CLARK R. – SAXBERG R., 4 Reasons Good Employees Lose Their Motivation, Harvard Business Review, March-April 2019
Motivation — the willingness to get the job done by starting rather than procrastinating, persisting in the face of distractions, and investing enough mental effort to succeed — accounts for 40% of the success of team projects. Yet managers are often at a loss as to how to effectively motivate uninspired employees. Our review of research on motivation indicates that the key is for managers to first accurately identify the reason for an employee’s lack of motivation and then apply a targeted strategy.
Carefully assessing the nature of the motivational failure — before taking action — is crucial. Applying the wrong strategy (say, urging an employee to work harder, when the reason is that they’re convinced they can’t do it) can actually backfire, causing motivation to falter further.
These reasons fall into four categories — a quartet we call the motivation traps. Namely, they are 1) values mismatch, 2) lack of self-efficacy, 3) disruptive emotions, and 4) attribution errors. Each of these four traps has distinct causes and comes with specific strategies to release an employee from its clutches.