Employee motivation is a tricky world. How many times have we heard a boss say, ‘If that is not on my desk by the end of day Friday, you can kiss your job goodbye.” Yes, the blatant threat is one of the worst employee motivation tactics, as it inspires most employees to dump the project into the trash and walk out the door. Employer threats do nothing more than alienate employees by creating a hostile work environment. Most of us understand that threats from the boss comprise one of the worst employee motivation tactics, but what about other less discussed motivation tactics that fall flat in front of disgruntled employees.
Rah-Rah Equals Blah-Blah
Many managers implement cheerleading tactics to motivate their employees. They believe that by pumping their fists and yelling worthless catchphrases that employees respond with energy and passion for their jobs. However, cheerleading grates on most employees, as they perceive the rah-rah exhortations of their bosses as childish ploys that only work on high school soccer fields. Whether you work in a service environment or inside of a large corporate infrastructure, you can expect meetings to take place that attempt to ramp of enthusiasm before shifts or projects begin. Hopefully, your manager avoids using cheerleading words like “Awesome,” “Teamwork,” and “Cool.”
Speaking of Teamwork
At some point in the evolution of business, someone came up with the idea that teamwork means everything to the survival of an organization. Managers attend numerous seminars and workshops on how to build productive teams and maximize employee motivation.
What a crock.
Most employees refuse to work hard for over zealous bosses who shove teamwork down their throats multiple times a day. Motivated workers want some level of autonomy to perform within the team framework. Teamwork building exercises only produce employee insults like “This is Stupid” and “What a waste of my time.” Assign project responsibilities to each member of the team and watch the team grow.
Negative Reinforcement Leads to Anarchy
Unfortunately, many bosses have watched one too many army recruiting videos when it comes to motivating their employees. On the opposite side of the motivation spectrum from the cheerleader, the boss who provides negative reinforcement typically sees a significant drop in employee morale. Employees do not respond to threats, cajoling, and derisive remarks. Screaming at workers went out of style at the turn of the 20th century. In fact, negative reinforcement causes a rapid decline in productivity, as employees decide to ride the clock.
Money…Not All What it’s Cracked Up to Be
Financial incentives do have a positive impact on employee motivation. Employees want to reach sales goals and production quotas to earn bonuses for their hard work. Yet, money can have an adverse effect on employee motivation. What happens when an employee expects a bonus for hard work, but ends up with a pocket full of lint? That employee immediately sees that hard worked does not pay. Money can be a great motivator, but often cash turns enthusiastic employees into unmotivated malcontents. Simply hanging a money stick in front of employees is one of the worst employee motivation tactics.
You can avoid the worst employee motivation tactics by working for businesses and organizations that foster healthy work environments. Companies that reward, recognize, and provide advancement opportunities typically motivate their employees to exceed high performance standards.