Motivational Blunders – How to Avoid ill-advised Motivation

Opportunities motivate, threats won’t. By means of opening opportunities, instead of pushing the negative all the time, you can move your employees into a more positive work environment. A good supervisor doesn’t have to be soft on their employees or a pushover. You can be stiff but only take proper action when necessary.

Most employees are familiar that certain actions will cause notes to go into their employee file. Once the policies are handed down to employees, they are then accountable for their own actions. If a violation occurs, note down in their file, and after positive reinforcement turns your employee around, note that in their file as improvement.

Then, don’t forget to give that employee a pat on the back and let them know that you identify their improvement. Good managing means good people skills.

Actively listening to what your employees are saying and being tuned in to their emotions and feelings can go a long way in making you a manager that employees enjoy working for.

Threats by Manager

Usually threats are subtle and can be hinted at the time of a conversation. Managers should be careful to, not attack an employee in person. This not only creates trouble in the workplace but stress for the whole team. In my case, my manager finally took a small infraction of a “standard” and used it to skip disciplinary steps and fire me.

Luckily, I was a union member and the union did get my job back. I asked for a different manager as a condition to coming back to work, and from then on, had no other problems with work performance or sickness keeping me from work.

Managers that hold threats over their employees are convinced they can make their employees more productive by using threats of job loss or loss of opportunity to advance. These negative motivators may work a little bit but in the end, they will fail.

A manager may not think they are using misguided motivation but what is important to remember is how the employee hears what the manager is saying. The manager may think they are being informal but the employee has been conditioned to hear only negative speech, and so they will hear only negative speech coming from the manager.

Bonus programs can also be turned into misguided motivations such as annual reviews that decide if an employee will earn a bonus or affect their pay scale.

When you are listening to your manager or supervisor and they begin talking about something that may have happened six months or longer before your review, yearly reviews can be disheartening. Those items should have been addressed directly and immediately.

Waiting for an annual review can discourage employees and have a negative effect on their future performance.

I’m focusing on the business aspect of motivation since I have been on both sides. I’ve been a manager and I’ve been a team member working with a manager. The manager I liked working for was a positive motivator. Motivation is related to our emotions.

When I came in to work and there is a little note on my desk, thanking me for the extra effort I put in the day before, I tried to stay at that level of production. I accepted the effort it took to leave the note, and I appreciated that I was recognized as a valuable part of the team.

On the other hand, I also worked for a manager that was constantly standing over my shoulder ready to catch me in any little mistake. I felt I was under a regular microscope and dreaded coming to work each day. This sequentially, led to physical and emotional problems that made the situation even tenser.

Threats are a ill-advised motivational tool. The manager I had difficulty with would always end our “guidance sessions” with the words. “Any repeat of that action could be used as reason for your dismissal.” Wow! Do you think that motivated me to come to work the next day? What it did was put more pressure to perform to standards that were unrealistic and add even more pressure to my work situation.

Threats can be passed down from a higher level and its then up to the manager to challenge their employees to go up to the occasion with positive motivation.

Threats that are jointly targeted to the entire workforce more often will have a negative effect than a positive one. Threats of withheld bonuses, pay cuts, and shortened hours resulting in smaller paychecks are frightening.

Misguided motivation can lead to as much damage as positive motivation. Misguided managers and business leaders can use motivation as a positive or negative means of getting the wanted performance for their employees. Managers are often trapped in the middle of being the buffer zone flanked by upper management and employees.



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