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Getting your employees engaged and motivated is half the battle won. Here’s what NOT to do if you want to keep them that way.

In a recent training session, we were asked to list out the worst and best managers we’ve worked under, with the objective being to reinforce behaviours that define bad bosses – and to remind ourselves to steer clear of them at all costs when dealing with our own teams.

With the typical workday demanding more from us each day, it is easy to submit ourselves to bad-boss behaviour once in a while, but the session was a grim reminder that we cannot afford to let these behaviours become habits.

Some habits stood out more than the others, and we put those in a list to highlight what not to do if you are serious about retaining your most engaged employees.

1. Misuse the matrix: Hardly any organisation today isn’t working in a matrix environment, be it across geographies, business unit, or function lines – all of which leads to multiple lines of reporting.

But a mismanaged matrix can wreak havoc on motivated employees, if they hear conflicting goals from their managers. As a boss, you can resolve this by working with the rest of the team to clarify the one team priority that should define everyone’s actions.

Not only does it maintain their self-drive in good times, but when they are pressed for time or resources, they know exactly where to direct their efforts.

2. Ignore discretionary efforts: What makes a motivated employee so valuable is exactly what we as bosses have a tendency to take for granted – their discretionary effort, or their drive to go the additional mile to achieve not just their own KPIs, but the company goals.

If you’ve got someone on your team putting in extra hours to help meet a team member’s target, that’s exactly the kind of thing that needs instant appreciation.

A spot-bonus programme, or the monthly extra-mile award that we have here at Lighthouse, is a great tool to remind motivated employees that you appreciate their additional efforts and sense of ownership.

ALSO READ: Don’t be the reason your employees quit

3. Disregard their life beyond work: Employees who love their work are like independent centres of excellence – they work hard, learn quickly, and adapt when needed. But they do have a life beyond work.

There are two schools of thought on this one, but in my view it is important you get to know them as individuals rather than just knowing their strengths and weaknesses as staff members.

Don’t make every conversation about work. If you care about them, make the effort to show it. If they’re on sick leave, for instance, find out how they are really doing, instead of pressing for how soon they’ll be back in the office.

Knowing your employees as people rather than “assets” not only strengthens team spirit, but it also serves you as as the boss, in identifying the slightest signs of disengagement, and differentiating those from just another bad day at work.

I’d be happy to know your thoughts on these! Let me know by sharing your comments below.

Image: Shutterstock

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Aditi Sharma Kalra

Human Resources Magazine Singapore

When not spending her time eating or looking at dog videos, Aditi loves to read, write, and tweet about HR. She is managing all content for Human Resources in its print and online forms, across Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

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