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Motivation at the workplace – and the lack of it

Have you ever felt bored at your workplace? Horrible feeling, isn’t it? Especially if you have some tasks to work on, but you just don’t have the energy to do it. The easiest fix to this problem is to just go home earlier that day (if the company policy allows it) and do something you really love. These long afternoons may help dealing with demotivation at work at that moment, but not always works on the long run.

A new job?

A good way to deal with demotivation at work is going to several interviews and eventually changing your workplace. Change is good, a new company, new colleagues, and a new project is a good way to boost your motivation. Right now the possibilities for a Java developer are almost endless, you just have to answer your phone when an unknown number calls you, the chances are that on the other side of the line a recruiter is eager to hunt you down. I did that in the past and it worked every time. However, after a while I tend to miss my ex-colleagues, I get bored of the project that seemed super exciting a year before and just get back to being demotivated again, so I start to answer unknown callers.

But sometimes this is not the best option. Take me for example. Although I am not excited at all about the project I currently work on, the company I work for offers a very good work-life balance and the location is just perfect: I am able to find free parking places in the morning and don’t have to stay too much in traffic.

Periodic evaluations

Most companies I worked for had these and to some degree they helped us to stay stay motivated. The problem is that most companies hold these evaluations once a year and you simply forget about them. I personally never cared much about the score I received, mainly because my evaluations were done in a hurry or the person evaluating me had no idea what I was doing during the year. But when it is done right it is a great tool to help tackle employee demotivation. In my opinion organizing these sessions more often, for instance every 3 months would have a greater impact on employees. These sessions are also useful to get/give feedback.

Getting feedback

Either positive or negative. This is especially important when you do not get in direct touch with the customer. You usually get a list of bugs that you have to fix, but you don’t know if the customer is basically happy with the product (and your work) and would like those bugs fixed or thinks that it is just a piece or $@&# and just uses it while a better alternative is found.

Variety of tasks

Although I hate leaving my comfort zone, sometimes it helps to take tasks usually another member of the team takes, because nobody else has knowledge on that area. Our company uses a modified/hybrid scrum, so we are able to switch up the areas we would like to work on. The only problem is that we assign tasks at the planning meeting and if you don’t feel adventurous at that time (and I usually don’t feel), you will grab the easiest ones that are the least challenging. This is not that hard to fix, we could chose our next tasks in order of priority and our mood every day. But if you want something new, you could always ask any of your colleagues to switch tasks with you. I do this sometimes, no idea how happy my colleagues are, when I’m asking for their task that seems to be more interesting (at least to me), but so far they didn’t mind making the switch.

The Team

You seldom got to chose your team mates, so there is some luck involved in how you will get along with them. But one thing is sure, you don’t want to pull them back, you don’t want to be that person who is never doing anything useful and never meets the deadlines.

My first workplace was at a tiny local company and in some mornings I felt like going from home to home to my second family. Working at a small company offered a lot of flexibility and a pleasant atmosphere. It might help to ignore the rest of the company and just keep the goals of your team in front of your eyes.

All in all, I’m pretty sure that at some point everybody gets demotivated at the workplace, especially if working in an enterprise environment, where you are just one little gear wheel in the system doing very similar tasks every day. However, before pulling the trigger on your existing company, you should try to boost your motivation.