10 ways to destroy your team’s motivation

demotivated staffWe all define what a motivated workplace looks like differently so what does a motivated workplace look like to you?

For some, it’s about the commitment to the results and employees taking responsibility for their actions, and for others it’s about open communication and collaboration. Some organisations define a motivated work environment around problem solving, creativity and ingenuity while others focus on low employee turnover and excellent levels of customer service.

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And what about a demotivated workplace? What does that look like to you? Does it include a lack of collaboration and creativity, high staff turnover, bored employees, high levels of mistakes and poor customer service?

What motivates us all can be as different as how we define a motivated workplace. However, if you want to demotivate your workforce, then there’s plenty of common ground. Here’s how you do it:


1. Compare employees to each other

Comparisons between employees are unfair, and will often create unhealthy competition among colleagues, hard feelings and bitterness. Telling your employees how brilliant their co-workers are or how their sales are the lowest in the team will only ever demotivate your employee.


2. Play favourites

Asking the same team members to meetings, to provide feedback on an idea, or giving recognition and praise regularly to the same individual creates frustration amongst others who don’t feel they are one of their manager’s favourites. Not only that, you’ll also create disengaged employees who don’t care about their work.


3. Drown employees in paperwork

The harder it is to get things done or approved the more you can demotivate your employees. Making tasks complicated and time-consuming by requiring reports and updates at every stage will kill any momentum and enthusiasm your employees have.


keeping employees in the dark4. Keep employees in the dark

Who has time to share information with employees? Keeping information to yourself means that employees will make up their own version of events or start believing the office grapevine, and that can result in suspicion, mistrust and fear.


5. Play the blame game

Playing the blame game is one of the most destructive human traits, and blaming employees when things go wrong stifles risk-taking, creativity and problem solving. Besides, it can create a disrespectful, negative working environment.

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6. Require everything to be approved

Micro-managing your employees and requiring your approval for every task they undertake is a sign that you don’t trust the people you’ve hired to do their job properly. It’s an instant motivation killer and morale destroyer.


7. Tell employees they’re doing OK (but not great)

Telling your employees that they are doing only OK is a great way to put the brakes on motivated employees and make them stop caring about the quality of their work.



8. Change plans for no reason

Employees need some time to understand goals and what is needed to achieve those goals. By changing tack for no good reason, you can create an unsettled, uncaring workforce.


9. Talk about your team members behind their backs

Talking about your employees behind their back, and sharing information about them, to your peers and their co-workers is a great way to drive employees away. It also creates mistrust and suspicion as employees wonder what you say about them behind their back.


10. Set the bar too high

To really demoralise and demotivate your team make sure that you set unreachable goals and targets. It won’t make your employees work harder, instead once they realise the target can’t be met it will ensure that your employees give up trying to achieve it and productivity will nosedive.



John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.
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