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The 6 Best Practices to Kill Employee Motivation and Engagement

The 6 Best Practices to Kill Employee Motivation and Engagement

I challenge anyone reading this article to find a single organization that wants lower employee motivation and engagement. Yet, you can find hundreds of articles and studies that indicate both are on the downslide. In current times of leaner employment, management continually tries to squeeze more and more out of each employee. This squeezing process can last for a short while, but is not sustainable long-term. Eventually the system, the employee, or both will break. Take this quiz to see if you are excelling at killing employee motivation and engagement. On a regular basis, do you (or your manager) provide:

1. Deficient Communication

According to a study conducted several years ago by Magna Leadership Solutions, the number-one problem recognized by both management and employees is communication. Usually, the communication is insufficient or improper. If you are a good boss, most employees enjoy more face time with you, especially when it is positive. Some employees just want some communication that can be accomplished face-to-face, on the phone, through a note, or even in a short email. A good rule of thumb is that if the communication could elicit emotion (positive or negative) from the receiver, then face-to-face (or at least a phone call) is most appropriate. For communications that are more transactional, the other, less-personal forms of communication may be sufficient.

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2. Insufficient Encouragement

In his book “Breakthrough Performance,” author Bill Daniels stresses the importance of providing encouragement that is specific, pure, positive, immediate, frequent and irregular. One key thing I’ve learned as a manager is that providing insufficient encouragement is among the two top ways to ensure you’re killing your employees’ motivation and engagement. The next section outlines the other one.

3. Inappropriate Advice

These six rules also come from Bill Daniels. Advice should: address the change desired, be current (only focus on now, don’t bring in history), be pure (no “buts”), be delivered just before it can be used (not after, or it will be viewed as punishment), be limited, and ask for feedback. Breaking any one or more of these rules will lessen or negate the impact and results of the advice. In addition, advice and encouragement should always be delivered separately, or it sends a mixed message and will be viewed as punishment.

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4. Inadequate Rewards

I am not telling you that all accomplishments need to be extrinsically rewarded. It is important that well-done accomplishments, which are above and beyond what is expected, do receive the appropriate level of compensation in some form. Learn what you employees want and reward them in a way that they most appreciate.

5. Too Much Team Recognition

This one may seem less intuitive. People like recognition, but when it is blanketed over a team (and individual contributions are minimized), it may be more detrimental than no recognition at all. As work has become more and more complex, getting work or projects accomplished in teams as become the norm. The increased speed of communication — thanks to computers, mobile devices and the increased bandwidth of wired and wireless communications — have made it easier than ever to get anything, from anywhere and from anyone. To combat the team recognition problem, the recognition should be appropriate for the level of individual contribution —which means do your homework up-front on defining expectations, and continuously monitor individual and team performance. If you decide to deliver team recognition and there is an additional level of individual recognition needed, you may want to deliver this privately first.

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6. Rationed Resources

As we reduce our resources (people, funding, equipment, training, etc.), we need to ensure that the short-term financial change is not causing longer-term problems that often cannot be reversed. Downsizing and cost-cutting has been the modus operandi for many organizations for the past 10+ years, if not longer. Today, management continues to try to squeeze that last drop of blood out of every stone until something breaks. One of the primary functions of management is to be a resource, or provide resources, to support the employees’ and the organization’s success. How did you do on the quiz? We are caught up in our day-to-day activities and expect to have employee engagement on autopilot. One manager I coached told me “The employees know what they have to do. They are getting paid aren’t they? And I’m not their mother.” This is a very Machiavellian approach thinking about employees as disposable resources. In times with lean job opportunities, this management approach may survive. As we are seeing hundreds of thousands of new jobs being created each month and unemployment on a steady decline since 2010, it is becoming a seller’s (employee) market. Your unmotivated and disengaged employees are or will be out looking for a better environment to work in. Take the first step by quickly removing one or more of the six practices that kill motivation and engagement from your workplace. The workforce will thank you for it.

Featured photo credit: Photo by Marc Lombardi via marclombardi.zenfolio.com

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More by this author

Dr. Kevin Gazzara

Senior partner at Magna Leadership Solutions

The 10 Leadership Lessons We Can all Learn from Giraffes The 6 Best Practices to Kill Employee Motivation and Engagement 7 Critical Statements Every Manager Should Avoid To Be More Respectable 12 Ways to Identify a High-Maintenance Employee 8 Deadly Traps that Cause Our Failures to Accomplish Everyday Work

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

11 Tips for Maintaining a Positive Attitude Every Day

11 Tips for Maintaining a Positive Attitude Every Day

Maintaining a positive attitude is critical when you want to achieve anything or simply improve the quality of your life. Most success literature will talk about the power of positive thinking and how important it is, but it’s often easier said than done.

In this article, you’ll find 11 tips for maintaining your positive attitude no matter what’s going on in your life.

1. You Determine Your Reality

It’s important to realize that you determine your reality by the way you react to the outside world. When something happens, you get to choose whether it’s a positive or negative situation and react accordingly.

For example, if you lose your job, your first reaction will likely be one of anger, frustration, and hopelessness. However, what if you were able to turn those emotions around and look at that experience as an opportunity.

You now have the chance to find a job where you will be able to learn new skills and perhaps even be happier. And in the meantime, you have some free time to analyze what direction you want the next stage of your life to go in.

2. Start Your Day Strong

Most people have to drag themselves out of bed, and this sets a negative state of mind for their entire day. Positive people create a long-term morning ritual that reinforces how great life is and how happy they are to be alive.

I used to wake up and immediately turn on Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life to get me into a positive mood. Now I start my day by reading or listening to something positive. Whether you have 1 minute, 15 minutes, or an hour to dedicate to your ritual, you can start the day in a way that helps you feel relaxed and ready for the day ahead.

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Cultivate a positive attitude with a great morning routine.

    3. Exercise Is the Natural Feel-Good Drug

    Exercise is a great way to maintain a good attitude because of all the positive chemicals it releases into the bloodstream.

    One study found that between groups who participated in high-intensity interval training, moderate continuous training, and no exercise, those in the second group experienced the greatest drop in depressive symptoms and stress[1]. Therefore, if you’re looking to exercise to help you feel good, get your heart rate up, but don’t push too hard or you may increase overall stress.

    Also, remember that exercise can include many activities. If you don’t like running, try dancing or kickboxing instead. Put on some upbeat music to kick up the positive vibes even more.

    4. Use Books, Audio and Videos to Overload Your Brain with Positivity

    There are millions of amazing books, podcasts, and videos for you to absorb from people who are inspiring and living the life of their dreams. Tap into their positive emotions and their experience by learning how they think and what they do to create the lives they want.

    You can do this in the morning or while exercising, eating, commuting, cooking, cleaning… there’s always time for positivity.

    5. Your Language Shapes Your Thoughts

    Little changes in your language can change the way you think and how you act. Whenever someone greets you and asks how you’re doing, do you answer with “fine” or “not too bad”? Think about just what this language is communicating to others… and yourself.

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    I always answer with “great,” “fantastic,” or “amazing.” Not only does this remind me that life really is great, but it usually helps the other person shift toward a positive attitude as well.

    Also, take some time to look at the way your inner voice talks to you. Is that language positive or negative? If it’s overly critical or negative, it may be time to tap into some mindfulness meditation in order to shift your inner critic to an inner cheerleader.

    6. Hang out With Positive People

    It is often said that you will have a similar level of health, income and lifestyle as the five people you spend the most time with.

    So if you want to be fit, then start to hang out with fit people. Want to start a business? Then hang out with business owners. And if you want to be positive, make sure you’re hanging out with positive people[2].

    7. Show Your Appreciation for Others

    By appreciating others for a job well done, their outfit, or their smile, you start to cause a positive chain reaction. Stop complaining and focus on all the good others are doing around you.

    Don’t you feel great when you receive a compliment from someone else? Well, if you want to receive more, then start giving them out and watch what happens to the people around you.

    One particular study found that people who sent letters of gratitude experienced significant increases in happiness scores[3]. If you don’t feel like writing a letter, send a nice text to someone who recently helped you out, or send an email thanking your coworker for always helping pick up the slack around the office. Whatever it is, take some time to show gratitude.

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    8. Garbage In, Garbage Out

    This is an expression from programming where the result is only as good as the input. If you’re feeding yourself with negativity all day long, then it’s pretty obvious you’re going to be feeling negative as well.

    A great deal of the media thrives on negativity. Put yourself on a negativity diet (including people) and watch how much easier it is to maintain your positive attitude.

    9. Stop Negative Thoughts in Their Tracks

    It’s hard to be a constantly positive person, and negative thoughts are going to bubble up from time to time. These will be more frequent in the beginning but can decrease as you practice the tips we’re talking about. When you start to notice negative thoughts, you can use a pattern interrupt to stop them in their tracks.

    The idea is to interrupt your current thought pattern and shift to a more positive outlook. One way to do this is to set a visual or auditory cue. It can be something as simple as a bracelet you wear each day or the sound of a car passing outside your window. Whenever you see or hear the cue, use it to shift your thoughts to something positive.

    You can learn more on how to shift your mindset and negative attitudes in the following video:

    10. Live With Gratitude

    So many positive things happen during our day, and we often ignore them while letting one negative comment or event ruin our mood. It can help to keep a gratitude journal where you jot down things you are grateful for each night or during the day.

    If you’re reading this, then you probably live with a roof over your head and food in your belly, which is a daily struggle for a large portion of the world. However, we often take these things for granted and don’t realize just how great we have it.

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    Try refocusing your thoughts towards everything you do have instead of what you don’t. One study found that reflecting on past experiences with a sense of gratitude can lead to increases in both hope and happiness[4]. That’s a great reason to give it a go today.

    You can find more ways to practice gratitude in this article.

    11. Recharge Your Batteries

    One key to adopting a positive attitude is taking the time to recharge your batteries. This might mean taking a few hours on the weekend to read a positive book or taking a few weeks for a holiday.

    If you’re not in the position to travel, you can take a staycation, or have a “home holiday” where you simply switch off from the outside world and spend time doing things you love.

    Final Thoughts

    You now have 11 tips for maintaining your positive attitude, but they are no use to you unless you implement them into your life.

    Start small, and pick the easiest tip or the one that you really love and introduce it into your life starting right now. Then, over time, start implementing the other tips and watch your positivity soar.

    More Tips About Staying Positive

    Featured photo credit: Pepe Cast Zam via unsplash.com

    Reference

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