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Sustaining Employee Motivation

April 14, 2011

By: Carletta Clyatt

Easy ways to revive lackluster employees 

Think about the individuals who are your staff. Is each one still an eager, enthusiastic, contributor to the team? As with personal life experiences, the passing of time can dull work experiences -- make what was once exciting and novel seem routine and boring. Can you breathe new life into your existing employees, galvanize less than enthusiastic personalities and help ensure that each team member works to his or her full potential? The answer is an unequivocal “Yes!”

There are definitive and proven ways to re-inspire staff members. This is frequently done by offering new challenges, but it’s crucial that those challenges actually appeal to the individual and are not thought to be intimidating. Not everyone wants to sell, not everyone wants to troubleshoot and now everyone wants to strategize! Giving a shy, sensitive person the “opportunity” to take on some sales responsibilities is a recipe for disaster; so is attempting to reposition a systematic, moderately paced worker into a busy, multi-tasking role. 

Know the predictable behavior of the individuals on your team, but also be absolutely certain that the new objectives you set for each one of them are realistic and achievable. More importantly, make sure the new challenge is something your employee will actually enjoy! Understand what they want, then give it to them. There is no way you’ll inspire staff members by compelling them to do something they have little or no desire to do. Here are a few examples of viable growth opportunities for various personalities: 

Personality:  Technically minded, methodical, passive

These individuals often back away quickly when confrontations occur, become easily overwhelmed, and find it difficult to break the ice with strangers. They like performing research and analysis, solving everyday problems, and staying behind the scenes. Consider assigning important long-term projects; let them know you recognize their aptitude for facts and figures and see them as valuable team players. 

Personality:  Fast paced, highly sociable, easygoing

Inspire these personalities by allowing them to take an active role in boosting your company’s image. If you’re planning a companywide activity, let them help with the arrangements. Give them plenty of visibility during major sales events. Handing out flyers, greeting visitors, acting in any kind of public relations capacity serves them well and makes them feel privileged and recognized. 

Personality:  Assertive, win driven, self-directing

Enliven these staff members by allowing them to do more than just help; let them take charge of some noteworthy projects or a group of people. Making independent decisions and leading others gives these personalities their much needed rush of adrenaline. When you find yourself desperately seeking someone to act as an authority figure in your absence, entrust these individuals – assuming, of course, they have proven their ability in their core duties. Without frequent new waters to chart, these people tend to abandon ship. 

Alternative Strategies

Environment.  Start by creating a positive work environment. Every member of your team, whether venturesome in his/her career objectives or not, needs to feel accepted, appreciated, understood, proud and valued; your specific management tactics, attitude, and workplace atmosphere will meet these needs – or not. 

Adapt.  It also helps when employees feel of one mind with their boss and believe they are working toward the same objectives, in search of the same goals. Learn to adapt your communication style, at least to some degree. Speak succinctly and directly to serious-minded workers, but engage in some banter or small talk when interacting with outgoing types. People are generally more comfortable around those who seem like them. Sometimes, all that’s needed to rev-up an employee’s level of enthusiasm is your frequent show of interest in their thoughts and your frequent expression of appreciation for their efforts. 

Patience.  Try to be more patient with employees who seem to lag a few steps behind you. Be reasonable when setting deadlines. Just because you might be quick and adept at doing several things simultaneously, it doesn’t mean everyone else is – or even should be! Less hurried workers will persevere when you won’t; they’ll be the ones who tackle and complete all the tedious tasks you need done, but despise. 

Attentive.  Resolve to be more attentive to those who come to you for direction. These individuals tend to be very concerned about the quality of their work and like to be sure they’re doing things correctly; they may seem overly dependent in your eyes, but they’re probably just cautious -- not incapable.  Exhibiting some confidence in their decisions and empowering them to take matters into their own hands might make these well-intentioned, conscientious workers feel a bit more self-sufficient. If they happen to make a mistake, don’t explode; no one does everything perfectly. And anyone who says they do is lying -- or never does anything at all! 

Having a clearer understanding of the traits and work habits of everyone on your team makes it easier to trigger motivational hot buttons and keep the energy level and morale within your workplace high. Don’t let your employees become stuck in a robotic work rut! They are, among other things, your most prized financial investments. Developing, nurturing and enlivening the individuals who are your staff, should be among your primary concerns as a manager, since when your employees are living up to their full potential, so then will you and your company!

Carletta Clyatt

Carletta Clyatt, a popular seminar speaker, is the SVP at The Omnia Group. She offers clients advice on how to manage more effectively and gain insight into employee strengths, weaknesses and behaviors. For more information about employee behavioral assessments, call Carletta at 813-280-3026 or email:

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