Esther Derby has the right idea in Stop Demotivating Me!. Some of my previous posts on this topic: Stop Demotivating Employees – Problems Caused by Performance Appraisal – Why Extrinsic Motivation Fails… Esther’s article points out a number of problems with how many managers operate:
Employees are not trustworthy. I once worked for a company where two people in a department of 800 abused the company policy on cab fare reimbursement. After the incident was discovered, the VP decreed that she had to personally approve all reimbursement requests over $5. Her policy effectively communicated her belief that no one in the organization was trustworthy.
Employees aren’t capable of making good decisions. Layers of signatures, long lead times for standard items, and lag times for signatures and approvals not only slow down work and frustrate people—they communicate that people aren’t capable of making reasonable decisions.
These kind of examples are so sad. Managers reacting to special causes as if they are common causes (or as though talk without action is worthwhile). It is as if Dr. Deming hadn’t talked about this stuff 50 years ago and they shouldn’t know any better. Here are some books to help you learn what every manager should know so you don’t make the same mistakes. If that list is too long start with just one: The Leader’s Handbook.
What should a manager do? Eliminate the de-motivators. Provide coaching (building the capacity or employees and the organization). And manage a system to allow people to take pride in what they do. Holding pizza parties, pep talks, displaying posters and annual performance reviews are not what is needed. But those actions are really easy so that is what some people do – instead of what is needed. How sad.