Luigi Sille
260 Posts

Sometimes an entire organization can become demotivated.

As a manager and or leader, JUST LOOK INTO a MIRROR and ask
yourself the following question:

This is URGENT, and requires immediate action to prevent
it from becoming TERMINAL. (You start losing employees)

Just remember:
A leader/ manager can BUILD or DESTROY an entire organization.

10 Replies

Start by asking: What motivates someone? Why do people work? Why do people work here specifically?

Employees are motivated by:

Compensation - Pay, Incentives, Bonuses, and Profit Sharing among others.

Benefits - Health, Retirement, Personal Development opportunities, etc.

Affiliation - Work environment, Citizenship or Service, Organizational Commitment, Trust

Work Content - Variety, Challenge, Autonomy, Meaningfulness, and Feedback

Career - Advancement, Personal growth, Training, and Security

If your company is struggling with demotivated workers, look into each of those categories.

Also, look to see if your company is making some of the classic mistakes that lead to poor employee morale, such as:

Micromanaging, Unnecessary red tape, Inconsistent management, Poor communication, Lack of flexibility, Lack of Transparency, Equality, Retention of toxic workers, Inappropriate workloads, and not encouraging employee inputs.

While there are many possible factors, I believe that the most prevalent reason for generally low levels of motivation is that traditional “command and control” management is inherently disrespectful of workers, because the manager is in effect saying “just do what I tell you.” Basically, workers are respected for their hands but not for their minds. And if you don't respect their minds, it's unlikely that you'll ever get to their hearts.

Traditional management is still largely based on Theory X beliefs while more progressive management styles favor Theory Y beliefs (MacGregor 1960) …

Theory X - “People are lazy and must therefore be motivated with economic incentives and be controlled by constant surveillance … Employees are intrinsically in conflict with their employing organization.”

Theory Y - “People are basically self-motivated and therefore need to be challenged and channeled, not controlled … It is possible to design organizations that enable employee needs to be congruent with organizational needs.”

Oops … misspelled his name. Correct citation is:

McGregor, Douglas. The Human Side of Enterprise. New York, McGraw-Hill, 1960.

Yes, David! Theory X styles can be particularly toxic during times of organizational change leading to Luigi's concept of a leader becoming a destroyer.

Change - of almost any kind - can destabilize an organization, cause uncertainty and stress, and redirect employees' energies toward fear/self-protection and away from the production and satisfaction of work.

A manager in a leadership position is not a leader by default. Or at least not an effective leader. Motivational leaders understand that their roles are as conductors or guides to provide direction for the organization toward its goals. Leaders lead teams; they don't (shouldn't) do all the work themselves. Leaders need to take the time to get to know the people on the team (see Robert's list).

One of the fastest paths to a demotivated workforce is the disengagement of the workers from the team and spirit of an organization.

An environment of TRUST is one of the most powerful motivators. While one of DIS-TRUST is equally powerful as a demotivator. While this has always been an issue but today with forcing employees back into an office, after they have demonstrated their effectiveness in working from home is a prime example of management DIS -TRUST. I am not speaking here of occupations that require presence or hands on work inside an organization. Stephen Covey had a lot to say on this topic in his book "The Speed of Trust"

Another demotivator that managers are faced with is treating all employees EQUITABLY without treating everyone the SAME WAY. This is one of the more difficult but at the same time rewarding practices a manager can develop. As humans we all have the need to be treated fairly but each of us comes at this slightly differently. So, it is up to leaders to invoke practices that show equitable treatment of all employees while addressing their individual needs. Dr. Birkman who developed the Birkman Method for developing teams and individuals brought this clearly into light.

Michael C. Bush and his team created a wonderful resource entitled "A Great Place to Work for All". It explores the topics I have presented as well as many more. While based on research conducted a few years ago, the concepts have real application to creating a vibrant and motivated workplace in today's post Pandemic world.

Great question @Luigi Sille ! I speak about it, and how organizations can over come it, all the time!

Also, here in ASQ, we have a great resource - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum lead by @Norm Howe and @Jeff Veyera. We are just starting a podcast that explores this topic from different lenses with a wide variety of guests. I suggest you listen! It's called Fear in the Workplace and the first episode just dropped yesterday.

Come join us and let's create some trust, share tools and ideas, and make the workplace attractive again.

Take care,


Yes, @Lizabeth Wesely-Casella , this was a great question. As a member of the ASQ Lean Enterprise Division, I feel that there are important insights to be gained in terms of motivation by understanding the pillars of Lean management.

Many descriptions of Lean refer to the two pillars of Continuous Improvement and Respect for People. In a sense, the Continuous Improvement pillar is implemented through various techniques like 5S organizing, standard work, and waste elimination while the Respect for People pillar is implemented by the WAY in which these techniques are deployed. The Continuous Improvement techniques produce tangible performance gains, but the Respect for People approach acts to amplify those gains and to help make them sustainable because employees feel trusted and respected and are more committed to the effort.

From the perspective of the manager, Lean can be viewed as a true management method in addition to being viewed as a process improvement method. From this viewpoint, the greatest value of Lean may lie in its use as a culture-building tool that can be applied to emphasize respect and build trusting relationships. For organizational and team leaders, Lean management can be a great complement to other effective trust-building tools like the Birkman Method – thanks to @Lindsey Howard for that reference.

One of the best examples of Lean applied as a true management method is CITY Furniture, a market leader and rapidly expanding furniture retailer in Florida. Their CEO, Andrew Koenig, has literally transformed the company over the past 15 years by applying Lean throughout the organization. Andrew will be presenting his experiences next Monday, April 25, in a public webinar. Here is the registration link for those who might be interested: https://broward.score.org/event/lean-way-growing-employees-who-love-what-they-do .

Luigi Sille
260 Posts

Oh YES Lizabeth, I definitely will join.

@davidhinds - you sound like you'd be a great interview for the podcast. Would you be interested? If so, email me at Lizabeth@L12Services.com and we can discuss the schedule!

The current job market provides a source of this de-motivation as well. Workers are becoming progressively harder to find today, therefore existing workers are stuck with extraneous, smothering workloads. Then, said workload reaches a critical mass (which is different for everyone), and then as Dee Snyder once put it: “We're not going to take it anymore…” And someone leaves the organization.

Unfortunately, this only compounds the problem, potentially exponentially, when that someone has had enough and leaves the organization. The existing workers who were already overworked are now absorbing the impossible workload of the person that left. And then another one reaches their “critical mass” and leaves the organization. The workload is re-distributed and someone else reaches their “critical mass”… and so on.

Regards to the “critical mass” I mentioned earlier, as I said is different for everyone. This is where mental and physical health plays a role. People may get “fed up” because they are working long hours, impacting their home life, which can lead to serious relationship problems. Others may work such long hours for so long that it impacts their physical health, spawning chronic illnesses, which left unchecked may lead to major or terminal illness. Recall, that stress is the most powerful and damaging force within the human body.

In terms of workers being hard to find I do struggle to understand this concept. Afterall, the unemployment rate is not a negative number. I'd like to think that people leaving the workforce today have somehow found a tropical island to live out their days, with no worries or regard for the cost of living. Obviously, that's just a fantasy. Most likely, people are just transitioning to new or different career fields.