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Monday, April 29, 2019

6 Surefire Ways to Kill Morale

You’re doing everything you can to make sure your talented employees stick around, your most enthusiastic workers have an infectious impact on morale, and your strugglers get the coaching and training they need to bolster their contributions. But while you work hard to staff your workplace, are you also guilty of these six simple blunders that may be standing in your way? Don’t take two steps back for every three you take forward. Watch out for these morale killers and stop them at their source: you.

1. Overworking people
Nothing burns good employees out quite like overworking them. It’s so tempting to work the best people hard that managers frequently fall into this trap. Overworking good employees is perplexing for them as it makes them feel as if they’re being punished for their great performance. Overworking employees is also counterproductive. New research from Stanford showed that productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours, and productivity drops off so much after 55 hours that you don’t get anything out of working more. 

2. Micro-managing
To staff members or subordinates, nothing shouts "lack of confidence" more than your efforts to oversee everything they're doing. If you check everything or try to do everything, how will they people ever develop? More important, your lack of confidence will come through clearly. Therefore, unless you're really in a critical situation, let people learn and even fail if necessary. They will learn best that way and will have a higher opinion of you. If you don't give your staff some responsibility, and let them get on with what you are paying them to do, it can be hugely damaging for morale.

3. Withholding praise
It’s easy to underestimate the power of a pat on the back, especially with top performers who are intrinsically motivated. Everyone likes kudos, none more so than those who work hard and give their all. Managers need to communicate with their people to find out what makes them feel good (for some, it’s a raise; for others, it’s public recognition) and then to reward them for a job well done. With top performers, this will happen often if you’re doing it right. This doesn’t mean that managers need to praise people for showing up on time or working an eight-hour day—these things are the price of entry—but a boss who does not give praise to dedicated employees erodes their commitment to the job.

4. Frequent threats of firing
Some managers use threats of termination to keep you in line and to scare you into performing better. This is a lazy and shortsighted way of motivating people. Making someone fear for their livelihood only causes fear, anxiety and distrust. When you make people feel like they're instantly replacable, they have little incentive to perform. It's easy to crush someone's spirit if you treat them like a number, and not a unique individual with distinct abilities. People who feel disposable are quick to find another job where they’ll be valued and will receive the respect that they deserve.

5. Setting impossible goals
Goals exist to encourage people to perform, but when employees are consistently coming up short because the bar's set too high, their morale is going to plummet. They'll feel like they're underperforming, even though they probably aren't.

6. No opportunities to learn
If you aren’t giving your people a path to advance their career within your organization, they are going to see their job as a dead-end one. If you offer your employees no opportunity to learn and improve their skills, they are going to lose interest. People want to improve, they want to advance their career – so it’s critical for companies to make that to happen.

This is a win-win for the company as well. Because, by providing opportunities to learn, the company is upskilling its workforce and allowing itself to promote from within, instead of having to hire external candidates. But that can only happen if the organization is prioritizing learning and development.  

A lot of these mistakes that managers make are so easy to avoid. It’s just about treating your employees with respect.

Cultivating and maintaining a high level of motivation in employees requires more than implementing a few new procedures or incentive plans from the Human Resources department. It requires managers and leaders to be different, and to cultivate in themselves the qualities they want in their employees.

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