By Robert Cordray

Creating an inspired, motivated staff at work can require much training, a little bit of know-how and a lot of active interaction with employees.  Many times, a boss will assume that being in charge means being the ‘bad guy’, but that isn’t always so. If you would like to know eleven things that are sure to destroy motivation at work, consider these:

Penalize the Many Because of the Actions of a Few

Policies and procedures are absolutely necessary for the successful management of a business.  It is necessary to create a framework of ethical, legal and procedural guidelines for employees so they know what is expected.  However, don’t create new rules because of one or two employees who chose to overlook those guidelines.  Rather than punish everyone with too many rules, address the individuals alone and remedy the behaviors.

Confine Team Members to One Training Style

One training style or method of learning does not fit all. You will quickly realize that, while you and your employees are all working for common company goals in a common industry, methods and processes for achieving those goals can vary widely, and finding the types of training that work best for each employee is important. You might have an idea of how to most effectively train employees, past processes and procedures that have worked best. But have you considered branching out? Maybe your process will work for some, but might be viewed as out dated by others. Perhaps they will need something more contemporary, something that leverages microlearning and other more recent methods.

Pick Favorites

Having favorite employees will bury the motivations of other employees who will feel left out and neglected.  You may not realize it, but your employees are paying close attention and will know right away if you have favorite employees. Employee recognition should be something that is afforded to everyone who earns it, and not just an exclusive few. Everyone working together should be a team with no one being preferred or any others. Make sure that all policies and rules apply to every member of the team.

Let Meetings Run Long

Staff meetings are a necessary evil, but don’t overkill.  There’s nothing worse than stopping in the middle of an important task to attend a staff meeting. Be sure to schedule routine meetings well in advance and keep unscheduled meetings to a minimum. Many managers are considered as people who simply like to hear themselves talk.  Your employees would much rather be working than listening to unnecessary information.

Micromanage Your Staff

Allow your employees to manage tasks on their own as much as possible.  Remember why the person was hired and allow them to do the job.  Many managers have a need for control and find it difficult to delegate tasks to others but if you don’t, your employees will begin to feel small and worthless. Even when you can probably do it better, it’s better for employee motivation to allow the employee to complete the task.  Go one step further and complement him on a job well done.

Be Dismissive

Ambitious employees love to contribute to the overall good of the company and they especially appreciate when others notice.  Even if their ideas aren’t the best, never stomp on the ideas or tell them that they aren’t good enough.  Listen to the ideas and the rationale behind them.  Encourage your employees to have a voice.

Lie or Tell Half Truths

It is in the workplace as it is in life.  Your employees need to know that your word is good.  If you make empty promises consistently, your employees will begin to doubt your authority. If you say that you’re going to do something, you have to do it.  If you don’t keep your word, your employees will start to distrust you.  Employee engagement demands trust in the person who is in charge.

Violate a Confidence or Divulge the Personal Information of Others

It isn’t difficult to inadvertently mention something that an employee may have mentioned to you, even if it seems inconsequential.  Employers need to remember that the information that they hold is completely confidential and under no circumstances should it be shared with other employees. This violation goes beyond poor leadership; it is an extreme violation of ethical responsibility.

Set Unreachable or Demanding Goals

Employees need to be motivated realistically.  They need to feel as though they are accomplishing something and contributing to the workplace.  Set attainable goals so they aren’t inhibited to reach for them.  If an employee feels that a goal is not realistic, he may not even try. An employee needs to feel like the finish line is attainable. Rather than setting goals that are way too high, break larger tasks into smaller, more realistic ones so the vision of an achievement is in sight.

Focus on Mistakes
Mistakes are not a definition of the person; rather, they become an opportunity to learn.  If an employee does not do something correctly, don’t relive the mistake.  Use the opportunity to teach the employee how to perform the task correctly.  Keep a positive attitude and your employees will stay motivated.

Try to Be “Pals”

Many bosses will try to gain approval from their employees by allowing them to address them by first name or, worse, by telling inappropriate jokes.  The worst thing an employer can do is divulge personal information that will make the employer appear to be weak or unethical.  Everyone is human and there is a time and a place for everything.  A good boss maintains an appropriate personal space from employees for many reasons. Employees need to be able to look up to the boss with respect and integrity.

Robert Cordray is a former business consultant and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience and a wide variety of knowledge in multiple areas of the industry. Follow him at @RobertCordray.