What Not To Do When You\’Re Trying To Motivate Your Team

A 10-year study of more than 200,000 employees shows that 79% of employees who quit their jobs cite a lack of appreciation as a key reason, and according to Gallup’s 2017 “State of the American Workplace” report, only 21% agree their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work. During a break from an executive team meeting I was facilitating, I watched one executive say to his direct report, “Just so you know, I was telling the big boss and his team this morning what an amazing job you’re doing,” and then give him what appeared to be an “I’ve got your back” wink. Whether these made-up stories are well-intended or not, they erode the employee’s trust in the leader. Nothing affirms an employee’s great work more than a leader saying, “That was amazing. Tell me how you did it?” By asking for, and listening intently to, the story behind an accomplishment, you acknowledge that the contribution is an extension of its contributor and help them feel that they, and their work, really matter. Employees lower in an organization often can’t see how their efforts contribute to broader strategies. Say a manager gets his team to adopt a new technology platform as part of a beta test. Most employees hide any struggle that accompanied their efforts for fear of looking weak or incompetent.


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