Posted on / Updated on / in Blog & Employee Morale & Employee Relations /

Last week we discussed the top 4 ways on how to increase employee motivation by eliminating or minimizing four de-motivating behaviors of managers, but we left one up for grabs. The last de-motivating behavior we’d like to talk about which completes the top 5 list is:

Over-Supervision (aka micromanaging)– Did you ever have an employee that seems to turn in low quality work that just barely meets deadlines? Perhaps they just need a little bit of accountability.

This concept is nothing new. Some call it micromanaging, but whatever you want to call this phenomenon, and even though its taught over and over again, it’s still all too common in the workplace, especially for less experienced managers.

It’s true. The title supervisor or manager implicitly means that you are in a supervisory role and you are responsible for the work of your staff, but that doesn’t mean your job is to stand over their shoulder and/or second guess everything they do.

By making it a constant habit to routinely check up on everything your employees are doing or require that they have approval before moving forward on a project you are essentially setting them up for failure.

In the Mind of an Employee This Does a Few Things:

1.) It sends a message that you do not trust their work

2.) It sends the message that they are not accountable for the work that they do

3.) It slows down the work that they can get accomplished because it gets caught in a check and recheck loop

One can imagine that if an employee feels they are not trusted they are only going to care enough not to get fired (a la Peter Gibbons in Office Space). An employee who is not trusted is not going to put forth any extra effort to do their job well. One can also imagine that if an employee knows they are not accountable for their mistakes they really have no reason not to make them, now do they?

Yes, it is sometimes difficult to completely let go, and obviously you never can or you wouldn’t be doing your job as a manager, but if you are having similar troubles it may be the case that your employees just need a little bit of accountability.

If you think you have an employee that you can’t trust to do a job correctly without this kind of over-supervision then perhaps it is time to re-evaluate why exactly that person works for you, or at least try a different approach for their training.

So Let’s Review All 5 Ways to Increase Motivation by Eliminating Demotivation.

1.)   Provide constant and efficient feedback

2.)   Communicate clearly, and be sure to gain agreement

3.)   Ask for and accept input from your employees

4.)   Avoid favoritism

5.)   Promote accountability and trust your employees

Following these five steps will be a huge step forward in turning a negative environment into a positive one.

Can you think of any other demotivating behaviors that managers engage in that we haven’t listed here?  Feel free to share your comments.

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about the author: Amy Letke

Amy Newbanks Letke, SPHR, GPHR, is the Founder of Integrity HR, Inc. Amy provides workplace solutions to improve performance, reduce liability and increase profits. She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and business owners achieve success.

currently there's 1 comment(s) Would you like to add your thoughts?

  • Cody Wheeler

    commented on October 29, 2010 at 9:55 am

    It’s a terrible thing to have the motivation to want to do more and to grow in a position only to be shut down by a manager who is already demotivated or disengaged themselves.

    Without knowing the history between you and your manager and the dynamics of your workplace, it’s hard to say why you got the response you did.

    However, I do have a couple of suggestions should you approach her again and the get the same response:

    1.) If she’s focusing on things other than your conversation, I would politely suggest to her that you don’t want to interrupt her and maybe now isn’t a good time to talk, but that you do want to have a discussion with her regarding your goals and ideas for improvement, and then ask if you could set up an appointment with her to have this discussion at a time when it is convenient and there will be no distractions.

    2.) When you do have your meeting, come with your own suggestions and ideas, and have them written down. You don’t need to provide a thesis, just a simple outline or meeting agenda so that she can see you are serious and have given this some thought. Having the meeting agenda will also help keep focus on the topic at hand. Also make this as non-confrontational as possible. Sometimes people get amped up in these situations. You want to maintain your control so you don’t encourage a defensive reaction.

    I hope this helps. If the meeting still ends with her suggestion that you move to another department, she may be right — having a poor manager can make even a good job miserable and it may be time to move.

    I’d suggest you check out our Bad Bosses blog series. This may help you get to the bottom of how you can handle your situation.

    Bad Bosses Blog Series: