By Bob Nelson

Organizations struggle to help make employees more engaged when what they really need to first do is eliminate elements that demotivate their employees. Here’s a list of common organizational demotivators that you should strive to get rid of in your company:

  • Organizational politics: An environment in which competition for power, influence, resources, and promotions is based on subjective and hidden criteria.

  • Unclear expectations: Unclear, confusing, and contradictory goals, objectives, and standards make it impossible for employees to ever feel secure and confident in their work and accomplishments.

  • Unnecessary rules: Rules are necessary, but too many of them are demotivating.

  • Poorly designed work: Poorly engineered work gets in the way of satisfying internal and external customers and frustrates employees.

  • Unproductive meetings: Employees often leave meetings looking exhausted, battered, and bored — and for good reason.

  • Lack of follow-up: Most employees could write a book about the latest and greatest programs that died on the vine.

  • Constant change: Change is necessary, but in some organizations, it seems as if change is arbitrary and capricious.

  • Internal competition: The healthiest organizations compete against their competition, not against themselves.

  • Dishonesty: Employees hate being lied to.

  • Hypocrisy: How can you trust leaders who say one thing and do another?

  • Withholding information: This is lying by omission. Refer to dishonesty just a couple of items up to see why this is demotivating.

  • Unfairness: Some organizations are full of policies and practices that are perceived as inequitable.

  • Discouraging responses: Negative responses to employees ideas and suggestions, such as “It won’t work,” “You can’t do that here,” and “That’s not feasible” are obvious demotivators.

  • Criticism: Some work environments make employees feel that they are guilty until proven innocent.

  • Capacity underutilization: Many people feel that the capabilities they were hired for aren’t being used.

  • Tolerating poor performance: One poor performer can cause everyone to look (and feel) bad.

  • Being taken for granted: Many employees quietly do a good job and are systematically ignored.

  • Management invisibility: It is amazing how many employees wouldn’t even recognize the division vice president, much less the CEO.

  • Over-control: Most employees are willing to be empowered, but few managers are willing to give them the authority to be empowered.

  • Takeaways: Reversing a benefit or policy that employees have valued is a perceived loss for employees.

  • Being forced to do poor quality work: Some work rules don’t allow quality-conscious employees to take pride in the work they do.