Category Archives: Management and Workplace

E-mails: 10 ways they kill office productivity


Technology has advanced greatly and has contributed to efficiencies aplenty. But like most things under the sun, it has two sides.

So in this article, I pick one side. Let us look at one of those impactful results of technology that have a subtle derailing flipside especially in terms of workplace productivity.

The e-mail.

This is one area of technological development that has made communication far much easier than the days of old. But it has also led to a knock on productivity simply because of how it is managed. Or perhaps how it manages those that use it.

Let us review 10 of such resultant areas.

1. A clogged mailbox

The modern day corporate environment is very e-mail intensive. A day or a few away from the office without connectivity leads to a flooded mailbox. This immediately means by the time you download mails, you are thrown into a catchup mode as you sift through to determine which ones need to be prioritised.

In essence, you are already thrown off and laying aside something else you perhaps ought to be doing which may well be more important.

2. A clean inbox?

Related to the clogged mailbox is an unmistakable urge to clear the mailbox. This happens one of two ways. Others prefer not to have any unread mails (I’m very much in this category… Unread mails give me a rash!!!). The other lot simply make it a point to clear their mailbox by archiving. Either way time is taken for each activity. This is time worth channeling towards some things more productive.

3. Management by “cc”

Everyone in the workplace seems to have an uncanny need to justify their value and contribution. There is one set of determined people that use the e-mail to achieve this end, knowingly or otherwise.

This is mainly done by always keeping your seniors in copy of mails you send even when all it does is clog their box with mundane daily issues. This distracts you and the recipient either way.

You want to prove you are working, “showing” that you are following through on actions or playing tough where necessary….in most cases to impress hence the need to copy your boss. On the other hand, the recipient depending on style or self worth will be under pressure to respond or show reaction so the boss notes that too.

The consequence of this is energy and effort all directed on non-value adding activities or issues driven by egotistic fuel. It takes tact and maturity to know what communication your boss needs be looped in.

4. Cut the walk

It is hard to determine whether e-mails have fuelled laziness or some just have just taken to abusing it. Simple things that in the past would be taken care of with ease and word of mouth now are flying via e-mail.

When someone needs a pen or stationery, they will send an e-mail even when the person to help is within the same office or building. People just won’t walk to desks or other offices any more. That is why we now see chasers on mails sent like “have you seen my e-mail?” And yet these will be to people in the same building.

5. Showcasing

E-mail has now become a documented weapon for some. We have those people that generate mails simply as a way of showing or creating an impression that they are working.

In some cases, this is also done as a means to expose others where they have lagged or got a foot wrong. One is therefore quick to capture this in an e-mail as a trophy of their hard work, vigilance and exposure of the other.

Depending on the seniors you have, it’s so easy to see through all this. More progress and learning can happen when people engage and exchange valuable conversations or insights on issues and experiences rather than a chain of e-mails to showcase oneself at the expense of another.

6. Enemy of accountability

There is another trend that seems to have diluted the sense of accountability. The lack of follow through.

It is not uncommon these days for one to send an e-mail and believe their part is done. When progress or the lack of it is questioned at some point, the perfect response is almost always that “I sent you an e-mail”. Sending an e-mail is not a guarantee that it will be read as a priority or looked at immediately.

So for anything time or delivery bound and dependent on that sent e-mail, following through is never such a bad idea. Both parties will and must be held accountable for delivery or the lack of it.

7. Glued to the workstation

As highlighted in point 4, people have simply cut off walking the floor. Most of us find ourselves rooted at our workstations punching away at the keyboard.

Even the simple discussions we would have including spontaneous brainstorming no longer happen much because our energies are largely expended on the impersonal e-mail. There is a lot of value to be derived from personal and informal engagement, many unconventional solutions found to some commonplace work issues too.

Take a break from those e-mails. Stroll around, pick up the phone and talk to people.

8. Stifling thoughts and ideas

When not handled professionally or without thought, e-mail can be detrimental to open communication.

There usually is a high likelihood for misunderstanding or reading a tone that is genuinely not there.

