Motivating Disengaged Employees

blog May 29, 2022

How frustrating is it when you have someone on your team who you know has so much potential, is actually really great at their job and everyone really likes them - but it’s like they are just going through the motions? They get the job done, but only just, they certainly don’t show initiative and you just want to shake them because you know they are capable of so much more, of doing a much better job.


You know they are smart, capable, skilled and you’re frustrated that you’re not seeing their best.


Here's what you’re dealing with when it comes to these people – it’s not that they are lazy – they simply lack motivation.


Why is that your problem you ask? Well, you know how hard it is to find great staff right? So, you don’t want to exit them and have to go through the recruitment process again. Add to that the fact that by proactively working to improve motivation you are actually improving employee engagement – and that can result in a bottom like increase in profits of more than 20% - why wouldn’t you want to fix the problem?


Also, think about what a motivated team is like to spend time with. A motivated team has a great energy, there is momentum, there is a sense of positivity as well as productivity. So wouldn’t you prefer to spend your time with a motivated team rather than an unmotivated one?


Proactively improving motivation amongst your team doesn’t need to be difficult, expensive or time consuming. It really can be quite straight forward, and I’ve got 6 simple but powerful ways you can motivate any disengaged employee on your team.


#1 – Talk Less – Listen More….

Don’t presume like you know why they aren’t motivated or what the problem is, get curious, ask great questions, and most importantly listen! When I say listen, I don’t mean listen to just what they say first time round, I mean listen to tone, to hidden meanings, to opportunities to ask further questions and dig a little deeper.


#2 – Articulate (or re articulate) the Vision

If you hadn’t already noticed, one of the key factors in employees joining organisations and wanting to stay with them, is that they want to feel a sense of purpose, a sense that they are contributing to something more than just financial gains for the boss. You have a vision for why you are in business, and what your company does to serve your customers, but when was the last time you articulated this to your people? Remind them of the vision, why they are there, and how they can contribute to something bigger than themselves and their role.


#3 – Frequent Joint Goal Setting

All employees want to feel a sense of achievement, accomplishment and success in their roles. But if the targets are so far ahead of time that it’s impossible to see a quick win, then it’s hard to stay motivated and on task. Bring in the targets and goals to more management chunks of time, so the employee can see that they can get there, and that they’re making progress towards it every day. Importantly, involve them in the goal setting – we all know we’re more motivated to achieve something that we had a hand in agreeing to achieve.


#4 Recognise and Reward Great Work

This isn’t about expensive bonuses or lavish gifts, and it’s definitely not about expecting them to spend the weekend with you dining out at your expense (hint – most employees hate that – they want to spend their weekends with those that matter to them personally). What this is about though is a simple ‘thank you’ when things go well. So often we are great at pointing out when things aren’t going to plan, but forget to recognise the simple, day to day things going really well.


#5 Create a Welcoming Work Environment

Create a space that people actually want to come to. If you have staff transitioning back to an in office rather than work from home environment, this is especially important. How can you create an environment that is welcoming, conducive to work and productivity and a place people want to come to?


#6 Allow Opportunities for Social Connection

I’m not talking ‘old school’ team bonding activities like paintball or lawn bowls (unless all of your team are into that of course), but create simple ways for the social fabric of your workplace culture to be woven and strengthened. This might mean bringing back Friday drinks, ensuring monthly social lunches continue, or simply allowing time for, and encouraging those casual chats to happen without a watchful eye over them. Everyone likes to feel like they are with ‘their people’ when they are at work, and the social connection is so important to allowing that sense of belonging to develop.


All 6 of these tips and strategies are free, don’t take a lot of time and are not difficult to implement. Yes, there is some deliberate thought involved, and you may need to think laterally and creatively, but I’d say that the results are worth the effort, wouldn’t you?


An invitation:
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