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Guest Blog: Stop Trying to Motivate Your Employees

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Dr. Anthony Kenneson-Adams from Project 7 discusses why it is important for leaders to find the behaviors they are doing that demotivate their teams.

STOP? Surely that’s a typo in the title?

In fact, no typo; completely intentional. My question is, why would you need to motivate your employees?

You employed the right people, didn’t you? They were motivated to accept your offer of employment, weren’t they?  When they walked through your front door on day one, they were motivated to do well, were they not? So, why do you now need to spend time, money, and energy on motivating them?

It’s not the role of leadership to motivate their employees but rather to identify the leadership behaviors that are actually demotivating them. And no, this is not semantics. Contingent on having employed the right people in the first place, staff are self-motivated, and if their leadership provides a climate that engages them, meets their needs, and provides the career paths that they are looking for, then they will stay motivated. Thirty years serving in HM forces taught me that, and in many companies in my 14 years in civilian life, I have had that opinion reinforced.

What I have learnt is that it’s the actions and inactions of leadership that demotivates staff. As a consultant, I sometimes hear business owners say that their staff needs to be re-motivated. This needs to be reframed as it’s my experience that sometimes businesses hire the right people but then turn them into the wrong people, at which point they lose the motivation that they brought with them to the job.

So, if you have a problem with staff motivation, look inward and not outward.

If you have demotivated staff, what can you do today to provide a culture that will sustain the motivation your people had when they first walked through your front door?

Dr. Anthony Kenneson-Adams is a partner and head of learning and knowledge at Project 7. He has expertise training, mentoring, and coaching senior executives to shop floor leaders in customer focused leadership of operational excellence and organisational development. He is recognized for building self-sustaining Lean and 6 Sigma cultures that engage leaders and teams to excel as corporate citizens. If you are interested in understanding in learning how to maintain a culture of motivation, you can connect with him on LinkedIn.