One of the most asked questions I receive from business owners and managers is “What
are some things I can do to motivate my people?” This conversation takes on many
forms but usually starts off with the idea that it is so hard to find good talent. The
questions I hear are “Why is it so hard to find ‘self starters’ anymore?” or “How do you
motivate the younger generation?” Sometimes it’s “the people we are hiring are of
(whatever) education level, and we don’t know how to motivate them.” But you know
what I never hear from people? “Is there anything that I’m doing or that we’ve built into
our companies culture that keeps people from being motivated?” The truth of the matter
is that for many companies and managers there are things they are doing that are keeping
their workers from being motivated in the first place. Here are five things that keep
employees from being motivated.

Not Knowing How to Properly Perform Their Job

Anyone who has been part of the interviewing process has eventually come to this
realization: People don’t look like their resumes. Yes, I said it. People aren’t as qualified
as they seem on their resumes. Where should the blame fall in this competitive job
market where resumes are examined under a microscope? It doesn’t matter. The
problem is we hire these people thinking they have certain skill-set and a certain level of
experience. Then, after they are hired they are treading water trying to figure out how to
survive. And for most, their companies do not have an adequate training curriculum for
new employees to really learn their jobs. So what do these new employees do? They
“fake it till they make it”. And all the while, performance is suffering.

Poor Performance Is Tolerated In Other Employees

Regardless of whether we believe it to be right or wrong, people are dramatically affected
by how other employees are treated and by the expectations placed on them. If there are a
few employees who have bad attitudes, or perform at a lower level and it is tolerated, it is
very difficult for the other employees (who see this going on) to accept being called to a
higher expectation. They may assume that the boss doesn’t know, or more likely, they
will assume the boss is playing favorites, and it kills both morale and motivation.
Honestly, I see this one all of the time and it frustrates me every time. I hear all sorts of
reasons why it’s not addressed in some employee. But regardless of the reason given,
performance will eventually fall. If enthusiasm is contagious, so is lethargy.

They Don’t Know They Are Not Doing A Good Job

In today’s workforce, there is often a great lack of feedback given to those whose
performance is lacking. Whether it is because the manager is busy or just a conflict
avoider, many workers today receive no feedback when they complete a task or when
their performance falls below expectations. When there is no feedback, there is no reason
to change performance.

They Feel They Are Underpaid

It’s amazing that with the seemingly endless resources online in which one can look up
salary information that more employers don’t know what the average salary is for a
position. I guarantee that the employees working do and if they feel they are being
underpaid, there is going to be a problem. If employees feel underpaid, it’s very unlikely
they are giving 100%. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that overpaying will motivate
someone to do more (pro sports should teach us that), but underpaying is a sure way to
keep people from being fully motivated if they stay in the first place.

They Get No Recognition For A Job Well Done

Doing your best and nobody saying anything is almost as good as a slap in the face. Yet
it is one of the most common problems I see in the workforce today. There is nothing
like someone giving their all, going above and beyond the call of duty, and then no one
saying, “good job”, “we appreciate your effort”. Adding insult to injury is when the boss
says, “Why would I thank them to do what I already pay them to do?” With that going
on, what is the likelihood of them going above and beyond again? The only possible
reward is when they get demoted to a higher position.


One of the most asked questions I receive from business owners and managers is “What
are some things I can do to motivate my people?” The truth is, regardless of what
technique a company may use, if they don’t fix these 5 things, employees will never
perform and their best.

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