Sometimes, especially in large bureaucratic
organizations, people stagnate. They don’t feel as though the work they are doing
is important and they don’t feel appreciated. This leads to just getting
through the day, doing their work in a desultory manner.
In other cases, there is anger and resentment,
which is kept under wraps, because the employees feeling that way don’t want to
risk losing their jobs by telling management what bothers them. Thus, they
become passive-aggressive, doing the work in a desultory manner.
Recently, I was consulting to a division of a
company that was trying to integrate a new management team. The new managers
had very different styles of operating than their predecessors and
inadvertently made staff feel as though everything they had done in the past
was wrong. Instead of embracing the new processes, the staff became
passive-aggressive (some became outright aggressive) ignoring the new systems
and continuing to do their work (you guessed it) in a desultory manner or not
Other reasons employees are no longer motivated
might be as simple as boredom, not feeling appreciated, not having enough to
eat (yes!) or even too much to eat (in firms that have hot and cold gourmet
food around all the time).
In some cases it is impossible – almost
impossible – for a manager to reward an outstanding job by giving a bonus, a
tangible present, or time off. Either government regulations or unions or both
demand that everyone be compensated – treated equally (whatever that really
So, let’s assume you can’t throw money at the
problem. Let’s assume that you, as manager, have to find ways to make your
employees motivated and engaged again.
Clearly once an employee (assuming you have
hired correctly – but that’s another article) is re-energized and motivated,
the quality of their work-product will improve as will their attitude of
customer service both internally and externally.
I want to start my suggestions with the most
obvious: Customer Service
Customer Service as a Diagnostic Tool
There is perhaps no clearer indication of
whether an employee is feeling good about themselves and their work than how
they treat others.
Is their stock answer “not my job” or do they go
out of their way to be helpful and supportive to those they serve – and those
who serve them in the workplace? When you receive information from your
internal customers that there is a lack of cooperation but only demands from
your staff, you know your employees are unhappy.
Let’s look at contracts and procurement of
professional services in a government agency as an example.
There are internal customers who rarely need to
procure something externally. Thus, they don’t remember, or have never used,
the complicated processes required for the contracted services they seek. How
the contract administration staff handles them is a litmus test of how this
department feels about their jobs and about the company in which they work.
If they help the internal customer complete all
the required forms in a friendly manner, you get one idea – but if they merely
say “not my job – you are supposed to know where to find the information and
fill out the forms,” you have a real attitude problem on your hands.
Let’s look, too, to one of the more standard
complaints. IT against everyone else. Does your organization have an IT
organization with members who think they are better than everyone else (“stupid
user”), or do they recognize that they are a service organization to the rest
of the departments?
You get the point! A significant way you can
measure employee motivation and the way the employees in the organization work
to support each other’s success, as well as the goals of the organization
itself, is to create surveys and evaluations.
Of course another way you can learn about how
your employees feel is to ask them – you can ask them in one-on-ones, but most
people will be to afraid to be honest.
You stand a better chance of learning what
really is bothering them if you create an employee satisfaction –
dissatisfaction survey or have them do an evaluation of their supervisors,
managers and peers (sometimes called a 360 degree evaluation).
Let’s suppose you ask them about their
relationship to their management. You might suggest they answer all the
questions on a scale of 1 – 5 (1 = poor, 5 = excellent), and here are some
suggested questions to ask: Do you know what is expected of you at work?
you have the materials and equipment you need to do your job effectively?
you feel that you are being asked to do work that fits your interests and
you challenged with stretch goals so that you are able to continuously
your supervisor/manager available to you when you need him/her?
decisions are being made that involve the work you do, or you, are you a
part of the conversation and does your opinion matter?
you enjoy coming to work each morning?
your relationship with your co-workers friendly and helpful?
your supervisor/manager let you know when you’ve done a good job
the work you do part of what makes our company so valuable to the
your performance appraised regularly, and do you know what you are doing
well, what you need improvement in, and your stretch goals?
you feel better about the work you are expected to do
if______________(fill in the blank)?
Of course you need to
read the answers carefully and create a plan of action for improvement where
Labels: Employee motivation, Employee survey, feedback, morale, surveys