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July 22, 2013
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A leader’s job, as I’ve said many times, is to drive accountability and motivate engagement — the kind of accountability and engagement that deliver High Commitment and High Performance. I spend a lot of time describing how to do this, what behavior to model, and what skills to use.

road block, roadblockNow after considering a list of ten motivational drivers, I’ve decided to create my own list of at least as many motivational roadblocks that need to be eliminated in many organizations.

  1. Lack of communication
  2. Low sense of participation
  3. Under- or overloading
  4. Insecurity about the future
  5. Broken promises
  6. No responsibility or too strong control
  7. Weak connections between achievements and rewards
  8. Scandals, questionable morals and ethics
  9. Slowness and bureaucracy
  10. No new challenges
  11. Unclear tasks, rules and goals
  12. False expectations
  13. Unrealistic goals
  14. Low trust of the management


So what do you do with this list?

Certainly you recognize each of these situations as detrimental to motivation. Naturally your leaders never intend to lower the level of communication, break promises, or stop presenting new and enticing challenges. But all of these motivation road blocks can and do make their way into your organization. It’s a leader’s job to vigilantly guard against their appearance.

Their first line of defense is feedback. In this case, receiving feedback. In my four previous blog posts, I covered four ways your leaders can better motivate their employees. Of course, none will do any good if at the same time your leaders are also building motivation road blocks.

The best way by far for your leaders to find out if they are building roadblocks is with effective feedback. Here are three ways they can make sure their feedback uncovers roadblocks to motivation among their direct reports.

Be explicit. If your leaders are serious about finding motivation roadblocks before they do their damage, have them talk with each of their employees. Ask specifically about each roadblock they uncover. Not all at once, but one or two in each session. They should start with the blocks they suspect and move onto those they don’t. And if they don’t accept the initial response, they may have to dig deeper for details.

Be aware. Leaders must employee’s reaction for clues to how seriously a roadblock may have discouraged the team. As intimate leaders, they should know how comfortable each employee is with bearing bad news. Then they need to encourage reluctant employees to be candid. And most important, leaders much watch employee reactions for responses that may stifle open and honest disclosure.

Be silent. Make sure your leaders resist the temptation to contradict an employee or to defend their own case, if they disagree. Tell them not to respond to any feedback until they have listened carefully to and taken in what the employee has revealed and have considered and clarified the feedback.

Your leaders may be blocking the motivation of their employees without realizing it. The only way to find out is to summon the courage to encourage the candor that will enable them to spot motivation road blocks and get them out of the way of High Commitment and High Performance.

Consider developing the feedback skills of your leaders alongside other leaders at our Motivating Employees Workshop set for Thursday, August 25, in Dallas. To get an idea of what they will learn in the workshop, please feel free to register yourself and your leaders for our free Motivating Employees Free Webinar.

Motivating Employees Free Webinar Registration

motivating employees program icon

Tuesday, June 28, at 11 am EDT

This no-obligation presentation will give you a taste of our comprehensive training program Motivating Employees. It’s just one of the powerful Training Programs we offer to leaders.

In this webinar you’ll learn:

   • The research behind the 5 Motivation Drivers
   • Why Leadership Intimacy is the “secret sauce” of motivating employees
   • Why motivated employees are more productive

Yes! Please sign me up for the Motivating Employees Free Webinar on Tuesday, June 28, at 11 am EDT.


Helanie Scott
Helanie Scott
Helanie (pronounced yeh-LAH-nee) Scott, CEO and founder of Align4Profit in Dallas, Texas, has driven stunning leadership and cultural transformations for an impressive list of organizations. She has mastered the ability to connect with her audiences in the boardroom, classroom, on stage, or in one-on-one coaching sessions. Helanie’s Align4Profit clients rave at the way her engaging programs freshen outdated mindsets and deliver results-oriented, aligned action.