Enjoy my work …. Are you kidding? This is a fairly typical reaction from some of us all of the time, and from all of us, some of the time. Everyone has some aspects of their job which they find challenging, difficult, boring or perhaps threatening. Most of us manage to rationalise this within the bigger picture and to trade off the less attractive aspects of work against the greater benefits that it brings.
However, if you consider that the average employee spends more than 40% of their waking time, working, during their years in full time work, if anyone is constantly demotivated, they are not only ruining their own lives, but guess what?, they tend to be unproductive at best, and downright disruptive at worst. These are the staff who will often cost your company time and money through absenteeism, lost opportunities, and potentially loss of business.
Some of the factors which lead to disengagement are:-
- Lack of recognition of the individual:
- Lack of congruence with the culture and values demonstrated in the workplace
- Inability or no willingness to listen to employee issues
- Bad working relationships
- Micro-management, or at the other end of the scale, lack of interest.
- Poor systems of target setting, appraisal and feedback
So what action can managers take to unearth employee levels of motivation and to take avoiding or corrective action?
- Be authentic: – Represent the values that you espouse. Don’t preach the virtues of hard work and spend too much time on the golf course. It is no use fostering an image as a customer friendly organisation, unless these values are replicated within the workplace. Be honest. If you have bad news to deliver, do your best to explain why a certain course of action is necessary, and be sure that there is a channel for feedback. Do what you can to take staff alternative suggestions into account in these situations.
- Take an interest: – Every member of staff has an individual story. Take the time to enquire about their family, their feelings, their ambitions, and to listen to their suggestions. When you can, congratulate, say thank you, or where appropriate, offer support or sympathy. Don’t feign interest. Better to show no interest at all than to pretend, as you will always be found out.
- Get feedback: - Foster the skills of Active Listening. Using Stephen Covey’s maxim, ‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood’ (The Seven Habits of highly effective people) Use these skills to listen to staff at all levels, not just your direct reports.
- Have a good system of appraisal:- Don’t use the annual appraisal system merely to hand down targets. You should be doing more listening than talking, and make sure you create an atmoshphere where the employee can open up. For this reason we believe that salary and or bonus discussions should be separate from the annual appraisal.
- Delegate:- Delegation does not mean abrogation of responsibility, but it does mean trusting your staff to perform and it does require a hands off approach, particularly where you think that you know better. (Often you don’t!) Do set goals for your team, but give them latitude in how they achieve those goals. Use a coaching style to elicit the best from your team. Above all do not micro-manage this is one of the chief complaints that staff have about bad bosses.
- Have fun:- Don’t be too pompous to have a laugh, and to allow people to laugh at your expense. If you are the first to admit to mistakes and thus recognize that nobody is perfect, least of all you, then you are more likely to have their trust. Try to find ways to build in time for fun and relaxation, even when times are busiest. This will repay you a thousand-fold as staff will respond by going the extra mile when you need them to.
- Remember the quote from Maya Angelou, “ I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” So when you are talking to your colleagues, particularly in a one on one meeting, make sure you give them absolute focus, no matter how many other matters are clamouring for your attention.
Check out the good people from the Seattle fish market enjoying their work:-
Interested in finding out more about enjoying your work? Email us!