Motivating employees is a serious business and every leader has their own ways of tackling the challenge. Entrepreneurs including Tom Chapman, Reid Hoffman, and Bob Bechek have all made staff motivation a top priority.
Left unchecked, demotivated employees can destroy your business, so it pays to look carefully at some of the causes. Here are just three of the top reasons.
Lack of transparency
Startups and small businesses don’t have a lot of employees. But in many cases, this does not increase transparency or communications. Bizarrely, it can actually reduce it. And in some cases, secrecy starts to become the company culture.
However, this lack of transparency often stems from good intentions. In a small firm or startup, employees have a stake in the success of the business. Their livelihoods depend on the company thriving and growing. Most leaders are acutely aware of this and that can mean they fall into the habit of keeping bad news close to their chest, which can lead to a breakdown in trust.
Trust is the cornerstone on which to build a motivated workforce – it gets you buy-in from employees, and gives you the flexibility you need in good times and in bad. But a Harvard Business Review study found that 58% of workers would trust a stranger more than they trust their boss. Try hard not to be one of them.
Lack of control is demotivating
Not having sufficient control can demotivate even the best of people. In small businesses it’s a particular problem. The pace of change, especially in startups, can be hard to handle and leaders are constantly stretched themselves.
When founders are overloaded they tend to start micro-managing, and worse, chopping and changing priorities without properly communicating the reasons. This can lead to employees losing trust in their leaders, which in turn makes it hard for them to keep motivated.
Thankfully, solving this issue is relatively simple. Sit on your hands and trust that your team can deliver, in their own way, without your constant involvement. Give your people room to breathe, room to make their own decisions and the time and space to execute their work in the way that best suits them. Remember, in a study done by the Center for Generational Kinetics, 80% of employees said they felt they could do their job without their manager.
According to Leigh Branham, author of The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave, just 12% of people leave their job for more money, so you can bet that looming large on any list of reasons to quit is sheer, unadulterated boredom. Tolerating boredom is a life skill, but younger generations, brought up with entertainment and self-education on tap via the Internet, are less forgiving of a boring job.
This is a good thing. For too long, people have been expected to sit endlessly at desks in dull office spaces doing dull work. And many leaders have had an expectation that employees will act like components not like people. Even an entry-level job should be rewarding and worthwhile.
If staff are demotivated because they’re bored it could be because their work is not challenging them; they need greater responsibility or a new project; or they can’t see how their job fits in and why it’s important. But the number one reason is usually very simple: you’re not asking them what’s wrong and what you can do to help.
These are just three of the most common reasons. Crack the code on just one and you’ll have a happier, more productive team.