How to Manage an Unmotivated Employee
Assumptions of any kind are always detrimental if you truly wish to seek a solution to a problem. It’s often assumed that an unmotivated employee is lazy and labelled as ‘bad hires’. This assumption is not always true. Even the best-hire eventually becomes disengaged & unmotivated owing to several factors. The fact that they are not feeling one hundred per cent motivated is not always a result of laziness. It requires leaders to be aware of the signs and symptoms, and offer support, repair and refocus. Failure to deal with this effectively can aggravate the situation and lead to a more infectious problem resulting in lost productivity as well as revenue.
The Cause of Demotivation
When an employee feels unmotivated and low, it usually presents itself as distance and silence. If they are aware that they can walk up to their manager and talk, then any issue can be discussed and resolved. If you learn to treat your employees with respect and project an attitude the organisation values them as individuals rather than ‘resources’, there is a high possibility of reducing the possibility of demotivation. As leaders, you must take out time to have simple discussions or one on one with your team so that you are aware of what de-motivates them.
Many factors contribute towards de-motivation. Some of these include:
- A sense of boredom
- Lack of confidence in the management or any decisions taken at the organisation level
- Slow down or lack of opportunities for career progression
- Feeling unappreciated even after doing good work
- Overburdened with unmanageable workload leading to loss of balance between personal and professional life
- Feeling of mistrust with extreme levels of micromanagement
- Unhealthy and unsuitable working environment
- Lack of transparency and communication from the management
The Tell Tale Signs of De-motivation
Every individual with a leadership position must have the ability or needs to develop the ability to identify and spot potential issues of their team. It is very vital for a leader to build a healthy relationship with their team and identify problems rapidly whenever something is not right. Once you identify the problem, you as a leader need to deal with it effectively for the betterment of both the employee and the organisation as a whole.
As a leader, you need to look out for the following telltale signs of de-motivation:
- Lack of focus in work-related tasks.
- Increased level of absence from work.
- Spending too much time away from the workstation or the break time of that employee has increased.
- Late start, early stop times
- Changes especially in an individual’s demeanour and mood towards colleagues or peers.
- Inappropriate remarks or comments on others.
- Distancing themselves from colleagues.
Impact of an Unmotivated Employee
If an employee is unmotivated, apart from the effect on their productivity, they are likely to transfer the feeling on to other individuals working in and around, thereby impacting the overall atmosphere within a team or a department at work.
A de-motivated individual is likely to request more leave or take more time off during working hours by giving excuses of seeing a doctor, or the urgency to meet someone, or to pick up a relative or child from school etc on a regular basis. Since these unscheduled leave requests are not part of the accrued annual leave, it will cost your organisation time and money.
When a de-motivated employee is in a client facing role, then the problem no longer confined to the office environment. In this case, it can cause much more severe issues which can impact the sensitive relationship between clients and your organisation. It could even go as far as losing customers.
For any business, its brand image and reputation is of paramount importance and a contributing factor to success. If you don’t address these motivational issues, it could end up causing serious damage and hurt the image of your company and put your brand at stake.
How to Improve Employee Motivation
1. Always ask the right questions to your employees at the right time. By avoiding any particular issue, you are certainly not setting a great example to deal with such situations. Simply ask the individual what the problem is and if there is anything that you can do from your end to help. This gesture will always be appreciated and at times may be just enough to solve the issue.
As a leader, one of your primary responsibilities is to create a robust relationship with your team. This will prompt and encourage them to come forward and have open and honest discussions with you. This can help to deal with issues no sooner than they arise.
If you develop a healthy relationship and build a good rapport with your employees, you should be able to ask direct questions whenever you detect an issue.
2. Display a genuine interest in the overall wellbeing and career progression of your employees. If you do so, your team will be more confident in approaching you knowing that their efforts are not going to go unnoticed. Helping your team within your capacity encourages them to increase their productivity as a gesture of thanks. Organise regular one on one meetings with your team. This ensures both parties are aware of each other’s issues and standpoints. It also helps to strengthen the bond between a manager and team.
3. Set clear milestones. If your employees know and understand what they are working towards, it will be easier for them to plan and manage their effort towards the bigger goal. If you do not set clear goals and milestones, it could result in confusion and lack of direction. When clear-cut smart goals are set, your employees can measure their success as well as complete a milestone ahead of time or go beyond expectations.
4. Reward your employees when they are recognised. Incentives, rewards, gifts or promotions, even a simple appreciation email always creates a certain level of motivation within an individual. Try to set this practice of rewarding employees not only at a department or team level but also at an organisational level. This always improves employee motivation and promotes employee wellbeing.
5. Promote flexible work arrangements. If you develop this practice, you are bound to have satisfied employees around you. Give them simple perks like the flexibility to work from home once in a while, or take conference calls from home or while commuting to work etc. When you offer them these kinds of flexible perks, they are motivated to be more productive at work and take their responsibilities much more seriously.
6. People respect leaders they can trust. If you do not gain the trust of your employees, you will have a tough time motivating them. Trust is not gained in a day. It takes time, consistent communication and transparency. An able leader is one who is open and displays respect and regard for the entire team. Employees feel mentally secure that they can trust their manager and do not hesitate to approach them whenever they face any issues or feel unmotivated.