9 ways you are demotivating and disempowering your team

If your organization is like many of the companies in the modern corporate world, there has been a lot of focus on how to get the most out of your team -- the best performance, the most productivity, the biggest numbers. Some of the techniques you use, however, might only have a temporary effect -- you’d get the job done in the short term, but at the expense of your team’s motivation.

If you want to learn how to avoid these critical mistakes and build a strong and empowered team, read on for nine ways you may be demotivating your team.

Constant criticism

Every management seminar and executive coaching book will remind you of the importance of frequent and timely feedback for your employees. They’re not wrong -- continuous feedback is critical, but it’s important to remember that feedback is not always criticism. If you’re always jumping to “corrective action” instead of working with your team to find solutions, your nitpicking will only demoralize.

Public correction

When correction is warranted, the worst time to do it is in front of the whole team. Public embarrassment is a powerful demotivator and the only thing it will inspire is a crippling fear of failure, not a desire to improve and excel. Instead, make sure your correction is delivered away from other ears and in a forward-thinking manner. Discuss what you’d like to see in a similar situation next time rather than dwelling on the current mistake. If possible, engage the employee in deconstructing the problem or incident so that you can collaborate on future solutions. Giving them a hand in their own performance plan is much more invigorating.

Lack of attention

Collaborative action takes more your time in the short term, which leads us to another demotivator -- employees wither from lack of attention. If you don’t have time to mentor your staff and share your knowledge, validate their thought processes and let them think out loud with you, then something is going awry in your management style. Studies suggest that, more than anything -- and this is especially true of millennials -- the people who work for you want your time, preferably in one-on-one or small group situations. It may seem like the way to help your staff is to just solve their problems or do their tasks, but the best gift really is attention. Make time to mentor your people.

Ignoring the individual

Any company or organization can be seen as a complicated machine operating in service of larger goals, but the analogy falls apart if you start to treat people as simple cogs in that engine. No one is irreplaceable in a firm, but be sure you’re giving each of your staff the individual time and attention as a person separate from the overall machine. No one wants to feel like just a number.

Shirking employee development

Part of that individual attention should be spent identifying opportunities for employee development. Helping your team grow the skills they need to move to the next level is a critical part of your job as their manager. If you’re strictly focused on maximizing the organization’s big-picture goals, you’re doing your team a disservice and delivering serious demotivation.

Doing their work

It might seem like helping to jump in and do a task for your team. Some managers “just do it” instead of delivering the feedback on what they’d prefer -- it seems faster and less confrontational. The reality is, however, that this behavior is seriously demotivating. Most employees (and certainly all the good ones), actually want a chance to do their job and to do it well. Instead of jumping in, invest your time in explaining and coaching on how you want things done rather than doing it for them.

    If you’re already sharing and coaching on your approach, resist the urge to cling too hard to “your way” of doing things. If you’re unwilling to hear about different ideas, you’re not making room for innovation, personal growth or potential improvement. You may have to learn to let go a little and allow room for possible mistakes in order to foster and motivate your team to achieve new levels.

    Inflexibility

    If you’re already sharing and coaching on your approach, resist the urge to cling too hard to “your way” of doing things. If you’re unwilling to hear about different ideas, you’re not making room for innovation, personal growth or potential improvement. You may have to learn to let go a little and allow room for possible mistakes in order to foster and motivate your team to achieve new levels.

    Delving into the weeds

    Most of us have worked our way up through the various levels of management in a company – at one point in our careers, it was our job to dig into the details of every issue or problem and it can feel right to return there.  It might seem like you’re helping your team by jumping into the weeds with them, but the opposite is often true – it’s profoundly disempowering. Let your team manage the details, status to you and gain your input on the larger situation. Trust them to do their jobs and empower them to make the decisions at their level.

    Fixating on the big picture

    It can be demotivating if your manager is fixated on the top-line corporate goals, at the expense of any attention to day-to-day job. Don’t make the mistake of letting your team believe you only care about the end result; everyone needs to feel empowered to do their job and to believe their job matters. Make sure your team knows you care about them, their daily achievements and their overall goals. It’s not just about the top (or bottom) line results.

    Which of these habits do you see in yourself? Examine your behaviors and decide what you can change immediately, and what you can work on over time.

    Motivated and empowered employees are critical to achieving overall success, so create a plan today. You will be rewarded with an engaged team that is ready to take on even the most challenging tasks with skill and confidence.

     

    Joel Garfinkle is an executive leadership coach who recently worked with an executive who was struggling to motivate her team. Joel walked her through the nine ways she might be demotivating her staff, and helped her design a plan to empower the team through strategic changes to her habits. Joel has written seven books, including "How to Be a Great Boss: 7 Qualities That All Great Bosses Have." More than 10,000 people subscribe to his Fulfillment@Work newsletter. If you sign up, you’ll receive the free e-book "41 Proven Strategies to Get Promoted Now!"

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