A lack of motivation at work can manifest itself in many different ways. Maybe an employee misses a deadline here or there, or their work isn't up to their usual high standards. Don't ignore these signs. Take proactive steps to understand where they're coming from and what it will take to get them back on track.
These six entrepreneurs share their tips for reigniting the passion of a valued member of your team -- before you lose them.
Ask when, then why.
You can't fix the problem if you don't know the reason behind it. Stanley Meytin, CEO and creative director of video production company True Film Production, first pinpoints when the lackluster feelings started in order to hone in on the why.
"When my best animator wasn't asking me questions all day, I knew something was up. He didn't know why at first, but we figured out that he became unmotivated when we set a concrete number on project timelines. He felt he was prioritizing quantity over quality and no longer creatively expressing himself," says Meytin. "Root out when first, then why. Every situation is different but the answer always lies in why."
Offer a new challenge.
To break an employee out of their funk, Marcela De Vivo, CMO of working capital lender Mulligan Funding, breaks up their day-to-day routine. Evaluate what they are good at and assign them to an entirely new task, or even a new role.
"Monotony kills motivation. When we notice an employee seems disengaged, we offer to rearrange their workflow so that they can get involved in new, challenging projects," she says. "Our outreach director had been doing an exemplary job for years but was growing disconnected. She did an excellent job when supporting a PR campaign, so we tasked her with creating new PR processes. The role helped her become invested again."
Uncover the underlying issue.
"I like to have a private conversation with an employee in this situation. Often, there is a problem in their personal lives," says Michael Dash, CEO and president of technology staffing partner Parallel HR Solutions. Sometimes the solution is as simple as approaching the employee with compassion, rather than accusations, and offering your support.
"They could benefit from some negotiated time off while they handle a medical or personal situation," says Dash. "Other times, there is a problem inside the office. That one is easier for me to solve. When someone has a good reputation, I give them the benefit of the doubt first."
Ask them to develop a career plan.
Show your employees that you are invested in their futures -- before a valued member of your team decides to leave. After experiencing this firsthand, Brett Farmiloe, founder and CEO of digital marketing agency Markitors, engaged employees by asking them to share their career goals.
"We recently had a valued employee quit. This was the first time an employee we wanted to keep decided to leave. In response, we asked all employees to develop an action plan for themselves, including their career vision, objectives, initiatives and tactics," he says. "By shifting career ownership from employer to employee, we've seen a shift in engagement."
Provide a change of scenery.
Bryce Welker, founder and CEO of CPA review site CPA Exam Guy, knows that a change of pace can jumpstart an employee's motivation. But if a new project isn't in the works, allow them to switch up their environment instead.
"The easy answer to this issue is to simply assign your team member a different or more challenging task. However, in cases where this isn't feasible, the next best tactic is to change their work environment. This could mean relocating team members to different work environments or allowing them to work from home. That small change could be all that's needed to get their motivation back."
Encourage personal projects.
"Many bored and unchallenged employees will start a personal project that they are more passionate about on the side," says Jared Atchison, co-founder of WordPress form builder WPForms. This is a great opportunity to harness their passion to revitalize their motivation at work.
"Whether it's blogging, creating YouTube videos or killing it on Instagram, chances are your unmotivated employee is more passionate about something else," he says. "Figure out a way to align that passion with your business and build a team of mini entrepreneurs."