Think of that day when all your employees decide not to work for you again, your most valuable assets! Most employee de-motivators do not seep into your corporate culture overnight and can often be difficult to eliminate. They can cause workers to reduce; consciously or unconsciously, the amount of creative and productive energy they use in their jobs. Here are five employee de-motivators that managers should look out for and address in their organizations.

  • Poor communication culture:

Has it occurred to you that communication is probably not the best in your organization?

Departing staff, at exit interviews with me, had referred to this variously: Some say, “they (referring to their managers) take us for granted.” Others put it mildly that they get “little or no feedback from my boss.” Yet others, as echoed by a female departing employee, say they didn’t “feel recognized for all the hard work we’re doing here – we don’t matter.” All employees need constructive feedback and direction to know how they are doing and they expect to be acknowledged when they do something good or right. Monetary rewards may never equal the recognition which one can get in front of a group of people. Some managers just fail to realize that this is the cheapest and most e­fficient form of keeping employees motivated.

Patronizing people at the workplace and criticizing others in the open is bad communication. Condescending remarks hurt and contribute to an atmosphere of destructive conflict. Though some managers think public reproach keeps everyone else from making the same mistake—it usually just makes everyone feel bad.

  • Too much workload:

Excessive workload is among the issues raised by some of my departing employees. Make no mistake; these were no lazy people. Indeed, I had great respect for some of those marketing staff. They simply cried out the feeling of “being overburdened with a disproportionate chunk of work” which rendered them unable to perform their duties well and timeously. I have personally come to understand that too much work with little time to explore your natural abilities can kill the morale of employees.

  • Lack of clarity in work:

Are your employees struggling at work due to lack of unclear expectations? I encounter this complaint not so often from departing employees as from employee ‘victims’ of performance appraisals. Their line managers often did their part, and from the HR perspective, I tried to dive deeper to establish the root cause of the poor performance. There were merits in some of the cases: Hazy job pro‑les – no clear KRA’s/Key Performance Indicators (KPI), no SMART targets – were the root causes. Another dimension of unclear expectation case was a marketing staff who voiced his frustration – “they ask us to bring in customers with deposits and when we succeed in bringing them they don’t offer good rates; I don’t know what they want us to do.”

  • Favoritism:

Here, I am referring to perceived unfair practices that favor one worker over another. Perhaps, this is what I have heard most frequently, not only at exit interviews, but also in the ‘stay interviews’ I conducted informally to understand why some good people still remained with us in the face of the rampant poaching. Having worked with people for so long, I discovered that humans have a built-in “fairness metre” that assesses things, not on their own basis, but in relationship to others. When we feel that we are being treated unfairly at the workplace, we tend to lose our drive to go out and produce. Organizations often strive to achieve objectivity in their talent management approaches but some managers do a very poor job of administering in a manner that is really fair or perceived as being fair.

  • Micromanaging people:

This is possibly one of the worst de-motivators for me. Every employee needs some space, needs to feel trusted and valued to succeed – micromanaging communicates the exact opposite. Some managers just don’t let things go and cannot trust other people at all. They will insist on managing every aspect of a project, and looking over your shoulder all day. This often leads to lack of motivation because the employee will feel as though they are not getting enough recognition and room to grow professionally. It is an organization’s responsibility to keep check on such managers and make an environment conducive for growth.


De-motivated workers are inherently less productive and over time, will display low morale and job satisfaction. It is necessary to help your employees be happier doing their jobs. Simple motivational techniques can be employed by managers to accomplish this: Listen and get involved; promote teamwork; praise and encourage; give information freely; show concern and extend help whenever possible. BY JOSEPH KUUKPEN


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