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How to Motivate Staff With Low Morale in 7 Easy Steps

Introduction

I’ve spoken before about how to motivate your employees and we’ve touched on the best techniques you can implement to create a highly motivated environment where your teams can flourish but what about those members of your team that find it more difficult to be motivated?

For these employees, motivation can seem pretty elusive sometimes but it doesn’t have to be. There will always be employees who take to motivation quickly and are able to self-motivate with little encouragement from you so, conversely, there will be some members of staff with naturally low morale. This can make your job as a leader and motivator that little bit more difficult.

But no need to fear! This type of employee isn’t doomed to a life of low motivation, they simply respond to different methods than the others.

So, what are the techniques for motivating staff with low morale? Here are my 7 easy steps for doing so…

  1. Find the Root Cause
  2. Reduce Their Stress Levels
  3. Be Clear About Your Vision
  4. Offer Them More Control
  5. Provide Regular Recognition
  6. Promote From Within
  7. Feedback is Always Useful

1. Find the Root Cause

Find Root Cause

The first step to dealing with an employee who is suffering from a lack of motivation is to discover where their low morale is coming from. Then, and only then, can you start to turn that around. 

So, what’s the best way to discover the root cause of the employee’s low morale? There are a few ways to do this but the best way is to simply ask them. Set up a meeting and confront the issue directly. You might be surprised by how forthcoming they are when given the opportunity to voice their displeasures.

As mentioned, some of the techniques you might be using on the rest of the team might not work for them. This is their opportunity to tell you that they aren’t motivated by a reward system, for example. However, you can’t simply do this once and expect them to have an answer for you on the spot.

It’s important to bring the topic up and keep their morale on their mind going forward. Ask them to think about why it might be so low and to come to you with their answer when the time is right for them. Once you have their answer, you can begin to work with them to see their level of morale begin to rise.

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2. Reduce Their Stress Levels

Reduce Stress Levels

I’ve spoken about this in another article. One of the biggest causes of low morale is working in a stressful environment.

You might be under the impression that, when your staff are stressed, it means they are working hard to achieve the goals you’ve set them. Don’t be mistaken by thinking that stress brings success. It doesn’t.

Stress is a sign that your employees are taking on too much work in their roles and is evidence of inefficient planning and ineffective workload distribution. This could be the reason for your staff’s low morale. Remember, a stressed workforce is an unmotivated workforce.

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3. Be Clear About Your Vision

Be Clear About Your Vision

A lack of morale doesn’t have to be a disaster. Some employees might just be harder to win over. 

There might be many in your team who are able to motivate themselves easily but there are others who need a helping hand to understand exactly what you want from them and how that fits into the wider vision of the business. 

It might seem obvious to you but, as a team member with set objectives for their tasks, it can often be hard to see the bigger picture. This kind of tunnel vision is one of the main reasons for a lack of morale and motivation. 

This is all about transparency in what you expect. Keep them in the loop, outline their value to your vision and don’t let them forget it. Hold regular sessions where you update or reaffirm them on the vision of the business and what you expect of them to help achieve it. Once they fully understand their value their morale is sure to improve.

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4. Offer Them More Control

Offer More Control

A great way to keep morale high is to offer employees an opportunity to move their role in a direction that suits them. If there’s something specific about their roles that is demotivating them, try to resolve it. 

Ask them what about their roles could be improved and what training could be provided to help them progress and make the role one that they are motivated to do. Sometimes all you need to turn a low morale employee into a highly motivated team member is to give them control over their role.

Your low morale employees might be crying out to diversify their roles and all you need to do is listen and provide the guidance and training they need to start performing for the team.

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5. Provide Regular Recognition

Regular Recognition

I’ve spoken before about the value of offering rewards to members of your team as a motivational device and the validity of this point still stands. However, every employee is different and it’s important to remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to motivating multiple team members.

Despite how accessible you make the system appear to your team, some members simply won’t find value in this type of recognition or they’ll see the rewards as unattainable for them.

If they aren’t prepared to take part in the reward system and wait for formal recognition, that might not be the way they like to receive feedback. For these employees, it's a good idea to offer regular positive feedback based on their performance. Give them regular reviews and tell them directly when and how they’ve performed well rather than through an award.

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6. Promote From Within

Promote From Within

A major reason you might see your employees’ motivation levels drop off is if they see their progression stunted as you fill senior roles with those from outside the company.

If your staff see you looking outside the business when looking to fill positions above them, they’ll begin to see no clear route for them to progress and they'll become demotivated as a result. Similar to the vision of the business, demonstrate the plan you have for them by promoting from within.

If you’re uncomfortable about promoting staff from inside the company to senior roles then you haven’t developed them well enough. Great leaders have an abundance of current employees that are ready to be promoted and take the company forward.

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7. Feedback is Always Useful

Feedback Is Always Useful

I’ve spoken about it before, feedback from your team is absolutely vital to understanding what makes them tick. When you understand that, you are able to lead them accordingly.

Feedback offers insight into how each member of your team responds to your methods and your efforts to boost motivation. When done right, feedback will give you each member’s individual motivators and will display their differences.

With this, you can tailor the way you treat each member of staff to their specific motivators and, in an ideal world, you shouldn’t have employees who suffer from a lack of morale.

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Remember, being a great leader is all about responding to the different personalities in your team. The issue you are facing is that every employee is different and you need to be versatile and adapt your style for every team member as long as it doesn’t conflict with your core beliefs.

We’ve all suffered from low morale at some stage, so try to recall that time and find the cause before you attempt to resolve it.

Every success,

Graham

About the author

Graham Wilson

Graham Wilson

I enjoy and specialise in teaching leadership skills, how to create winning strategies, how to build high performance cultures. Outcomes and results are the most important measures for me!