company, but the problem with many organisations is that employees are not given an idea of what is expected from them at a macro level. Many employees are not even aware of the overall vision of the company. At the beginning of a project or new quarter, the employees can be briefed by the person handling the team, where each person is set a certain target to achieve within a timeframe. It is important to keep in mind that the targets should be reasonable, and take into account the employee’s opinion as well. An employee will feel de-motivated if he is overburdened with work.
4. Not Consulting Employees
An atmosphere that has no ‘us’ and ‘them’ is more motivating than one where the people in an organisation are grouped into these two camps. Many employers commit the mistake of not taking their employees’ opinions into consideration. Considering employees’ views for certain business decisions, wherever appropriate, can make them feel like they belong to the company, and motivate them to work even harder.
5. Promoting Office Rivalry
Bosses and managers sometimes play up office rivalry hoping that it will make their employees competitive and work harder. However, this can have a negative effect on employee morale. Comparisons like “Why don’t you do things more like Ted? He’s always successful” or “I saw Ted working till late into the night, but you seemed to have gone home by six” do not work as motivators. If some employees are underperforming, comparing them to good performers may only make them lose motivation; instead, they should be spoken to about any problems they may be facing at work or at home, to find out the cause.