This then works to close out creativity, originality, flow of thoughts and ideas that people may want to bring out. Simply because a response will have sounded like a “shut up” cue. It therefore is critical that such a faceless mode of communication is used with clarity and tact so as to foster openness as may be required.

9. Decision and progress block

At times, decisions are held back and progress stalled. This is especially in cases where you have people that are poor when it comes to reading e-mails. Correspondingly when you also have people that are simply pathetic with following up where a decision and progress is dependent on a response.

All is delayed as long as it remains stuck in someone’s e-mail box. A call or walk to a desk, where possible, may be of more benefit than a simple e-mail without follow up.

10. Time

Simply put, an e-mail requires time to put together. If you are to be clear and also professional, there is some time needed to put one together. As a result, with all the e-mails that fly around in the workplace these days, a decent amount of time is spent on e-mails without full realisation of the impact.

What one can get done with a few spoken words will instead need some keyboard crunching and thinking. Quite some time to waste if it can be managed differently.

I have now deliberately started disconnecting my e-mails for certain portions of the day so I can spend time on other things my work demands. Failure to do this has posed a challenge as mails pop in at jet speed.

Is it not time you looked at how you are managing your e-mails or the converse? There may just be some time, energy and productivity saved there.


10 tips on managing difficult team members


Most of us have at one point in our careers endured the frustration of managing difficult employees, those team members that just seem impossible. Or perhaps we have ourselves been the difficult team members that make people management an agonizing undertaking.

So if you have such members in your team, how do you get past the dilemma of keeping them in your team and them becoming a source of your workplace stress?

This article shares some tips to consider based on my personal managerial experience and observation of other people managers over the years. Highly likely, there are more that we all have to share.

1. Don’t focus on the “difficult”

This may appear the harder part of the challenge since the issue has to do with a team member labelled difficult. On the flip-side, there also is a solution in the “difficult” part. The more your energy is on how this person is difficult, the more your attention will only be locked on that aspect. You know the challenge so let it not be a drain. Instead work out where this person fits into your plan, team and vision. Afterall if they are a part of the team, you may as well derive some value from them.

2. Engage and involve

The natural inclination when we have someone “difficult” in our team is to sideline them. That however does not change anything because these members remain part of the team we are responsible for. As such, we get to a point where we must take a deliberate decision on where they fit into our plans.

One of the most effective ways is to engage these team members and assign tasks or responsibilities to them. In this way, they have no idle time to be spectators and critics. Instead, they become a part of the “other side” which is always exploring solutions and progress for the good of the total entity. They assume responsibility which requires them to deliver as per expectations or else be exposed as contributors to failure and the lack of progress attributed to negativity.

3. Facts, facts and facts

Most of the negative sentiment in the work place derives its fuel from speculation. What toxic team members share as their views or source of authority is usually subjective. When a manager also reacts or responds in the same manner, that is speculatively and subjectively, the negativity is perpetuated.

It therefore becomes imperative that a manager takes a position or makes statements on the basis of fact. This objectivity is critical to suffocate any degree of bias, prejudice or subjectivity. That way, the negative or difficult team member is handicapped when it comes to furthering their agenda of disruption and retrogressive influence. This inevitably also does not give any lifeline to team members that want to fuel “corridor talk” and distract other team members that would rather be focussed on progress.

4. Make your own assessment

Most times the challenge we face is that of judging based on what we have been told. There are always various voices and opinions about individuals, their past, abilities and potential. If this forms the basis of our interaction with the “difficult” team members, we find that our stance often will be prejudiced.

It therefore becomes imperative that even as we take views, we must also formulate our own about the team members. In the end, as managers we have the liberty to determine how we handle our team and all aspects of delivering through them. Our independent assessment then makes it clear what value we can derive from these team members and how they contribute to our overall plan for the unit.

It may well be amusing how much we can benefit from difficult team members if we ascertain what value they potentially can add if managed tactfully.

5. Set expectations

One challenge managers face when handling difficult team members is that of none or unclear expectations. This is always a window for the negative team members to get the attention that allows them to be toxic.

It must be very explicit from the onset what team members are expected to deliver on and this should not be in dispute but well understood on both sides. Further, the “reward” of non-delivery or poor performance must equally be known so there is no reason for uncertainty or bleak interpretation of things.

