Efficiency In The Workplace – Motivation Killers (aka Toxic People) by David G. Guerra, MBA

Lately, I have been looking at how to improve efficiency in the workplace. I have looked at it from different angles as to what makes it work and what holds it back. One thing that holds efficiency down is “motivation killers“. Every business has one. Every company, every agency, every organization, for profit or nonprofit, has at least one. Sadly, some have two or more. I guess that just depends on the company size. Who are these motivation killers?

Well, they are those Negative Nellies, the Debbie Downers, the Two Sad Toms, and the Killjoy Club. You know who they are. They are there and they are easy to spot. It does not matter what name you call them, you know who they are. They are, as I wrote, so easy to spot. It is crazy but yet why are they allowed to fester?

Why are these toxic individuals allowed to grow? Why are they allowed to thrive in the organization? Why do they get the advantage over those that are highly motivated, those that want to be there, those that want to do the next thing, those that want to take it up a notch? Why are those toxic individuals not stopped in their tracks? Why are they not held accountable? These are valid questions to valid situations that exist in the workplace.
The Negative Nellies and the Debbie Downers get the run of the place. They get the run of the place and why does management continue to allow such behavior? Could it be because no one wants to stir the pot? Make no waves? Meanwhile the toxic people continue to roam the corporate countryside, the positive employees have to be restrained for fear of stirring the toxic sludge? Why?

Why is that allowed?

As a leader you cannot flat out fire those Debbie Downers, even though many of us would like to, we just cannot do it. You know your organization’s hiring and firing policy and you have to follow it to the letter. However, there are things you can do and the number one thing you as a leader need to do with those “motivation killers” is to work with them. I know it is easier said than done but you have to work with them. You lay it out and say ‘hey, look the company’s going in this direction and we need you there with us. Take that energy that you are spewing and turn it around. Guide us, help us, and help us take the entire organization, take the newbies, take the old-timers, take the veterans and take the organization in a whole new different direction.

Of course, sometimes it is not that easy. So, what do you do? You document, you document, you document. You write it all down. You get to work with this individual, you talk to that individual and yet they continue to “fail to follow direction”. You as the leader, as the manager, as the department head, as the one at top of the ladder have to work with them. You have to motivate them. However, when they fail to follow those directions, well then you can begin to do something about those “motivation killers“.

Trust me, when they realize their pocketbooks are going to be affected things change. Hitting people where it hurts is a great motivator. I hate to be the one that has to take it to that extreme but sometimes you have to do what you have to do because you cannot be trying to go full speed ahead if you are just dragging your anchor. Ask the United States Navy if they can go full steam ahead full speed ahead and drag their anchors on the ocean floor? The answer is NO. They cannot go full speed until they raise that anchor. Until they raise the anchor (the “motivation killer“). Get rid of that negativity and when others see you doing this they see you trying to work with those “motivation killers”, guess what? They are going to be on-board as well. Their attitudes and motivation are going to change. This going to start changing for the positive and who knows maybe they will even start to hold those Negative Nellies, the Debbie Downers, Too Sad Toms and they’ll start holding them accountable and they’ll start holding each other accountable. It may be a long path or it could be a short walk. Sometimes all they need is just a little motivation like and you hear “Oh, I didn’t know I was doing something wrong.” Either way they are with you and they’re with the change in attitude. They are changing, they want to do better and when they can do it they will do it.

When they don’t, well you and I both know it might just be time for those “motivation killers” to find some other place to take their toxicity and that’s the bottom line because, we don’t have time for that nonsense. After all, this is the 21st century and we are moving forward.


As always, if you questions please feel free to reach out and contact me.

David G. Guerra, MBA
Author of “The Walking Leader” and “Great To Follow”
twitter: @DaveGuerra
instagram: dave_guerra