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4 Demotivators That Will Cost You

Keeping everyone on your team focused and motivated is not easy, especially if you fall into one or more of these common traps.
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If you feel that people are the most valuable asset at a business--and we certainly do--it's important to keep everyone motivated and sailing towards the same port. Recently, we wrote about three things business leaders can do to motivate their team. Equally important is what you should avoid doing.

1. Don't motivate solely on salary.

Salary might be why someone leaves your firm, but it won't be why they stay. Paying a competitive salary is table stakes, but it's an extrinsic motivator. To tap into people's intrinsic motivation, focus on creating an environment that encourages everyone to take ownership, communicate the purpose behind the work, and maintain a positive environment that encourages the open exchange of ideas. Cash-based incentives can help to deliver results in the short term, but long-term success requires a higher form of motivation.

2. Don't multitask when you're meeting with people.

There's no quicker way to undermine the importance of your employees than by actively engaging with your cell phone, laptop, or tablet during meetings. By not giving your full attention to the team, they will feel second rate and less motivated. Leaders must set the tone that everyone's time is valuable and that people deserve full attention when discussing business issues.

3. Don't deliver mixed messages.

Delivering different messages to different people is an easy trap to fall into, but it's exactly that--a trap. Communicate consistently to increase efficiency and give people the complete confidence that the game of telephone won't be played in your organization. While using different styles with different audiences is a critical part of being a successful leader, don't confuse this with tweaking the actual content of your message because you perceive different parties might want to hear different things.

4. Don't stifle creativity by shooting down 'dumb' ideas.

Creating and sharing ideas is part of a healthy work environment. By quickly shooting down people's ideas, you're likely to stifle creativity. Next time you're faced with an idea you're not initially fond of--and there will be lots of them--try using this idea as the launching point for a broader brainstorming session. Encourage the creation of long lists of potential solutions to a problem. Ideas one through 10 on the brainstorm list are likely to be straightforward, but by the time you get to idea 25, 52, or 78, you might really experience a breakthrough. New ideas to solve problems are the essence of successful companies, so be sure to create a culture where ideas are treasured, not trashed.

Avoiding these common traps will help business leaders create lasting motivation for their teams.

Send us your thoughts at karlandbill@avondalestrategicpartners.com

Avondale's Bradley Hoos contributed to this article.

IMAGE: williambrawley/Flickr
Last updated: Dec 19, 2012

KARL STARK AND BILL STEWART | Columnist | Co-founders, Avondale

Karl Stark and Bill Stewart are managing directors and co-founders of Avondale, a strategic advisory firm focused on growing companies. Avondale, based in Chicago, is a high-growth company itself and is a two-time Inc. 500 honoree.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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