This actually is not just for difficult team members. It is important for every manager to be clear what they expect and share these with their team. In this way, there will be no opportunity to hide any retrogressive behavior or negative attitude usually associated with difficult team members.

6. Be consistent

When managers have set rules or standards, they must also be seen to respect these set of values. This is cardinal in order to build confidence and respect in the handling of their staff. This usually comes to the fore when dealing with disciplinary or reward issues.

Managers must never be seen to have favourites or compromise themselves in the way they discharge their function. There are cases where managers let relationships, fondness and emotions dictate how staff are handled. In some cases, even contrary opinion offered by staff can be taken as personal for those not in good standing with the manager.

Failure to handle this well gives a difficult team member impetus to hold onto their negativity believing they are justified. After-all the “boss” has his own preferred people and views. This lifeline is cut off when such staff realise the manager has offered the same platform to all and the consistency is evident.

7. Ignore them

Difficult team members thrive on attention. When they get it, they remain relevant and can easily woo the weaker members of the team if allowed to do so.

To curb this and mitigate the impact of this negativity, a manager must also determine not to give attention to these team members. This must however be handled with tact. Ignoring does not mean not paying attention to their influence or efforts that distract teamwork and collective progress.

A manager simply takes a position not to entertain the counter-progressive contribution of such team members. Once they realise they are not getting the attention they anticipated, it may just force them into introspection and perhaps even a sobering appreciation of their waning influence on other vulnerable team members.

8. Suffocate the support system

Related to the point above, this would then work effectively to cut off any support system that endorses their relevance. Once a difficult team member knows they do not exert as much influence as they did, they are forced to rethink their contribution and place in the overall scheme of things.

One of the other ways to make this possible is winning over their “supporters”. When the weaker team members appreciate their potential, the overall corporate pursuit and how negativity works against this, they are likely to turn around. This cuts off the life support that gives the difficult team member a constituency.

So instead of facing them head on, a manager must simply engage and win over the team members that form the support system which sustains the difficult team member’s agenda. In time, they become irrelevant and will note that it leaves them with only one of two options. To turn around and change or face extinction and exit.

9. Mutual respect

Without doubt, such team members are energy sapping and no team needs them. However, a manager must never be seen to take the extreme approach of chiding them or disrespecting them.

Instead, it is more effective to offer respect to these team members. That works like a heap of hot coal on their heads. A manager must strive to see beyond what is seen and said. That way, even strengths can be appreciated and tasks assigned on that basis in an attempt to bring out the best of such team members.

Eventually, they will be forced to rethink their behavior and attitude. This may prompt a much more positive approach or a less negatively influential effect on all since they will inevitably realise there is no justification to carry on when you are accorded respect. They may opt to carry on with the negativity but certainly not with or toward you. Eventually, they will appreciate the futility of being a pain. It will choke them because the manager will have opted for a positive approach, doing good even when “bad” is the easier choice.

10. Get rid of them

If all fails, there must be a way to manage such team members out. This route though is only possible if all is well documented to support a decision to get rid of such team members. Anything less will surely meet the resistance of policy and Human Resource guidelines.

However, this is one option most managers are reluctant to consider. Firstly, because even where they know the shortcomings of a team member, their assessment is misaligned to this fact and such team members’ performance ratings do not suggest any such negative elements. Secondly, most managers fall short of firm decision making and thus delay the inevitable which would be to their benefit.

Keeping such team members has the untold effect of demoralising the entire team that endures the escape of such difficult team members with no reprimand, action or firmness. Coupled with that, it surely also works against productivity as the manager will always spend time trying to manage negativity and its offshoots as opposed to more value adding areas of his or her managerial role.

Is it not time you looked at your difficult employees differently? How are you handling them if you have any?


10 easy ways to lose your team

One of the most paradoxical things about management is dealing with people and team dynamics. On one hand, it gives one immense satisfaction when progress is noted. On the flip side, it may well be the most stressful assignment when it appears to be a huge tyre being rolled uphill.

Team management is a cardinal part of business success. People form the very foundation that sustains what businesses and companies achieve or strive to attain.

How you manage people and galvanize this strategic resource plays a great part in your success……or failure.

Let us look at some of the things managers do (or don’t) that estrange them from their own teams.

1. Its all about you

A leader, which a manager is, takes the front seat when things are well and even more when not. However, many a time, it is not unusual to see managers that want the limelight and glory while their team remains oblique in the background. This “I’m the man” syndrome seeks to cast the spotlight on one person at the expense of a team that has committed their best to achieve.

2. I’m the boss mentality

The other dampener is the bossy type. The type that does not seem to have come to terms with their managerial or leadership role and status. As a result, this flawed ego seeks to be massaged at all times. One way to achieve this is by flaunting the authority one derives from their position so everyone is aware who they are.

This is even used to stifle opinion because people are forced to be politically correct so as not to attract the wrath of a displeased boss. It is “my way or the highway so make up your mind, which side are you on?”

3. Not walking the talk

Competence is critical in any role. Coupled with that is the need not only for a manager to exhibit this. It is also the demand to stand for something and not fail to lead by example.

Many a time, managers are vocal on time management and work ethic for instance. Yet they do not themselves keep time or show much quality in their work or approach to work. This is what renders credence to statements such as “managers are never late, just delayed”. In most cases, especially to do with values, a leader must show the way rather breathe the law with fear and authority to enforce good practice.

4. An empty head

No one expects that a manager will know it all. In fact, it offers a perfect engagement opportunity when a leader also learns from his team.

But when a manager or leader is full of airs and radiates a “know it all” attitude, it is almost certainly an ingredient to disengage the team. It may even result in them distancing themselves and setting the manager up for failure.

Being a manager comes with inherent authority. But in no way does it mean all knowledge and wisdom is reposed in you. It is acceptable to ask where you need to. It is entirely detestable for a manager that is all “show and noise” but in reality is incompetent, insecure and uninspiring. It does turn out in some instances that managers conduct themselves in this manner as a facade to hide their ignorance, inferiority complex and insecurity.

5. Stingy with applauds

One area one can do well to improve on is applause. Most managers are very stingy when it comes to this.

Some believe that praise should not be given for what one is paid for and expected to do. Others believe it will simply slide the team into laziness and therefore whips are the best motivation.

This could not be far from the truth. Motivation is dynamic and complex. It is not “one size fits all” or expected to be done the same way all the time. There are cases that require a pat on the back for milestones and not always wait for that “big feat” to be attained. This is certainly the case when executing a project, reinforcing positive behaviour and attitude or just carrying the team when it is easier for them to feel like mere tools grinding away.

Most importantly, this praise must at all times be genuine or at least reflect a semblance of authenticity.

6. Being Impersonal

This is one prominent factor that largely goes unnoticed. In our present work culture, it has worsened due to work demands, limitations on time and the quest for KPI delivery.

In all this, the forgotten but critical fact is that at the centre of all is the staff……people.

People have personal lives, stresses and needs that they bring to work. Others manage to minimise the negative impact of these factors on their work output. Still others transfer their toxicity to the workplace and make it a nightmare for all.

The point for a Manager however is the importance of how you manage the team. I remember once calling a member of my team to enquire how they were coping in a new role. Mine was a simple question of “how are you doing?”. The response I received taught me that we must always take an interest in the “person” behind our staff to an acceptable and basic extent at least.

The information my team member shared made me appreciate the distraction I had noted in his execution of duties. After the chat, things seemed to smoothen.

I have dealt with or seen “bosses” that are informed about a team member’s bereavement or personal setback. When he or she is called or returns for work, the first question or statement is about some important report or task needed urgently!!!!

7. Low self esteem

Every manager needs to challenge themselves to keep learning and improving how they work. This helps with the necessary workplace evolution and even self development.

The absence of this leads to some of the management challenges we encounter. It appears unrelated but have you not seen managers that use intimidation, authority and duress to get things done? This ” I am the boss and have spoken” approach may just be a case of poor self esteem.

A manager that has their ego demons to face may struggle with people and team management. Especially a team consisting of vastly experienced or brilliant staff. All they are likely to see in such cases is a competitor that can take their place or expose their ineptitude.

