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Especially in an industry like commercial cleaning where turnover is rampant, managers for frontline cleaning crews or distributor operations are looking for any tactics that improve employee retention. If a worker is legitimately motivated, they're more likely to take pride in their work and not jump ship. Providing that motivation, however, is a common challenge for managers.

Whether it's instilling fear or incentivizing productivity through rewards, many managers fail to have motivated employees because they are trying to manipulate behaviors of people they can't control. And yet despite a continued failure to improve staff morale, many managers will still keep going back to the same strategies. 

To get an idea of why this is the case, Susan Fowler of SmartBrief outlined two common reasons for why managers keep going back to the same unsuccessful tactics.

Reason 1: Desperation

In this case, it can be a desperation to avoid conflict. When employees are underperforming or failing to follow instructions, many managers are afraid of any kind of discipline that could warrant a rift between themselves and the manager, or with other co-workers. While there are certainly instances where a private discussion is warranted over critiquing someone in front of the whole team, the manager needs to develop some level of courage when the record needs to be set straight. If not, a manager can be left with a team that is tension-free, but also without motivation and a concept that mistakes or poor work won't be called out. 

Reason 2: Lack of Known Alternatives 

One of the most dangerous mindsets in any company is "this is how we've always done it." This can lead to managers not approaching projects from new angles, or taking the time to analyze how processes can be improved. For example, one company may use incentive programs are their primary source of motivation for sales teams. While this could work for some employees, assuming everyone is motivated that way can leave some employees uninspired. Instead, managers should avoid template approaches. Perhaps a salesperson wasn't struggling because of a lack of incentives, but otherwise because they were having trouble explaining a product's features or how it can be useful to the end user. These kinds of issues can be avoided by motivating employees on a case-by-case offices. 

Ultimately, sometimes the best form of motivating employees is by ironically not making it look like you're trying to motivate them so much. By instead working on one's leadership style and how they can get the most out of every employee, many employees can in-turn motivate themselves by wanting to do their best work for the team. 

For related management content, check out this article highlighting four pillars to improving employee retention