Helping you make sense
of the evolving HR landscape.

Don’t Bring Me Down: Mistakes in
Employee Motivation

Posted on: November 21st, 2013 | Category: Employee Relations, Our Blog, Talent Management

“I personally think we developed language because of our deep need to complain.” – Lily Tomlin
negative employee motivationComplaining can be toxic for a workplace. When it happens once in a while, it usually isn’t a big deal. But in high doses, it can poison your work teams and keep your company from the goals you want to achieve.

Why do some people complain so much? It could be that when they are caught up in the moment, busy or unprepared to deal with an issue, their first instinct is to voice negative feedback. They know what they don’t like, and they can see what needs to be changed. Often it is because that is how they are accustomed to receiving feedback, and it has always driven them to do better out of fear. Some people complain because the culture supports this type of behavior.

Complaining Is Not the Best Method of Employee Motivation.

Shocking, we know. “Frequent negative criticism can create a work environment where communication is so compromised that even minor problems grow into major headaches and morale plummets,” says myHR Partner’s President Tina Hamilton, PHR. “When people don’t feel good about being part of your team, productivity goes down, along with employee retention.”

Workforce had a great post recently that addressed the problems of using negative or disparaging feedback as a motivator for your workforce.  One of the article’s finer points:

One of the first things that we need to do as leaders is get to know our employees. As we build those relationships, we gain an understanding of how best to provide feedback, positive as well as constructive. The employee sees that we care about them as people as well as guiding them in their development and career growth. 


What Are Better Ways to Motivate Your Workforce?

By now, you get our drift; complaining and nagging aren’t the way to go. Here are some better ways to approach constructive feedback:

Understand what motivates your employees. “Understand the roles you are asking your people to perform,” says Hamilton. “Realize the big influence that you have in their careers just by virtue of the fact that you are the team leader. How you offer employee feedback, support, guidance and coaching will matter long after you have a particular feedback discussion.”

Talk up the good stuff more often. Praise is one of the most overlooked employee motivators. People want to feel appreciated and valued, and it helps build loyalty. It also increases the likelihood of employees accepting your constructive criticism.

Reward fairly. What ever your company uses as a reward system, be sure that it is metered out fairly and consistently. Nothing demotivates people like the belief that there is overt favoritism in the office.

Remember, employees are going to stumble at some point in his or her career. Focusing on the blame does not move your company forward, nor does it help your workforce grow stronger. If you help your employees improve their performance with the right motivation when things aren’t going perfectly, it will go a long way in getting the most out of your investment in talent.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes, we went there. Enjoy the video.)


Need help with your employee motivation program or with other HR functions? We can help. Contact us today to discuss how to manage your unique human resources needs.

Tell Me More! LVB logo myHR Partner
Please fill out the form below or call 610.443.0119 to learn more about what our modern HR services can do for you. We’ll get back to you within one business day—most likely less!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

myHR Partner’s periodic publication, MODERN EMPLOYER, is created for business executives, owners and HR professionals who want to maximize their human resource functions using progressive hiring and HR strategies. It’s informative, fun and practical. Oh, and it’s FREE too!

You’ll discover:

  • Tips on hiring, screening, and interviewing
  • Creative ideas to help retain your best employees
  • Ways to put the “human” back in Human Resources
  • How to perform effective reference checks
  • New HR regulations and how they affect you and your employees
  • How small changes in certain processes can have big results
  • How to tell when partnering with an outside provider is in your best interest
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.