A manager is a part of the team. Therefore it is critical that they enhance their competence through constantly learning and challenging themselves. This learning can well be bottom up and must not be downplayed.

Low self esteem will always be a knock on team management. It will not win a manager any confidence or trust with the team. The inevitable consequence is the manager exhibiting traits that alienate them from the team.

8. Lack of objectivity

One of a manager’s notorious pitfalls,especially new ones, is that of not starting on a clean slate. More often than not we pay so much attention to what our predecessors, peers or other staff have to say about our teams. Make no mistake, briefs are necessary and help one to formulate a view of their team, new or otherwise.

But the brief must in no way entail that you develop a prejudicial approach. Different people will have had varying interactions and influences. As such it becomes imperative that you formulate your own perception and determine the appropriate engagement method(s).

The danger of adopting perceptions is how it impacts your interactions with team members. I recall in a previous job when I first had the opportunity to lead a team. I was told how challenging the team I had inherited was and typically one or two members were singled out as “difficult”. From that point on, my thinking and planning tried to sideline these particular members. After all, I did not want to court any stress.

My objectivity had been clouded by the views of others. However, with time I learnt that I needed to deal with individuals as they came and at least take them on based on my independent view and assessment of them. People are different and exhibit personalities influenced by different factors. It is true that we do not go to work in these roles as psychologists or counsellors. But we do get into these roles to manage people and the least they deserve is the opportunity to be viewed as people, not tools.

When we fail to demonstrate objectivity, fairness or consistency as managers we lose the confidence of the team. This spills over to most aspects of what we do or need to do. A classic example of such a case is the view of performance management systems that need to be transparent or objective. They however quickly earn a reputation as tools or systems that work for the boss’ favorites and adversely for those in the “unappreciated” ranks.

9. Failure to just shut up

One common folly is managers believing they have to show they are wise or have solutions to everything presented to them. As a result even when team members approach them seeking a listening ear or to just air some views, the manager will chip in with an opinion possibly in belief that they have to provide answers.

The rule here is for managers to learn to be perceptive and also appreciate the basics of coaching. To listen more, talk less and let it be the team member on stage. The feeling of having gone to someone to share and pour out to a listening ear but leave unfulfilled is a negative one. It inevitably will lead to staff thinking twice about talking to you about anything at all.

It may sound crude and harsh but every manager must learn to shut up. This is one factor that could positively endear one to the team, assuring them that they have someone empathetic and accommodating even when you have not provided any solution at all.

10. Not taking time to think

So much happens in the workplace and many things that influence the environment are rarely openly discussed. It is for that simple reason that a manager must take time “out” to analyse their team and environment. What makes staff do what they do? What silent reaction is seen towards pronouncements, changes or strategy etc?

The cultural element is extremely critical and all managers must pay attention to it. They should also seek to determine the influencers, their motivation for counter-productivity and its offshoots.

Every manager must pay attention to the unspoken or corridor talk whichever form it takes. A manager must create time to observe and learn. This offers insights into the effectiveness of communication and even the approach towards managing the team.

When this does not happen, we usually see a seemingly aloof manager that is so detached from the goings-on in their midst. Even as the link with the team weakens, a manager with no time to think will not perceive this. Perhaps not until it is too late.

Thinking gives you a view of your team dynamics and also an opportunity for one to review their team management capabilities. This can result in identification of strengths, sources of negative energy and even talent.

It would then be virtually improbable for a manager to be taken by surprise when it becomes evident he or she has lost his team along the way.

These are only ten factors to study in order to avoid losing your team. Any more you can add to the list as you manage your team?


10 simple reasons why team members are demotivated

The one odd thing I note about management is the prominence of its paradox. There is so much material and a knowledge pool readily shared. Yet most of the areas found wanting have to do with managing people.

I have observed in my experience managing people and being managed that there are several aspects in which managers can do better.

One critical area centres on keeping employees (team members) motivated and engaged. This is a cardinal piece and ingredient for any business or organisation to thrive.

Sadly, it usually also is at risk largely because its impact is often underestimated at best or ignored at worst.

My observation highlights ten reasons team members end up disengaged and aloof. This is not an exhaustive list and many others can be cited but for this article, I will tackle only the ten.

