5 leadership mistakes that trigger employee demotivation

For companies, employee demotivation represents a black hole for money. First, unmotivated employees are less productive than their more motivated peers. And second, we damage brand image and cultural values if we allow our staff to be continually low in morale. 

Most team managers use one of these two approaches when they notice that one of their team members is starting to lack energy: 

  • Reward techniques : “Do your job and I will give you a prize in return” 
  • Punitive techniques : “Do your job or go away”. 

These are two approaches that are very effective in the short term. However, they do not last over time and, in the long run, end up making the situation worse. 

In addition, we must add the problem that each employee is motivated by a different thing. There are people who work to have a payroll at the end of the month, other people who want to put into practice what they are good at, and others who want to contribute to helping society. 

Actually, there are so many motivators that, as a leader, it’s very difficult to hit the right button every time. 

The good news is that you don’t have to because, as we just said, every person comes to work motivated by default. 

The bad news is that your job is to maintain that motivation, and there are many ways you can harm it if you don’t treat your employees with care. 

Motivation is like a plant: it needs to be watered every day. Be constant, and your company will enjoy a stimulated workforce to give its best. But if you make too many mistakes, you will end up with a discouraged organization. 

Lucky for you, you have come to the right place. Because in this article we present the 5 most common mistakes that leaders make when managing their collaborators that trigger employee demotivation. 

Read carefully, because knowing them will help you identify what are you doing wrong, and prevent you from repeating them from now on and thus become the best manager for your team, the one you’ve always wanted for yourself. 

The 5 Mistakes Leaders Make That Demotivate Employees 

1. Not showing interest in your collaborators

Have you heard about management by walking around? This type of talent management involves taking a walk from time to time in the employees’ workspace. 

Far from being a tactic to watch that everyone is working properly, it’s a perfect opportunity to create productive dialogues in which, as a manager, you can strike up a natural conversation and find out how employees are doing both at work and personally. 

So, motivation has a lot to do with the interpersonal relationships that are generated between supervisor and employee. 

We know that your work takes up a lot of your time. But remember that, as a manager, you will be much more effective if you know the circumstances in which your employees find themselves , what they are worried about, what interests them and what makes them happy. 

For this reason, it’s worth paying small visits to the staff and asking them how their day went, how they spent their vacations, and if they have any problems that you can help them with. 

Thanks to this, you will be building bonds of trust, you will show them that you really care about them and you will make them feel valued as people and not just a resource. 

2. Not listening to your employees

How many times have you tried to communicate something important, but after so many times you have been cut off or prevented from speaking, in the end you have been silent and have not said anything? 

When this happens repeatedly, your feelings are frustration and helplessness that ends up taking its toll on your mood. And the worst thing is that you know that whoever was supposed to listen to you is missing out on a great opportunity to learn valuable information. 

Well, it’s the same with employees. As a leader, you have to be willing to listen carefully to everything your workforce has to say. By doing so, you’ll be showing that their opinions matter and that you value all their inputs. 

Using Team Insights your employees will be able to communicate with you, publicly or anonymously, whenever they need to, and they will be able to contribute with ideas, suggestions or complaints while you will be able to answer them directly. 


3. Not recognizing achievements

According to a study by Gallup, only a third of employees feel recognized. The same report points out that 57% of employees who do not feel valued are not motivated enough to commit to their organization. 

You have to show your team that you value hard work. And to do so, it is not necessary to invest large sums of money in prizes. Just say thank you. 

In public or in private, recognizing the efforts of your collaborators on a daily basis will boost their motivation. When employees feel that you appreciate their work, they will be more likely to keep doing their best. 

So don’t wait for weekly meetings, or performance appraisal sessions. Instead, take the opportunity to congratulate a good job the moment you see it.

4. Not giving autonomy

When you hire professionals, you do so because you trust that they will be able to do their job. So why not let them take responsibility for their own tasks? 

It is one thing to monitor progress, and quite another to control each and every one of the actions that must be done during the day. 

When employees do not have the freedom to make their own decisions and self-manage their day-to-day activities, motivation gradually declines and can even affect self-esteem. 

On the contrary, providing autonomy at work is a good way to show confidence in the talent of others, which is a powerful generator of intrinsic motivation. 

Giving your employees the opportunity to manage their own task flow, and to decide how and when they want to do it, is the difference between a motivated high-performing team and one that is running at half throttle. 

5. Do not offering feedback

One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a leader is not giving ongoing feedback. Daily feedback allows employees to know what they do well and what they need to improve to grow and evolve as professionals. 

Waiting to give feedback only at annual performance meetings increases the risk of getting employees stuck not knowing what the expectations are and what is expected of them. And ignorance causes demotivation. 

Giving feedback doesn’t have to be a formal act in a multi-hour meeting. Approaching them and talking to them about the most relevant points about their work is enough to clarify objectives and clear up doubts. 


Do you want to know what demotivates your team? You can find out using Team Insights . Why don’t you start now? It’s free! 

Table of Contents

Make decisions with
information, not intuition

Ensure you drive your decisions to the right direction. Align your budget and actions to the real needs of your team. Talk to people with true and honest feedback in your hands.