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  • Writer's pictureEmanuel Perdis

The First Rule of Motivating Your Team Members

In the whirlwind of modern workplaces, where deadlines loom large and stress levels can soar, the first rule of motivating your team members might just be the secret sauce for success. 

In this article, we'll dive into this crucial primary rule and explore the impact of words and actions and the must-use strategies for avoiding demotivating behaviours.


The Power of Words and Actions


Detrimental Impact of demotivating behavior and speech on team morale and productivity


Imagine a workplace where negativity, criticism, and demotivation run rampant. It's a morale graveyard, a place where productivity takes a nosedive. Words and actions have incredible power—they can either lift your team to new heights or bring them crashing down.


The simple discipline of committing to avoid demotivating your team can pay enormous dividends to you and your organization’s bottom line.

Some Common Examples of Demotivating Behaviours and Their Consequences


Here are some all-too-familiar demotivating behaviours and their consequences:


Blame Games: Finger-pointing and blaming team members for failures create a toxic atmosphere of fear and insecurity.


Micromanagement: Hovering over team members' shoulders and second-guessing their every move erodes trust and stifles creativity.


Lack of Recognition: Failing to acknowledge hard work and achievements leaves team members feeling unappreciated and undervalued.


Negative Feedback Only: Offering criticism without constructive feedback provides no path for improvement, leading to frustration and demotivation. 

This tiny list just tickles the very tip of the mountain of demotivating behaviours and attitudes.

The First Rule: Avoiding Demotivating Behaviours


Refraining from negative criticism or excessive micromanagement


It starts with recognizing these demotivating behaviors in ourselves. Instead of negative criticism, provide constructive feedback that guides improvement. Replace micromanagement with increasing trust and autonomy, allowing team members to excel on their terms.


Providing constructive feedback and support instead of blame or belittlement


Feedback should be a two-way street. Shift the focus from blame to support. Encourage open dialogue, so team members feel comfortable discussing challenges and seeking solutions.


Encouraging autonomy and ownership of tasks to foster a sense of responsibility


Empower your team by giving them ownership of their work. Autonomy, more often than not, breeds responsibility, and responsible team members are motivated to excel.


Remaining mindful of tone, body language, and nonverbal cues that may convey negativity

Communication isn't just about words; it's about how you say them. Stay mindful of your tone, body language, and nonverbal cues. Positive, open, and respectful communication sets the tone for a motivational environment.

Always be demonstrating respect and appreciation for team members' efforts and achievements


Never underestimate the power of a simple "thank you." Show respect and appreciation for your team members' hard work. Acknowledging their efforts fosters a sense of value and motivates them to continue giving their best. Failing to do so exacts a harsh toll on their mental health, the biggest casualty being motivation.


Avoid unclear expectations and shifting goals, ensure they remain realistic and attainable


Clarity is key. Set clear expectations and goals that are both realistic and attainable. When team members know what's expected of them, motivation naturally follows. Constancy is also essential. Many a manager is guilty of wishy-washy goals or of frequently moving the goal-posts. This is a big No-No. Not unless you want to deflate their motivation quicker than a truck running over a football.

Don’t deprive the team of opportunities for growth and development 


Failing to invest in your team's growth is a sure-fire way to ruin any rise in their motivation. Always being on the lookout to provide opportunities for learning and skill-building counteracts demotivation. When team members are unable to see a path for personal development before them, they are much less motivated to perform.

Avoid Exclusive and Dismissive Attitudes


Diversity breeds innovation. This is well established science. Failing to encourage a collaborative, inclusive environment where diverse perspectives are valued could lead to a brain-drain in your organisation. 

People won’t even feel like sticking around, even for a regular pay-cheque. Exclusionary, Elitist and Dismissive behaviours not only demotivates team members but also leads to poor and toxic decision-making.


Don’t discourage open communication and listening to concerns and ideas


Communication is a two-way street. Despotic behaviours create a work environment where nobody tends to feel heard and valued.


Focussing on losses and failing to celebrating successes and milestones disheartens the team


Celebrate successes as a team. Tiny and mundane ones. Whether it's a project milestone or a personal achievement, acknowledging these moments keeps a sad or bad heart at bay.

Repeated focussing on failures and losses discourages and demotivates your team in a chronic way.


Failing to provide necessary support and resources demotivates and can lead to irreparable burnout


Ensure your team members have the necessary support and resources to perform. At every feasible opportunity, provide training, mentorship, and a supportive environment so that you keep the devastating effects of burnout as far away from your team and organisation as possible.


Neglecting to promptly attend to conflicts and resolve interpersonal issues respectfully is like unleashing a pestilence amongst your people


Conflict may very well be inevitable, but how you handle it makes all the difference. Addressing conflicts promptly and respectfully goes a long way in ensuring they don't fester and demotivate the team.

Benefits of Following the First Rule in Motivating Team Members


A. Increased job satisfaction and engagement

B. Improved productivity and performance

C. Enhanced teamwork and collaboration

D. Higher retention rates and reduced turnover

E. Cultivation of a positive organizational culture


In a world where the demands of work can be relentless, the first rule of motivating your team members stands as a guiding principle: Diligently avoid behaviour or speech that demotivates or demoralizes. 

The impact is transformative, always resulting in higher performance, job satisfaction, and overall efficiencies. 

Just getting out of your team’s way and giving them the gift of not having to contend with a ‘tool’ for a manager will be the best, low-cost, energy-efficient gift that will keep on giving.


You may want to also check out the following:

The Office

TV Series - Ricky Gervais


Australian TV Series - Rob Sitch


Emanuel Perdis is a trauma-informed Anger Management therapist who administers therapeutic counselling for individuals as well as couples. His key specialties for counselling are Anger, Relationships, Trauma and Anxiety. All therapy is delivered online, via Zoom, and enquiries can be made through or on the phone via +61 412 288 081

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