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The course of people management seldom runs smooth, and emotions run high on both sides of the process. The most valuable technique you can use for preventing demotivation is a sympathetic and understanding human response.

Using Interviews

If you find it difficult to motivate a member of staff, try to establish whether they feel and are being utilized fully as part of the team. Arrange an interview with the person involved, leaving them in no doubt about its purpose. Eliminate any fears they may have by striking a positive note at once. Ask them whether they are happy with their working conditions and whether there are any aspects of their job they would like to change. Do what you can to improve the situation, and keep any promises you make at the interview.


Talking Face-to-face

During the interview, the interviewee will hardly ever reply just as expected. However emotional they are, stay calm and collected. Try to establish the reasons for their dissatisfaction as fully as possible. Listen carefully to what they have to say, and try to agree on a resolution. Always be sure to get a feedback from interviewees before they leave the room, in order to avoid further misunderstandings by either party.  As they depart, remind them that they can come directly to you to talk about any further problems.


Tackling Problems 

Personal difficulties and workplace problems are both potential causes of demotivation at work. Never ignore your staff’s emotional strains, even if performance is going well, because there is a high probability that the personal troubles eventually affect work.  Your first responsibility must be to the job. At the same time, you must also look after the individual.  Approach emotional upsets in the same way as workplace difficulties.

First, get the problems clearly defined, and then seek the root cause. See if there is a solution that the individual will accept. If so, act upon it.  It is important not to let the situation worsen. If you are unable to provide enough help, make sure that you find someone who can.


Do move away from the desk, which acts as a barrier.Don’t confuse the roles of manager and counselor.
Do show sympathy, however much you  feel problems  are self-inflicted.Don’t seek to blame individuals for errors.
Do make your criticisms constructive – you want the person to succeed.Don’t allow staff members to harbor unfounded fear.
Do keep interviews as short as possible by sticking to the point.Don’t hesitate to discuss difficult personal cases with both colleagues and superiors.



  1. Do not wait for annual appraisals to talk about staff performance.
  2. Talk about work-related problems to prevent them from becoming more intense.
  3. Allow people to talk about what demotivates them.
  4. Bad news always travels fast, so deliver it as quickly as possible.
  5. Emphasize to staff the benefits of all reforms, however unwelcome.

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Bernard Taiwo
I am Management strategist, Editor and Publisher.