Not sure I understand the difference between motivating employees and not demotivating them. What makes employees motivated or demotivated?
If I work for a company that makes it clear that hard work is rewarded, then I will be a motivated employee. If it seems that I will be in the same role ten years from now or the path forward is unclear, then I will likely be demotivated. In either case, my productivity level is an effect of motivation.
The takeaway for me is that work, and good workers are inherently self motivating. There isn't much more you can do to motivate a good worker working on something they want to do.
However, there is much you can do to demotivate someone.
So it's like this : there is limited upside to motivating someone because they're working at or near 'total motivation'. However, they can fall from there to 'zero motivation'. Any given management decision to that person has a greater chance of demotivating them than motivating them.
I have been through something similar recently myself. I have been working for a startup which is nearing launch - on a part-time basis. I was motivated to get it over the line and quite happy to pitch in extra to do so. However, a key manager in the project decided to switch everything around in the interest of 'getting it done faster'. This demotivated me to the point where I actually stopped working on it.
Right, I get that creating incentives like bonuses won't get hard workers to work harder, but my point is that a worker's "total motivation" is something that is within the employer's control, if you count work environment, schedules, type of work, etc. to be within the employer's control. So while it may not be necessary to create direct incentive programs, to me, not demotivating somebody is exactly the same as motivating them, but it is being treated as if it is a special case. Treating workers well is a way of motivating them. Not treating them well is a way of demotivating them. If you don't do one you do the other, so it isn't sufficient to say "you don't have to motivate people, just don't demotivate them."
Brutal truth is the right way for me, a lone founder, freelancing and struggling to find time to push the startup forward.
I've tried a lot of things to stay productive (1), and I've learned I can't control my motivation, but I can pick some low-hanging fruit to get me back into it.
Project Persistence started today, with the idea being to work at least an extra hour on pushing non-freelance goals forward and not breaking the chain. Hard without a physical calendar to cross off the days, but I prefer to try without to build a new habit.
(1) - RescueTime, todo/reminders, lists, pomodoro, stickK, other forms of accountability etc. - haven't tried idonethis yet, not sold on the extra time investment's roi.
This is literally the most motivating thing that has happened to me in almost a year. Short, sweet, and describes my exact situation. I'm glad to hear it's not just me.
I get motivated when I am able to accomplish goals.
I get demotivated when the owners sell me on a pitch that they asked my advice on creating. When I tell the truth about our product's technical status, I am being difficult and not a team player. When I sugar coat things, I am yelled at when the product isn't what they hype it to be.
That is demotivation. Instead, just let smart people build your product.