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My Employee Lacks Motivation ... What Should I Do?

Tue,May 26,2015 @ 06:30 AM


My employee lacks motivation. What do you do when an employee lacks motivation for it seems like they're going through the motions when doing his or her job? Managers often are left without answers or solutions; whereas, if they were skilled and coaching to challenges such as a lack of motivation the employee and team would have a better opportunity to perform better. On one hand a manager should be equipped to deal with the issue of motivation as well as the employee should realize they are responsible for their motivation. All too often we tend to put an employee's lack of motivation on the shoulders of the manager when in fact the manager only has so much control.

A lack of motivation could come from a variety of perspectives and quite frankly not all bad perspectives. One of the best things that you can do when coaching to motivation is to literally ask one of the dumbest and most simplistic questions you could: What motivates you? If you had a lot of free time where would you like to spend it? This provides great insight to the employee and their belief systems.

If we took the time as leaders to find out what motivates each and every employee we would be in a better position to understand them so we could provide them choices to be motivated. Motivation often is treated as this rhetorical entity. How often have we heard a manager say "come on you got to be motivated?" In fact, this type of message can even be counterproductive as many employees will simply shut down because it's a demand while they're actually feeling a challenge or not motivated.

Motivation is a very tenuous thing. The number one thing according to a study at Harvard Business school by Teresa Amabile was Progress. If an employee feels like they're progressing or getting better and their job they seem to be the most motivated. In her study 76% of respondents stated they felt most motivated when they felt like they were getting better at their job. On the other hand, when I do public speaking or even a webcast and I ask the question "when a manager brings an employee into his or her office what's the employees first response?" They typically have a unanimous response that they did something wrong. If managers only bring employees into their office to reprimand or try to fix something that's wrong how motivated will that group of people be?

Here are three steps to motivating employees:

  1.  Ask what actually motivates them and use it as a leverage point. For example, we have a client whose manager just found out one of his employee's dreams was to take his whole family to Ireland. The employee worked in a call center where there is a lot of stress and challenge. Over an eight week period of time the manager simply put brochures and books on the employee's desk. The manager even put a screensaver about the country of Ireland on the employees PC. In eight weeks this employees productivity went up almost 32% in terms of their volume of effort as it relates to the number of calls they needed to make.The manager did NO formal coaching. He simply focused on what motivated the employee.
  2. A manager should find out what the employees want to specifically get better at as it relates to the job and then provide the resources and coaching as well as peer-based coaching to do so. This addresses the concept of progress.
  3.  Every manager should schedule 10 to 15 minutes in the morning and 10 to 15 minutes in the afternoon to go look for the good things employees are doing. This conditions the managers mind only to find and react to the good things.

Motivation is brittle and all it takes sometimes is for someone to ask questions, learn, and take action on what was learned. Everyone wants to feel motivated but is difficult for some people. This is a challenge a manager should not ignore.

Check Out Our Upcoming Webcast "7 Strategies to Coaching More Motivated Employees": Click Here

Also Would You Like to Measure Your Employee's Motivation Level Among Other Factors? Click Here


Tim Hagen

Written by Tim Hagen

Tim Hagen founded Progress Coaching, a Training Reinforcement Partner Company, in 1997. His entrepreneurial career began in college leading to positions in sales, sales management, and sales training for small and large corporations, and eventually ownership of several training companies. Tim is often a keynote speaker at companies teaching the value of coaching and conversations in the workplace. He possesses a unique combination of hands-on experience, academics, and innovative insight to solve the industry’s most common challenges specific to workplace performance. Tim holds a bachelor’s degree in Adult Education and Training from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

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