Energizing Your Team by Boosting Motivation

employee sitting in front of a laptop with head low and hands on forehead

Your top performer has always gone above and beyond to get things done and has regularly offered ideas and suggestions for improvement. They have exceeded your expectations and you have been able to delegate more responsibility and grant autonomy as a result. Lately, you begin to realize that your star performer is not offering as many suggestions as they used to and is more sick or absent than usual. In fact, they seem demotivated, distracted, and unengaged and you are concerned about their lack of enthusiasm.  It’s a common problem that affects everyone, but it becomes an issue when the employee cannot seem to get their groove back.

According to Gallup there are 3 classifications of employee engagement; engaged, not engaged, and actively disengaged.  The ‘not engaged’ often blend in with the rest of the workforce but they lack the passion and drive that they previously had and may be spending a vast amount of time on social media.  They show up but they ‘mail it in’ and don’t apply much effort. The actively disengaged individuals are simply not happy at work and frustrated in their role.  They may even be looking for another job.

Here are some possible causes why your top performers may be feeling unmotivated:
  1. Lack of Challenge: When your top performer is spending most of their time helping to pick up the slack of colleagues and focusing on tasks that drag them down, they may feel unchallenged and under utilized. Without new problems to solve or difficult projects to accomplish, they can become bored and disengaged.
  2. Burnout: Even your top performers can experience burnout if they’re consistently working at a high level without adequate breaks or support. Burnout may be mental, physical, or emotional exhaustion which may lead to a lack of motivation and reduced levels of productivity.
  3. Lack of Recognition: If your top performer feels that their hard work and accomplishments are not being recognized or rewarded, they may become demotivated. When you fail to recognize your employees, their morale is affected, and they can start to feel unappreciated.
  4. Stagnation: Your top performer may feel that their career has reached a plateau and that there are limited opportunities for growth or advancement within the organization. This can lead to feelings of boredom, and they may begin to look for opportunities elsewhere.
  5. Personal Reasons: Unmotivated behaviour can sometimes be linked to personal reasons outside of work, such as health problems, family issues, or financial worries. These external factors may not only affect an individual’s ability to focus and perform at their best, but it can have a negative effect on team members as well.
  6. Poor Work Environment: A toxic or unsupportive work environment can demotivate even the most talented and dedicated employees.  If your top performer feels undervalued, micromanaged, or unsupported by their colleagues or manager, their motivation and performance may suffer.
  7. Lack of Feedback and Development Opportunities: Without regular feedback and opportunities for learning and development, your top performer may feel like they’re stalled and not progressing in their career.  This lack of feedback can lead to feelings of disengagement and apathy.

Whatever the issue, it’s essential to start understanding their work slump by asking questions and listening to their concerns.  Have an open and honest conversation and try to find out what drives them and what they hope to accomplish in their job or personal life.   The role of leader is to keep their high performers consistently motivated which is key to retaining top talent. 

Reigniting your top talent’s engagement level is vital. Here are a few tips to help get you started:
  1. Set Clear Goals: Clearly define short-term and long-term goals for the team and make sure these goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bounded (SMART).  People like purpose and knowing the direction they are headed towards. You want the goals to be achievable, but you may want to stretch the goals of the top performer.
  2.  Empower your team members: Give them autonomy and ownership over their work and allow them to make decisions and take responsibility for their tasks. Support them to implement some of their ideas. This may be what they need to get their groove back.
  1. Offer Recognition and Rewards: Recognize and reward your team for their hard work and achievements.  This can be done in various ways such as praise, bonuses, promotions, or other forms of recognition. By acknowledging their accomplishments, you can help improve engagement and retention. Let them know their efforts are appreciated.
  1. Foster a culture of Open Communication: Provide a comfortable setting for employees to share ideas, concerns, and feedback.  Actively listen to their input and involve them in decision-making. Effective communication with your team members will encourage them to take accountability in their roles.
  1. Reflect on your Leadership: It can take a high degree of emotional intelligence for a manager to identify the reasons behind an employee’s slump and their contribution to it. It’s hard to admit but it’s possible that your leadership style could be responsible for your employee or team’s demotivation. Perhaps your team feels unappreciated, underutilized or unrewarded.  It can take a single act of verbally acknowledging their accomplishments to make them feel valued. Remember to also lead by example and demonstrate enthusiasm. Your attitude and behaviour will influence the motivation of your team members.
  1. Encourage Collaboration: Collaboration is important as it improves the way your team works together and solves problems.  Provide opportunities for your team members to work together on projects and share knowledge and expertise.
  1. Offer Opportunities to Learn and Grow: Support the professional development of team members by providing training, mentoring, and opportunities for growth.  Help them acquire new knowledge and skills, allowing them to work more efficiently. It can improve productivity but also help them develop confidence and recognize they are succeeding.
  1. Create a Positive Work Environment: Foster a positive work environment that promotes trust, respect, and camaraderie among team members.  Organize team-building activities, celebrate successes, and promote a sense of belonging.
  1. Offer Flexibility: Recognize that everyone has different work preferences and life obligations.  Offer flexibility in work schedules and arrangements to accommodate individual needs and promote work-life balance.

By implementing these strategies, you can help energize your team members and boost motivation levels, leading to increased productivity and job satisfaction. Your top performer’s worst nightmare is stagnation, and it might be time to think outside of the box and determine how you will keep them challenged.  It’s up to you to do everything possible to keep your team engaged and energized!  Contact Bridge Legal and HR Solutions for practical guidance on employee engagement at (647) 794-5442 or info@bridgelegalhr.ca.


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