Wednesday, February 28, 2024

How can motivation and discipline affect productivity in the workplace?

Everyone has good days and bad days when it comes to motivation – that’s just part of life. Some mornings you spring out of bed, excited to get started, and others you’d rather just pull the duvet back over your head and hit the snooze button. The day drags and you barely achieve anything on your to-do list.

It’s normal to have fluctuating levels of motivation, but as a manager or business owner, ideally you want your employees to feel motivated a large percentage of the time. But motivation is a mental muscle that’s prone to fatigue – and that’s where self-discipline comes in. Discipline is what makes you do something even when you don’t feel motivated to do so.

Whilst you have to accept that working for your company may not be their dream role, there should be elements of your employees’ everyday routine that brings them joy and makes them want to do their best. And naturally, you’ll want people who are both motivated and self-disciplined enough to get the job done.

In this post, we look at why being motivated and disciplined is important in the workplace, as well as sharing some key tips for you to share with your employees, to help you shake up their approach to work.

Why is it important to be disciplined with work?

 
It can be easy to forget, but how each employee behaves makes a difference to the success of the company. Businesses hire people to fill a certain role, and you rely on each of these hires to complete their tasks in order for the business to move forward. 
 
Lack of self-discipline can mean that some employees start to struggle to meet expectations, potentially putting their jobs at risk. They may find themselves floating through the days at work, rather than being able to block out time to focus and get a task done as required. 
 
At the opposite end of the spectrum, lack of discipline and time management skills can mean that team members have a poor understanding of their own capacity, and end up taking on an unrealistic amount of work. This can lead to stress and burnout, as well as missed deadlines – none of which is beneficial for the individual or the company.
 
It’s important to recognise that there are two different interpretations of the term ‘discipline’. Self-discipline is a positive skill that increases productivity and efficiency, whereas discipline in the form of punishment is a negative reinforcement tool that ultimately doesn’t work in the long run. Aside from being unethical, this is also a route to a toxic working environment. 
Be sure to positively motivate your employees to drive them towards being self-disciplined, rather than punishing or reprimanding them for a lack of motivation. 
 

What are the negative effects of low motivation?


Poor job satisfaction


Most of us want to experience some level of happiness at work, even if we’re only interested in earning money to fund our hobbies, rather than it being a ‘passion job’. This motivation and desire to improve is what allows us to feel satisfied when we achieve our goals, as well as helping us get stuck into any challenges that come our way.

Low motivation can lead to poor job satisfaction – when employees don’t feel excited by their day job, they’re less likely to seek out new challenges and opportunities which can make work a more fulfilling experience, as well as providing innovation to take your business to the next level. 

As a result, they may feel ‘stuck’ and start to dislike going to work. In turn, this will reduce their productivity levels, and increase the risk of them leaving – resulting in you having to deal with the challenge of rehiring. No matter how self-disciplined someone may be, a workplace that is draining and unmotivating at the best of times is going to eventually break through and destroy their determination to succeed.

Conflict between colleagues


When employees are not motivated to do their best, they’re also unlikely to be motivated to go above and beyond to help out other team members. They may stop paying attention to small details that make a piece of work excellent, and therefore reduce the standard of the team’s overall output. 

This can cause conflict between colleagues, especially if they’re required to do a large amount of collaborative work. Whilst managers and colleagues should understand that not everyone can work at 100% effort all of the time, there should be a collective agreement of how things ought to be done. 

This can be especially true when you have team members working from home, as there may be an increased use of time tracking or task tracking technology to help keep everyone on target. If other colleagues can see that an individual is not generating the expected amount of output, they may begin to feel resentful.

Missing deadlines


Ultimately, low motivation at work reduces productivity. Team members who are not motivated will struggle to keep up the pace and are less likely to ensure that your work gets done on time, and to a good standard. 

This can lead to missed deadlines, or rushing to finish last minute, as they haven’t worked steadily towards their goals. Even if they do get the work done, they may end up feeling a great deal of stress, which can lead to sickness.

If you are promoting a supportive and positive work environment and culture, it may be necessary to check in with your employees and discuss their self-discipline strategies. Perhaps they need some guidance to strengthen this skill to ensure they can keep the pace when their motivation is lacking.

How can you improve employee motivation and discipline at work?


Help staff prioritise their to-do list


One of the primary reasons for feeling demotivated or overwhelmed at work is having an endless to-do list without clear priorities. Managers can help their team members get back in control by talking with them to prioritise their to-do lists, and by making sure work is fairly distributed. 

By making it clear which tasks are the most important, team members should feel more confident getting started. They’ll also feel more in control, organised, and motivated to tackle their tasks one by one.

Make everything more manageable


Another reason for feeling demotivated at work is facing overwhelming tasks that seem too daunting to begin. Breaking large tasks into smaller, more manageable parts is an excellent way to make them feel more achievable and less intimidating – you may even be able to assign these smaller sections to different team members. 

Setting realistic, achievable goals makes it easier to track progress and help your team stay motivated throughout the day. Even the most self-motivated and self-disciplined person will struggle to achieve if the goals are unrealistic and feel unattainable.

Create a welcoming work environment


A cluttered, disorganised workspace can be a significant contributor to feeling unfocused and unmotivated. Creating a welcoming and organised workspace is essential to productivity. Help your team feel settled and motivated by providing an adequate working setup in the office, and providing materials or budget for employees that work from home.

Encourage taking breaks and a change in routine


Taking regular breaks, even for a few minutes each hour, can help workers stay focused and energised throughout the day. Managers should encourage their teams to try to switch up their routine by taking a walk outside, chatting with a colleague, or doing some light stretching exercises. You may even find that blocking out team breaks times in the calendar encourages everyone to step away from their screen.

Celebrate team achievements


Finally, remember to celebrate any team accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem. Acknowledging successes can be an incredible morale booster, helping everyone stay motivated and focused on their goals. 

Rather than shaming or reprimanding your employees when they fall short of your expectations, help them to learn the skills required for effective self-discipline, such as self-awareness, time management and organisational skills.

The overview


A happy team equals a successful team. When your employees are happy, motivated and self-disciplined, they’re more likely to work harder and give their best efforts to their work. Employers can play a vital role in keeping everyone on track and boosting team morale, so why not share these tips in your workplace?

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Claire Humphrey

Claire Humphrey

Previously a management consultant, Claire is familiar with the types of challenges that can affect teams. She now writes posts to share her knowledge with the wider business community.

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