The 4 Best Ways to Demotivate

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Businessmans bubble is about to burstCreating a motivational atmosphere and leadership isn’t always about what to do; it can very often be about what to stop doing. Employees in 85 percent of companies, significantly lose morale after the first six months in a new company. If there are strong demotivational practices going on in the office, these must be targeted and changed before true motivation and engagement can take place. The problem is, we rarely know we’re doing these things.

Enthusiasm has to start from the top. Leaders have the strong ability to either encourage or kill motivation. Regardless of hiring speakers, holding conferences or doling out tokens of appreciation, the very least leaders should do is to stop these demotivating practices.

Falling Short on the Follow-Through

Get real here. Do you ever ask about the implementation of new ideas, solicit feedback or ask about tools and projects and then do absolutely nothing with those ideas? Sure, this is most likely because there aren’t enough hours in the day, but it sends a very clear message to your staff that you completely disregarded them. Some advice from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB),

“Be sure to relay the results, even if the ideas or proposals don’t go anywhere. Asking employees for input without acknowledging it shows a lack of respect.”

Lack of Recognition

What would Fatboy Slim do? Praise you! Lack of recognition and praise are a motivation succubus. When hard work goes unnoticed or unvalued, that hard work will eventually stop. If someone can get the same paycheck and experience when they do nothing as they would when they work hard, what motivation is there to work hard? There are cows to feed and crops to water on Farmville.

Recognition is often thought to be monetary, but money is only one of the few strong motivators for most workers. Employees need to feel like their work and efforts are valued via verbal or documented recognition.

Never Giving Them the “Why”

Why are we doing this? Why do we do it this way? What are the expected or needed outcomes? Giving someone a task without context will usually produce work that is not ideal. When someone is given insight as to how his or her work will fit into the big picture, it is far more motivational. When workers see how their work drives the success of the organization, they will take more ownership of its outcome.


Nothing is more demotivational than a boss who shows their team with every interaction that they cannot be trusted to do anything on their own. Very hands on managers don’t even know that they are sending this message to their team, but their team still receives it loud and clear. Micromanaging really only discourages employees from taking any sort of initiative. When everything has to be done a certain way, creativity and dialogue suffer. Leaders should motivate their team to think for themselves.

Leaders who tend to micromanage, may not always be happy with the results of other’s work, but they should step back and ask themselves why. Are they not pleased because that isn’t how they would have done it, or are they not pleased because the work is actually subpar?

Leaders are often oblivious to their everyday motivation killing practices. Give workers the opportunity to take initiative, value their work and keep them in the loop. Motivating employees does take balance and work, but it’s well worth the productivity and engagement.


Read more in Employee Engagement

Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and Recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, an agency offering marketing strategy and content development. A consistent advocate of next generation marketing techniques, Hogan has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies in both the B2B and B2C sectors, and been a prolific contributor of thought leadership in the global recruitment and talent space. Hogan speaks and writes on all career and workforce related subjects. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies and SMBs around the globe. Red Branch Media was formed in 2006 as a simple consultancy. Today, the firm is a full-service B2B Marketing Agency that serves clients in the U.K., Africa, China, Israel, Europe and North America. Primarily focused on the Human Resources and Global Workforce vendors, Red Branch Media handles clients of all shapes and sizes.
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