Instead, work to keep them from being demotivated.

How do you motivate your staff? That question seems to baffle most business leaders. Motivating people seems to be more elusive than almost any other aspect of management. For that reason there are countless articles, books, and classes devoted to it.

In reality, the best business leaders don't motivate their employees.

That's right, as a business leader, your job is not to motivate. That may sound ridiculous to you. After all, the leadership belief systems we have come to believe has promoted the primary idea of motivating the workforce as being an essential piece to great leadership.

Most humans come naturally to hard work and sacrifice; these traits are essential to survival . Healthy, positive employees are hardwired with the desire to do quality work. You may view motivating employees to be a critical aspect of your job, but have you ever had an employee express the need to be motivated? Do you need a boss to motivate you to do your job? Unless you're a very unusual person, your answer to both questions is no. You can be certain that most employees feel the same.

If an employee is truly unmotivated, it's probably time to take him off the payroll. Meanwhile, the critical issue isn't how to motivate but, rather, how to keep people from becoming demotivated. And the best business leaders understand the difference.

An employee typically begins a new job excited to be part of the team and pleased to be making a living. Those who promote the need to motivate would certainly agree with that, but they also appear to believe that something must change over time, making it necessary to "re-motivate."

The common problem facing healthy, positive employees at all levels is not their own motivation. It is the work environment that demotivates.

When work environments consistently fail to provide the direction, resources and respect employees require, their desire to achieve is suppressed or redirected. They experience frustration and learned helplessness. They become motivated to retain their jobs rather than to perform them in a way that delivers optimal value to the organization. This is a common and predictable problem. When employees escape a discouraging work environment, their motivation to deliver optimal value for their organization re-emerges -- sometimes as they go over to a competitor.

Most leaders would agree that identifying what motivates all the diverse members of a staff is complicated and confusing. Motivating a group is harder than motivating an individual. When you lead a team, there's an entirely different dynamic. What you do for one employee can easily demotivate others.

When leaders decide to address demotivation, they quickly see that, unlike motivation, it's essentially the same for every employee. You can be certain, for example, that everyone on your staff wants the following from you and always will: (1) clear direction, (2) the resources to perform their jobs, and (3) not to be treated disrespectfully. A work environment structured to provide those three things is also exactly what the owner and senior team members want and expect for themselves. Deliver them, and you will be on your way to true leadership greatness. Fail to do so, and you may be an adequate leader but you'll never be a great one.

In summary, there are two key steps to staying on top of motivation and demotivation.

First, hire right and keep on your team only people who are motivated to do their jobs well. As Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, says, "Get the right people on the bus."

Second, understand that if they become demotivated, it is because of the environment in which they work. Strong and courageous leaders recognize that such an environment is their own failure. Don’t misdirect resources into unnecessary efforts to motivate staff.

Lastly, if you see one of your employees losing their positive energy, take them out to lunch and ask them how things are going on the job and what their “Happiness Number” is (use the #0-#10 scale for communication purposes). Tell them #5 is average and see what they say. You will be amazed at their response and what simple adjustments could “re-motivate” them to get them back on track.

Mary Deibert
President, Kiara
May, 2013

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This entry was posted in Blog, News and tagged . Posted on June 7th, 2013 by liz