Highly motivated employees are true assets to any organisation. They are productive, energetic, eager to take on additional responsibilities, and pleasant to be with and work with. Furthermore, they spread their enthusiasm and work ethic to others.
But every organisation, no matter what the industry or the size, also inevitably has non-performing, unmotivated, burning out – or burnt out – employees as well. Therefore, to increase success, every business owner needs to deal with this obstacle by identifying unmotivated employees and “turning them around”. But this isn’t as easy as it may seem, especially because as the employer, you can’t really “make” anyone be motivated!
Remember the old adage, “You can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”? That, in a nutshell, is true with people as well. You can’t motivate them if they don’t want to be motivated. But you’re the boss, so what can you do?
Firstly, you need to identify the signs of a person on the verge of burnout. Then you must create the atmosphere that encourages these non-performing employees to refresh and motivate themselves.
What are the signs of a lack of motivation or burnout? One of the key danger symptoms is a decrease in performance or productivity.
Now that you have eight symptoms of burnout or unmotivated behaviour and attitudes, observation is the first step. What else can you do to move the employee along and assist him or her in the process of self-motivation? Firstly, gather information from previous performance reviews and from other managers or supervisors. Determine if this situation is a trend or just a blip in performance. In either case, you need to intervene as follows:
1. Meet with the individual. Begin by asking the employee their perception of their performance or productivity. Then, based on your data and observations, share your specific views of the change in productivity and attitude.
2. Identify previous motivators. The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. Determine which factors are no longer present and/or determine which ones no longer work as motivators.
3. Identify new motivators. Frederick Herzberg, whose writings of workplace psychology in the 1950s and ’60s is still heavily relied upon today, offers the following most commonly used and effective motivators:
- First, identify areas where the individual can experience a sense of achievement, such as accomplishing a task, finishing a report, meeting with colleagues or creating new ideas.
- Next, recognise and reward the individual for a job well done or work in progress. This form of positive feedback usually encourages increased performance, and therefore the individual receives even greater recognition or comment from you, the boss.
- Provide opportunities for personal or professional growth on the job. This can be accomplished through attending seminars or workshops or by observing other employees in other jobs. In addition, by creating a concrete career pathway (a plan for future career growth), you can motivate this person to strive toward the next job or position in your organisation.
- Ensure that you’re providing appropriate amounts of guidance and supervision so the employee knows exactly what’s expected. Also, ensure the communication between the two of you is frequent enough, appropriate and adequate to ensure the employee knows exactly what the road to success looks like. You might discover that the current job is too challenging or perhaps not challenging enough to maintain the person’s interest and productivity.
- Try rotating or exchanging the job responsibilities between several employees. This form of cross-training injects fresh, new energy and challenges into the daily job performance.
- Try expanding the breadth and depth of responsibilities. This too can energise the individual who is not feeling challenged.
Basically, all of these proven techniques serve to assist you and the employee in evaluating how well they fit into a current role. This is an easy and extremely effective way to increase employee motivation, job satisfaction and productivity. After all, isn’t this what you want from your employees?