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Challenged Employee = Happy Employee

The mother of a 9 year old girl in the third grade gets a phone call from the teacher.

“Emma isn’t paying any attention in class. I would like to have a meeting with you and the principal and talk about putting her in a lower reading level.”

Emma’s mom knew that her bright and curious child was an avid reader and something else must be going on. Before the meeting, the school retested Emma and her scores were off the chart. At the age of 9 she was reading at a college level.

Superhero kidAt the meeting with the principal the third grade teacher still insisted that Emma wasn’t meeting the standards of the class. The conclusion: Emma was bored. Rather than being put in a lower reading level she should be moved into a much higher one.

It wasn’t until Emma was challenged that she began to improve her attention and performance in class.

For some reason, after we graduate from school our expectations shift when it comes to feeling engaged with our work. What happens as adults when we aren’t challenged in our day to day lives? We easily become bored and want to try out new things. This can lead to job hopping and dissatisfied employees. When the next situation isn’t any different we become frustrated all over again.

A manager needs to be the advocate for their employees. It is time to set the bar high and see how your team meets the challenge.

Keep in mind same ole’ one-size-fits-all thinking doesn’t work when it comes to interpersonal relationships. You have to evaluate each of your employees differently based on their individual skills and abilities. Pay attention to what parts of their job they excel in and what they are excited to work on then give them more of those tasks and projects. Sure this takes time . . . but the pay off is through the roof!

You may begin to see patterns with some of your veteran employees. If they haven’t received any new duties in a while they could be getting bored with the parts of their jobs that they do every day. Mix things up a bit to keep them engaged and interested in working with you.

Here are three easy steps to challenging your employees.

  1. Eliminate de-motivators. If there is someone in your office who consistently brings the team down by being negative or demeaning, correct the situation. If their attitude can’t change, you may need to take more drastic measures. (yup . . . move ’em out!)
  2. Offer training. When an employee’s interest, and therefor performance, is waning in their usual day to day tasks provide training for them to add more skills and eventually more duties to their work. Remember Emma?  She needed more!
  3. Reverse psychology. One way to re-motivate a bored employee is to reassign them, temporarily, to a department or a job that they won’t like. This may give them new perspective on their old job and bring a fresh attitude to the mix. 
  4. Positive reinforcement. Rather than trying to punish the employee who is losing interest in their project try to encourage them to take on different tasks. Like Emma, the 9 year old, forcing an employee to do work that is not rewarding will have precisely the opposite effect you would like to achieve.

Motivation in the workplace is not a “one-time-only” fix. Successful managers know how to read their employees emotional cues and can respond appropriately.

Do you want to know more about challenging your employees to keep them happy on the job? I can provide motivational training and coaching for you and your staff today! 


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