10 Management Mistakes

Motivation Killers

Managers are trained to motivate their employees in all possible ways. They don't have to. It is quite enough not to demotivate their employees. The best lesson in employee engagement is shockingly simple and doesn't even cost anything: stop demotivating. More and more companies come up with new and ever more expensive benefits in order to first recruit and then retain employees. Creating motivation costs you a lot. This is not necessary at all. As a rule, employees have a healthy dose of motivation and are passionate about new tasks, but also too often confronted demotivation.

A popular example comes from the insurance industry. A group had proclaimed the "year of life insurance". All employees pulled together and did everything in their power to increase the life insurance business. And indeed. With extreme exertion, they achieved a plus of 50 percent. At the end-of-year party, the CEO thanked them, and the workforce was in the mood for a party. And then the boss said this one sentence that drove the mood down: “... and next year we will increase this amount by another 30 percent. That is our new annual target!”. Keeping the result would be a success. After all, all employees had subordinated themselves to one goal, put other tasks aside, sacrificed themselves. Increasing the result again seemed impossible. The praise fizzled out, it sounded almost like a reproach, after: “There is still room for improvement.” Nobody could be happy about what had been achieved that evening. The motivation killer had fired a shot.

The National Business Research Institute in Texas has devoted a study to the subject of demotivation and compiled a list of how managers take the fun out of their work and thus endanger the productivity of the company.

These are the ten biggest motivation killers:


The boss should be a shining example. Skeptics, cynics and complainers, who talk badly and prefer to criticize rather than praise, kill motivation in the long run. If everything is bad anyway, why should the employees tear themselves apart?


Money is not everything. But little money can lead to a lot of resentment. The salary structure in a company should be balanced, and pay should be based on performance. Those who do a lot and good should also get paid for that. Because the salary is always a sign of appreciation. But if performance is not reflected on the payslip, there is a risk that the employee will soon only work according to regulations. Because Helmut Kohl was right in this: "Achievement must be worthwhile."


Anyone who believes the boss has him on the kieker or is afraid of losing their job because consultants and optimizers are constantly wandering the corridors of the company will not do the best work. Even if some bosses believe that the pressure will encourage them to work harder. But those who fear for their existence rarely have a clear head for their job. Rather, he struggles with worries and fear of the future.


The number one motivational killer is stress. In the short term, stress can help to improve performance. On the other hand, constant pressure is hazardous to health and kills motivation. Anyone who sleeps poorly because of stress, struggles to get out of bed in the morning and is reluctant to drag themselves to work, will not be able to motivate themselves to work. It is a fallacy that motivation can be built up through pressure.


Anyone who does a good job is proud of it. And would like to be praised for it too. A simple "thank you" can work wonders. Praise and recognition are still the best motivations. But the superiors often overlook the outstanding work and only react if there is a mistake. Goodbye motivation.


Even bosses can do better with some employees than with others. Clearly, they're only human too. But sympathy should not be a measure for judging the work. It also has a catastrophic effect on the morale of the team when the supervisor publicly demonstrates the employees he is not so good with.


Decisions from the executive suite are often controversial among employees. It is easy to say, “those up there” or “those in their ivory tower”. It seems like the decisions are made by the grassroots. If employees have the impression that they are not even heard before making decisions that directly affect their work, this can lead to a severe loss of motivation.

Waste of time

A normal working day is tightly timed. Time wasters that bring nothing are all the more annoying. Meetings with the entire team, where the problem could be better resolved bilaterally. A bombardment of emails that repeatedly tears you out of your concentrated work. Always new tasks, although the old ones are not yet done. Those who do not find enough time to complete their tasks are quickly demotivated.

Roar around

Everybody can sometimes lose the self-control. Even the boss. It can, but it shouldn't. Because nothing is more unprofessional. Nobody likes to be yelled at, especially not in front of colleagues. Bosses who shout a lot first lose respect in the team and then the team lose their motivation. After all, who wants to waste their energy and time on someone who has a tantrum at every opportunity? Even if it can get hectic at times, an objective and professional tone must always prevail.


Bosses who isolate themselves, keep to themselves, save on feedback and are so stressed that they can hardly listen, make employees feel that they are not interested in them. Demotivation is then only a matter of time.