Mixed Messages Hurt Motivation

We frequently hear blunt, unvarnished truth when conducting training classes. A recent class was no exception when we discussed employee engagement and recognition. Many in the class were sharing positive examples of things their companies do to encourage engagement. One did not.

The message was something like this: “We have a terrible work environment, and management tries to whitewash it with meaningless recognition programs and short-lived efforts that don’t help.” How many of us would like to hear this from our people? How many managers will get the opportunity?

This comment, and the heads that nodded in agreement, illustrate an important point. Employee engagement does not happen by accident. It requires work. Managers have to create and foster an environment in which people are recognized for their contributions and feel that the work they do is important. Leaders must provide the tools and support to help employees be successful in their jobs.

Quick-hit programs may be nice for the short-term, but they cannot be used in place of the much more challenging job of building culture. A company-logo water bottle or “Pizza Friday” will not replace genuine, specific feedback and appreciation for a job well-done.

Hopefully your organization does not have people who feel this way, but it might. Why not find out? Start asking questions or take a survey to give your people the chance to tell you how they feel. Given the right venue, they will share, and you will have something to work with.

Trinkets and swag do not drive engagement. Meaningful work that makes a difference does. Create a culture that uses tools to reinforce and enhance strong culture, not one that encourages a conversation about mixed messages.


Learning Dynamics can help your organization with coaching skills and ideas to develop high performance teams. Visit our programs page for more information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *