The guide to demotivating

Columns - Industry Voices

September 6, 2013
Marty Grunder
Marty Grunder

Marty Grunder

As leaders we often talk and think about all the things we need to do to motivate others to follow us, to help us with our cause, to get on the same page, to engage in the process. This month I wanted to talk about three things I see people not do that dramatically affect their ability to get people to follow them, help them and even respect them.  

1. Asking for help and then not saying thank you or recognizing the efforts put forth. A short while back a company I do business with sent me an e-mail and asked for some feedback. One of the managers from the company has sent me e-mails asking for feedback many times.

I always speak my mind. Unfortunately, the person asking me never speaks theirs. I went back and looked: On three occasions, she has asked me for feedback and each time I took the time to reply with some well-thought-out, honest ideas. She has not responded to me at all.

No, “Thanks Marty, we appreciate your being so blunt.” Or, “Those are great ideas; however, we cannot implement them at this time.” I didn’t hear a thing.

So you know what? I’m done responding to her requests for feedback. And she’s lost someone who could help her improve her organization.

If you want people to follow you, then you have to communicate. Be polite, be grateful but most of all, be responsive.

If you ask your team or your clients to help you and they help you and you don’t seem to appreciate it, it’s disrespectful. Good leaders are grateful and let their followers know that.

2. Not communicating well. There isn’t an organization, team, company, or group in the world that can say, “Yep, we have communication figured out; cross that off the to-do list.”

Communication is something you focus on and work on 24/7 and sadly, many of us landscapers don’t communicate well.

If you want to demotivate your people, forget to tell them they need to work this Saturday to get a job finished. Don’t tell them that your best team leader is leaving the company to pursue other opportunities.

Don’t tell them that Mrs. Jones was upset about your crew being at her house a day early.

No one likes surprises and poor communication frustrates people. And people frustrated with you will not follow you. Good leaders are good communicators.

3. Not being certain that your words match your actions. I learned a long time ago that leaders show what’s important to them by what they do, not by what they say. Sure, a good motivational speech is a cool thing, but if your words don’t match what you say, that’s trouble.

Many years ago I was speaking at a conference where a big-time, legendary motivational guru was speaking on the big stage in front of 10,000 people.

I was doing a breakout session at the event in a room in front of about 100 people. I’m small time; he’s big time. I was backstage and got to meet him.

He was someone I always looked up to. After watching his behavior for 10 minutes, I decided I didn’t care for him any longer. He was a great performer, but once he got off the stage, he started yelling and screaming at the help.

He used a few choice four-letter words and his lessons didn’t match his actions and ever since then, I quit buying his products and have told thousands about my experience.

One of the hardest things about running a company or being a leader is that we always have to be “on.” We can’t make mistakes in the words we choose or the actions we show. When we do, we will pay for those and people will stop following us, stop supporting us, and, most importantly, stop believing us.

And when people don’t believe you, they don’t trust you and when they don’t trust you, they won’t follow you.

Good leaders lead by example. The bottom line is this: People don’t leave companies because of the company.

They leave because of their leader. Take some time to look at how you’re leading and make a commitment to get better.


Marty Grunder is a speaker, consultant and author; he owns Grunder Landscaping Co. See; mail