Why Your Employees are Losing Motivation

why employees losing motivation - imageby David Sirota and colleagues

from an article published in the Gifted Leaders e-Newsletter

Highlights from the article:

Management must understand the three sets of goals that the great majority of workers seek from their work – and then satisfy those goals. Employees who work for companies where just one of these factors is missing are three times less enthusiastic than workers at companies where all elements are present.

  • Equity: To be respected and to be treated fairly in areas such as pay, benefits, and job security.
  • Achievement: To be proud of one’s job, accomplishments, and employer.
  • Camaraderie: To have good, productive relationships with fellow employees.

The most important thing is to provide employees with a sense of security, one in which they do not fear that their jobs will be in jeopardy if their performance is not perfect and one in which layoffs are considered an extreme last resort, not just another option for dealing with hard times. But security is just the beginning. When handled properly, each of the following eight practices will play a key role in supporting your employees’ goals.


  • Instill an inspiring purpose. A critical condition for employee enthusiasm is a clear, credible, and inspiring organizational purpose: in effect, a “reason for being” that translates for workers into a “reason for being there” that goes above and beyond money.
  • Provide recognition. Managers should be certain that all employee contributions, both large and small, are recognized. The motto of many managers seems to be, “Why would I need to thank someone for doing something he’s paid to do?” Workers repeatedly report how distressed they are when managers don’t take the time to thank them for a job well done yet are quick to criticize them for making mistakes. Receiving recognition for achievements is one of the most fundamental human needs.
  • Be an expediter for your employees. Incorporating a command-and-control style is a sure-fire path to demotivation. Instead, redefine your primary role as serving as your employees’ expediter: It is your job to facilitate getting their jobs done. Your reports are, in this sense, your “customers.” How do you know, beyond what’s obvious, what is most important to your employees for getting their jobs done? Ask them!
  • Coach your employees for improvement. A major reason so many managers do not assist subordinates in improving their performance is, simply, that they don’t know how to do this without irritating or discouraging them. Give actual performance feedback as close in time to the occurrence as possible. Recognize that workers want to know when they have done poorly. Don’t succumb to the fear of giving appropriate developmental feedback; your workers need to know when they are not performing well. At the same time, don’t forget to give positive feedback.


  • Communicate fully. One of the most counterproductive rules in business is to distribute information on the basis of “need to know.” It is usually a way of severely, unnecessarily, and destructively restricting the flow of information in an organization. Workers’ frustration with an absence of adequate communication is one of the most negative findings expressed on employee attitude surveys. Good communication requires managers to be attuned to what employees want and need to know; the best way to do this is to ask them! And tell it like it is. Employees can quickly see through “spin.” Get continual feedback on how well you and the company are communicating.
  • Face up to poor performance. Identify and deal decisively with employees who don’t want to work or who have a negative impact on team positivity and productivity. It will raise the morale and performance of other team members to see an obstacle to their performance removed.


  • Promote teamwork. Most work requires a team effort in order to be done effectively. Research shows repeatedly that the quality of a group’s efforts in areas such as problem solving is usually superior to that of individuals working on their own. Whenever possible, managers should organize employees into self-managed teams, with the teams having authority over matters such as quality control, scheduling, and many work methods.

Related to all three

  • Listen and involve. Managers who operate with a participative style reap enormous rewards in efficiency and work quality. Participative managers continually announce their interest in employees’ ideas. They find opportunities to have direct conversations with individuals and groups about what can be done to improve effectiveness. Participative managers, once they have defined task boundaries, give employees freedom to operate and make changes on their own commensurate with their knowledge and experience. Indeed, there may be no single motivational tactic more powerful than freeing competent people to do their jobs as they see fit.

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