Countless entrepreneurs attribute their success to their ability to conquer adversity. At some point in their careers, they were met with a seemingly unbeatable challenge with the potential to derail their entire operation. But they conquered it by persevering when there appeared to be no reason to persevere. What these entrepreneurs often neglect to mention, however, is that the greatest challenges tend to come from places you don’t expect or areas where you aren’t an expert. One example is the all-too-common scenario of a usually motivated, hard-working team becoming careless or apathetic.
In my experience as a veteran entrepreneur, I have found that the most effective way to overcome this challenge is to identify the cause. If you’re not sure what it is, here are three things that may be making your employees lose steam:
1. Poor Example Set By Superiors
I have spoken to many aspiring entrepreneurs who changed their minds about their careers once they discovered all the responsibilities that come with being a leader. It’s not just about being the very best at what you do. When you are in charge of a team, you must set an example with your work ethic and dedication. A goal of virtually every boss is for employees to understand the value of hard work, and they will as long as you continuously remind them that hard work is how you get to the top. Employees might not be as motivated to work hard if they see their superiors taking shortcuts.
In my line of work, which is finance, I’ve met a lot of people who worked very hard in the early stages of their careers but currently resort to very different tactics to get by. Rather than trying to impress clients by putting in the effort required to fulfill their needs, they talk their way out of arduous tasks. Doing this gives employees the impression that it’s not hard work but your “swagger” and “communication skills” that will bring you success. Think about your employees sitting just a few feet away the next time you’re ready to act like a confounded politician while on the phone with a client.
2. Working Harder For The Same Result
Perpetual progress is often a major element of company culture. The boss wants his or her employees to evolve and therefore constantly pushes them to improve performance. A strong performance must be followed by an even stronger one. While I understand the concern of employees becoming complacent or overconfident, it’s easy to go overboard with this strategy. Employees might cease striving for a strong performance if they know that no matter how hard they work, the results will be met with the same reaction: work harder.
I can’t ask bosses to stop pushing employees because, in certain industries, the only way to stay competitive is to repeatedly exceed your clients’ expectations. What they can do is explain to their employees why they keep pushing them and let them know their progress is the driving force behind their company’s success.
3. Hostile Industries
When you’ve worked in an industry for a long time, you tend to forget just how naturally problematic it can be. In some industries, things go wrong for seemingly no reason and there’s little (if anything) you can do to prevent it. Clients want an explanation, but you can’t simply say “I’m sorry. That’s just the way it is sometimes.” Such misfortunes can make employees question the purpose of working as hard as they can to please their clients. As if the inevitability of disappointed clients wasn’t unnerving enough, employees run the risk of being accused of negligence as well.
Your status as a business leader is proof that even the most crushing outcomes can’t stand in the way of someone’s success. I believe it’s important for superiors to tell employees that they faced similar challenges when they were in their positions but did not allow these challenges to kill their confidence or momentum. When I sense that my employees are growing tired of uncontrollable obstacles, I tell them that overcoming them will likely be one of the hardest things they do in their careers. If they can maintain motivation amid the looming threat of external circumstances, they can do anything.
The Real Challenges Of The Business World
My business financing company is often hailed for its customer service, largely because, when speaking to a new client, we show a genuine interest in their struggles. You can’t solve a company’s problems if you don’t know how they came to be. I apply the same concept to my team members. Rather than solely asking about numbers or goals, I ask my employees about what they feel is truly limiting their performance.
Despite the wide range of answers, my response is usually somewhat the same. I tell them that avoiding the urge to become apathetic is what separates failure from success. Tedious projects or steadily-increasing workloads aren’t usually what breaks people. It’s certain moments in their day-to-day experiences that make their sacrifices seem pointless. Yes, it’s incredibly difficult to not let those moments get to you. But at least it won’t get any worse.