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March 18, 2015

Are You De-Motivating Your Employees With Negative Messages?

The value of a positive attitude is well documented. We know that engaged employees have a positive attitude toward their work, their organization and the organization’s customers. But we haven’t talked that much about management’s attitude toward employees. Is it positive? Specifically, is your organization’s attitude toward your employees positive?

Before you answer “yes,” think about this: It’s possible that your workplace sends employees a lot of negative messages, and management doesn’t even know it, thus resulting in de-motivating employees.

This is a critical issue in customer-facing businesses, especially retail, where confident, positive sales associates have a direct impact on sales. But who can remain positive in a place filled with negative messages? The thing is, those messages are not seen as negative by management, so they remain invisible but their impact is real. recently carried an article by former Bose Corporation Director of Retail Doug Fleener, who cited either instances of employers sending negative messages.  These include:

Over praising. Surprised by that one? As employee engagement professionals, we put a lot of emphasis on positive feedback, but praise given too often loses its value. At worst, it won’t be believed.

Ignoring poor behavior or bad attitudes. Letting employees get by with unacceptable behaviors or attitudes does more than reinforce that behavior. It demoralizes employees who behave appropriately and keep their sometimes negative attitudes or opinions in check. Why bother if management doesn’t seem to care?

Always jumping in to “improve” employees’ work. There’s coaching then there’s micro-managing. A good manager knows the difference. Says Fleener, “Whatever the motive, people eventually conclude that they can never make the manager or owner happy.”

Failing to recognize extra effort. In our fast-paced environments, those extra efforts sometimes slip past us. Or, if we see an employee going to extra mile, we might intend to acknowledge it when we get a moment. Don’t wait. Do it now. On the spot recognition is powerful.

Blaming others or outside circumstances when things don’t work out. Yes, others can throw a monkey wrench into our plans, and outside circumstances can de-rail a project. But employees learn from management’s attitudes, and learning to take responsibility—and corrective action—is a positive behavior that all managers should demonstrate.

As you can see, negative messages are not always obvious. But if we take the time to look, if we allow ourselves a few quiet moments in our overly busy workplaces, we might be surprised by what we see that’s having a negative impact on our employees. Then we have the opportunity to correct it.

Would you like to learn more about rewards and recognition programs that create positive employee engagement? Contact a Marketing Innovators engagement specialist today.

Source: “Don’t Inadvertently Uninspire Your Employees,” Doug Fleener, Nov. 17, 2014.

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