Don't inadvertently uninspire your employees

| by Doug Fleener
Don't inadvertently uninspire your employees

I often talk and write about how to inspire your employees, but it is just as important to make sure you're not inadvertently uninspiring them. Here are eight ways I see leaders uninspire their teams — and they don't even realize they're doing it.

1. Not recognizing extra effort. I once had an associate tell me he only did the bare minimum of what was expected. After I got over my initial shock at his bluntness and asked why, he said it was because the manager never said a word when he did go above and beyond. She never thanked anyone. She never said a word. This person finally decided if that if his manager didn't care, neither did he. I knew this manager well, and she did care. She just didn't take the time to say it. She fixed that pretty quickly and the store was once again humming along.

2. Not addressing poor performance or unacceptable behavior. Nothing is more uninspiring to a motivated staff than knowing not only that someone else on the team isn't pulling her/his weight, but that the manager isn't doing anything about it. I've seen this ruin a store's holiday. Don't let that happen to you.

3. Posting negative memos and signs in the backroom. I visited a store where the manager had posted a sign in the break room that read, "QUIT BEING SLOBS. I AM NOT YOUR MOTHER. PICK UP AFTER YOURSELF!!!!"  

Yep, there's how you inspire people ... call them slobs, "shout" by using all capital letters, and finish with four exclamation marks. Not surprisingly, it wasn't an especially happy environment for either the staff or the customers. A sign reading, "Please keep this area clean" or "Please pick-up after yourself" would have been a much better approach.

4. Dwelling on the negative. A manager I once worked for invariably highlighted the store falling $300 short of goal instead of recognizing the $4,700 in sales. Yes, of course we sometimes need to talk about difficult topics or discuss falling short. Do it, get it over with, and move on.

5. Over praising. It will eventually fall on deaf ears. People need and want a balanced viewpoint. I like to tell people what they're doing well and what they can improve.

6. Always "improving" the employee's work. Some leaders do this to try to make things better, and some leaders do it to have the final say. Whatever the motive, people eventually conclude that they can never make the manager or owner happy. When that happens, work is not a fun place to be. If you want to help your people improve, then teach and coach them on how to do it. 

7. Blaming others or outside circumstances. Employees want to be successful. They want to make you and the company proud. They believe when you believe. And if they're hearing what isn't being done or why things aren't the way they should be, that's what they'll believe. You have big influence on your employee's beliefs. Be careful how you use that power.

8. Not giving your team the tools and training to be successful. An owner once told me that his holiday training consisted of telling his employees to just do things faster. I sure hope he was joking! It's important to give your team the knowledge and skills they need to be successful this holiday. A lot of companies and leaders think they're training their team for the holidays, but too often they're just sharing information.

A good training should result in your employees knowing what they can walk out on the floor and do better, differently, more, less, etc. Then doing it.

So let me ask, and this is something that you might answer with your entire leadership team, how are you inspiring your staff? And how might you be inadvertently uninspiring them? What can you do differently to inspire your team to win every customer and maximize every opportunity this holiday?

(Photo by Cory Doctorow.)

Topics: Customer Service, Employee Training

Doug Fleener
Doug Fleener, the former director of retail for Bose Corporation, is president and managing partner of Dynamic Experiences Group LLC, a proven retail and customer experience firm that works with progressive retailers and other customer-focused companies. wwwView Doug Fleener's profile on LinkedIn

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