1. Performance management

This is one aspect that has been taken for granted and remains shrouded in misunderstanding. We still have managers that use it to deal with team members perceived as rebels or not towing an expected line.

We still have organisations that leave appraisals to the end of a defined period, perhaps year end and rush through it as a formality and tick off on the checklist.

Performance management is much more than that and can be a rich tool when understood in the context of its value. When managers know how to curb poor performance before it happens or coach team members to apply their strengths, the results can only be positive.

2. Lack of recognition

How often do we see team members that are committed and offer their best but are largely unappreciated? Even without saying it, most organisations and managers may not realise the subtle message they relay. It usually is a message that “we know you’ll be here even tomorrow so we won’t bother much”.

This unfortunate scenario and message tends to solidify a belief that the team member is insignificant in the bigger scheme of things.

Managers must learn that even the daily mundane tasks add to the entire value chain. Therefore, no matter what the perception may be, these small contributions must be heralded. The least important in the team must get a sense that they are needed and have a contribution to make. Every seemingly small task is a milestone and must be acknowledged as such.

It’s not always about monetary rewards or an end of year prize giving or certificate. It can be as uncomplicated as a mention in staff meetings, a word of encouragement and a pat on the back.

Managers must be attentive to such and use timely relevant recognition to stimulate motivation. With that we may also see less situations of team members getting applauds and counter offers when they announce their intention to exit an organisation.

3. Supervisor superiority

There is an unfortunate fallacy and myth that all wisdom is reposed in top management. As a result, a top down approach to management becomes so rife. Then we wonder why staff usually suffer from indecision when decisions are required.

In addition, we see so many tactless and self centred insecure managers that have no active ear for team members’ contributions. This leads to worth ideas being lost in employees’ minds with a belief that their input is never of value or considered anyway.

This cannot be further from the truth. So much wisdom and insight can be brought out of team members at lower than manager levels. It therefore offers more benefit to give them a platform than completely disregard them. This is a buy in method that presents more motivational and engagement benefits than one way traffic. It calls for a manager’s perceptive intelligence where even when he/she knows more, it is not necessary to strongly exhibit it to the team and make them see who the boss is.

Instead, the team will appreciate being a part of their manager’s thought process, initiatives and decision making. Managers must never act as though they are in competition with their team members. This only works to accentuate the perception that they know it all and what they say is what stands.

4. Questionable reward mechanisms

We are in a prominent era of performance scorecards and bonuses. This development has immense value in terms of productivity and performance objectivity. Twinned with the reward arm, it also presents a transparent mechanism to incentivise performance.

But it is not as straight forward as it is meant to be. With scorecards and respective payouts, integrity challenges have arisen. What usually starts out with attractive amounts eventually slips into reduced payouts. This is usually on account of cost considerations or tweaks in computations.

The impact of this is that teams that were initially fired up now begin to struggle with demoralisation with a poignant belief that they are getting a raw deal. This is also compounded by pronouncements of overall profitability, leading to silent questions of why there is no commensurate reward if business performance is on song.

This presents a potent force against team motivation and engagement. Simply because the team now battles with a perception of being taken for granted.

5. Empty promises-walking the talk!

There is undoubtedly much credibility that managers lose with their employees. When a team member is wooed to make role switches or accept some changes, sometimes managers promise perks or flowery considerations. Unfortunately, once the change sought happens, these are readily forgotten.

Further, this is a trend that seems to have chronically caught on with staff townhalls as well. Pronouncements are made but follow through is either lagged or non-existent. This leads staff to stop believing what they are told unless it happens.

Light as it may appear, this is a cancer that needs to be avoided by all means at all levels of management. Managers must strive to only commit to what they can deliver and where change in course sets in, clear communication must accompany it rather than silence and unfulfilled expectation.

6. Selfish top management agendas

This seems harsh. But this is the corridor view of what happens or is decided at the top level. A clear pointer here would be that communication perhaps is not effectively handled as it is cascaded.

This tends to build a barrier between top management and the “rest”. The most prominent trend in the recent past has been communication around costs. Most businesses face cost pressures and are keen on managing direct costs downwards.

The rigorous discipline and most initiatives around costs remain necessary. But usually there is little or no attempt to make the team know why certain actions are taken or their impact on the entire organisation. Not that they need to be in on everything but that the organisation values them enough to let them know.

However, in some cases this cost discipline has been taken with a hint of extremism, affecting things like staff training and engagement activities. Every cost is now scrutinised, questioned and mostly thrown out even when it may not have any significant impact on the bottom line.

This is a cardinal one to manage as it has a possible construed effect that the team that generates revenue does not deserve any expense. Caution must be taken so it does not appear the team is a cost to be kept to the barest minimum.

This is further compounded when top management seems to easily spend on what they sanction which staff will also believe to be less important.

7. People make it happen

Every organisation and manager must always remember that people make the money and organisation. Therefore, people must not be treated like tools or statistics.
The value attached to meeting objectives or making profits must be evidently more so on the people side. Logic holds that without people, there will be no revenue or profitability discussion.

Sadly, in most cases and organisations this piece is largely ignored. Staff are made to seem like mere tools or pawns in the game. Therefore whatever is done or decisions made, they ought to take it and not question in any way.

How many times do we see changes in policy, operational guidelines or increased demands on staff without due regard of their input? It may appear more is demanded of teams but less given in return.

It is worth noting that giving back is not always monetary but can take many forms from consultation, appreciation and respectful communication. This may just curtail discontent, mistrust and even burnout.

An organisation must at all times remember that it is the people that make it. Therefore this is the most prized asset and actions must support this assertion.

8. Inconsistent work ethic

We all appreciate reporting times or being at work and actually doing what you are paid for, among other things.

The downside here though is that though expectations are set so clearly, role models may be rare. The top management that ought to set the pace “says but does not do”. Organisations ought to have more managers or leaders that do what they ask of their team members.

If timekeeping is an issue, a manager must be in the forefront showing discipline here. If it is quality of work or respecting deadlines on tasks, the manager must also be seen to deliver on these aspects.

The rule of thumb will always be that one must never ask for what they cannot give.

9. Perception of growth and mistakes

The satisfaction that emanates from growing in one’s career cannot be ignored. We all seek to progress in terms of knowledge, personal development and career.

What may be a fact too is that growth will have mistakes, experiments and wrong turns tagging along. This ought to be taken as being a part of the learning curve and growth process.

However, I have been in organisations where a mistake is censured so strongly. I agree costly ones must be appropriately sanctioned. But some mistakes are a result of someone lacking exposure to the art of decision making. When they show an ability to decide but get it wrong, I would hold that this is more of a coaching opportunity than censure.

We must take a creative view towards mistakes with our sight set on using them to grow people. That way, we will not have a team that remains rooted in indecision or low self esteem, believing it is the preserve of top management. Instead, people will learn to freely apply themselves and learn along the way.

10. Clueless and planless leadership

Finally one of the biggest contributors to demotivation is having a leader or leadership team that simply sails on with no direction. This may be so especially for middle management or in some cases entry level top management with teams they lead.

How many simply report for work and depend on what the day presents or tasks handed to them? They believe their job from that point becomes knowing what to assign to someone else, often called delegation!

But how many plan and have aspirations for their role apart from meeting targets or objectives set? Do we spare a thought about the level we want to take our team or organisation to? Or how to enrich roles in the team? Or enhance processes that support our delivery?

These seemingly simple things have the potential to feed into a rich overall vision that an entire team can aspire for collectively. What this does is create a sense of purpose and a drive to achieve which is a critical ingredient for engagement.

But when a manager or leader simply sees an 8am-5pm window, inspiration also becomes elusive as there is nothing more to work than reporting.

A team must dream together, strive together and have an over arching goal to make a difference in an agreed area. This forms the vision and when all are aspiring for something bigger than a set of objectives on paper, success through team engagement is never far off!

The above are the ten factors I have observed and continue seeing with a significant impact on team motivation. However, as stated earlier, they are not exhaustive and several more can be added to the list. Take a step back, assess your role and determine what you need to eliminate or consolidate to make you a top notch manager.

Have fun while you are at it. Highly likely the team will be in tow on your way to success.

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