As a senior manager, or as the boss, the reality is you just can’t do everything yourself.  There are not enough hours in a day, and research has also shown that there are diminishing returns in trying to “do it all”. You just cannot reach the desired level of efficiency and productivity, in trying to do everything yourself from the simplest to the most complex part of your organization.

You need team members. You need people that will support you in the execution of your project or vision. There should be no problem with this, after all, you have so many subordinates/team members. Many hands make light work, right?

Er… sadly, that does not seem to be the case. Just ask around and the complaints debunking this hypothesis, will roll in thick and fast. Most of the time, Managers feel that their subordinates are not motivated to perform up to expected levels in the office.

Let’s assume for discussion purposes that in this scenario, it is not the manager who is at fault. Let us assume that the employees/team members in question, are really non-performing. In this hypothetical scenario, the employees generally display a “tidak-apa” attitude. They appear unmotivated, listless, uninterested. They do not seem to care about anything beyond their own paycheck, and will either complete jobs assigned to them badly, or worse, fail to complete the job at all. The quality of their work is sub-standard to say the least.

They show no initiative whatsoever and actively seek out ways to avoid work. When queried by the Manager, they make excuses and blame other team members, customers, suppliers or external circumstances.

Now, given this bunch of nightmare employees – what can the Manager to do to turn things around at the workplace?

Firstly, identify the non-performing employees, and note down their specific weakness areas. You’ll find that different employees have different issues. For example, employee 1 could have trouble finishing assignments on time, while employee 2 is constantly taking sick leave (even when he or she is obviously not sick) and employee 3 is openly rude, difficult and non-cooperative.

However, as a Manager, you need to focus less on the problems and more on the solution. Your role is to find ways to motivate these employees such that whatever their personal issues, grouses and problems, they will be motivated enough to perform the job up to the level that you need them to perform.

Here are some tips for motivating employees in order to get them to contribute more to the growth of the company :

1. Do your part. As a Manager, you must take responsibility over tasks and projects that you delegate to your subordinates. Do not simply “delegate and forget”. Employees are very quick to notice when tedious work is simply “dumped” on them, while the Manager walks off to do something more interesting.

Instead, after delegating, keep following up with the employee, asking how he is progressing, asking if there is anything he needs. At the same time, don’t micro-manage and interfere.  Let the employee know that you’re there to help and support him if needed, but at the same time, you trust him enough to get the job done.

2. Use “progressive disclosure”.  When briefing project teams on a large project comprised of tedious and time consuming micro-tasks, don’t zoom in on the minute details. Start with the big picture. Motivate the team first. Get the team excited about the end result, and be enthusiastic and confident that the team can complete the project.

Demonstrate how this project will benefit not just the company but each and every employee. Get the team to buy in to the idea. Only when you sense a minimum level of buy in, start delving into the details. But even then, focus only on details for immediate action items, and stick to a general overview of subsequent milestones and deliverables.

Many managers make the mistake of overwhelming teams with an avalanche of details, timelines, deliverables and action items; without bothering with the motivation aspect. The result? Pushback from the team and attempts to avoid the work.

3. Give regular updates. Often, different team members are working on different aspects of the same project and the “left hand” does not know what the “right hand” is doing. This gives rise to not only glitches in the smooth execution of the project, it also fosters a climate of “us” vs “them” amongst the teams; allowing team A to blame team B and vice versa.

Break down these silos by keeping everyone on the same page through regular updates. Motivate the individual project teams by keeping them posted on how each different team is contributing towards the completion of the project as a whole. Keep them encouraged and focused on the end goal, by updating them as to how much has already been completed and how much is left to go.

4. Celebrate victories. Employees are people too. Just like you, they want to be appreciated, and they want to feel that their contribution is recognized. Just like you, they do not want to be treated as though they do not count.

So, use these common attributes to your advantage. Be watchful for things that have been done right, find out who led or drove that particular project, and be sure to celebrate the victory and express your appreciation to the employee who made it happen. This could be done in a variety of ways. The employee(s) could be publicly congratulated. Or, you might wish to speak to them privately. Sometimes, a well-worded, congratulatory email might be the best way to approach the matter.

In conclusion, a Manager must take responsibility to motivate your team and invest in them for better results. The more your subordinates feel that you genuinely do have their interests at heart, the more likely it is that they will go the extra mile for you.


Personal finance author and trainer

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