S8 E3 Got a problem employee- A different approach to motivation is needed with Jeremy Gray   artwork
Practical Solutions to Difficult Problems with Jeremy Gray

S8 E3 Got a problem employee- A different approach to motivation is needed with Jeremy Gray

  • S8E3
  • 12:59
  • January 14th 2022

It is a given of business thinking that good managers motivate employees with their vision for the future, their passionate delivery and great plans. Add in some incentives to do the right things, and everyone falls in line and success is achieved. But the reality is much different. Few managers are good at rallying the team, and expecting them to do so can make them feel guilt ridden. Research shows that incentives, whether motivational talks, money or threat of dire consequences have little impact. The folks who respond to such things are already up and running. It’s the other employees who are the problem. Probably you have had experience of the high maintenance employee, the employee who take up a disproportionate amount of your time and energy. Despite your efforts they still remain unmotivated and possibly disruptive to your organization. You ask yourself what more can I do to motivate these problem employees? How can I get them energized and committed not only to supporting your initiatives but also actually getting them done? These are the wrong questions. Because it turns out you cannot motivate the problem employee. Only the problem employee can motivate themselves. As a leader you need create an environment that unleashes their inherent motivation and channels it towards achievable goals. You may have had an employee who says all the right things, appears to have the right attitude yet is not capable of delivering the results you need. The employee on paper seems well qualified to get the work done but somehow it does not happen. You talk to them about the problem, they agree to improve, agree to change, but you feel that nothing you have said has made any meaningful impact on your problem employee. You consider a formal performance improvement plan, but this is unlikely to alter the situation and is more likely to end in termination. You do not want to lose the employee, you have invested a lot of time in them, finding a suitable replacement will take time and energy, and you are sure if you can get them motivated, they will be a valuable employee. Where are the communications breaking down? It is likely that you are making the assumption that the problem employee has the same thought processes as you. If you can only get them to listen, they will see the logic of your argument and then they have to accept that what you are saying makes sense. However, we all have different motivations, different values and biases, different ideas about what is reasonable. It is the mismatch between your view of the world and the employee’s view of the world that causes the problems. You will have experienced the Yes Boss meeting where it appears to end in an agreed action plan, but nothing happens. The employee does not change one bit. As human beings we tend to try to understand people we like and dismiss people we do not like. We use expressions such as lazy, boring, ineffective to describe them. Adjectives that the subject of our scorn would not apply to themselves. How do you think the problem employee describes you? Probably not in very flattering terms. A change in perspective may help resolve the problem; instead of thinking of the employee as a problem think of them as someone who needs to be understood. Some guiding principles are helpful: Everyone has motivational energy. The problem employee may not show it at work, but it likely exists in other aspects of their lives. It may not be reasonable to expect the employee to feel the same enthusiasm for work as they feel about their hobbies or other outside interests. But it is a mistake to write the employee as unmotivated. Motivation is often blocked at work. One of the most common cause for blockages occurs when the employee feels that their boss really does not care about them, they believe they are undervalued. They do not like their boss much and the feeling is mutual. Under these circumstances it is easy to see how a pep talk is seen as insincere.

Practical Solutions to Difficult Problems with Jeremy Gray

After over 30 years in the MNC corporate world at the C-suite or General Manager level I am now focused on helping Entrepreneurs and SME's succeed. Using the lessons learned from working in Europe, North America and Asia while as an MNC executive along with 7 years supporting smaller businesses I bring this knowledge to my listeners. The topics will change but the message will remain the same, how to profitably grow your business.

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