How to Help Your Team Avoid Performance Fatigue

Team Management

We have probably all seen what I call performance fatigue -- where your team work their butt off during the month, hit the target and then see all of their hard work wiped off the board when the calendar rolls over to the first of the following month. As the months roll on, little slithers of their motivation dissipate and soon you’ll be wondering what’s changed. It’s the loss of the twinkle in their eye, the loss of hunger to go for gold, the loss of morale within the team. They won’t be quite as bubbly or vivacious. They begin to think what’s the point?  You’ll never see this with relatively new employees, it is most often seen in employees who have been in their role for more than three years.

Performance Fatigue Causes

This is performance fatigue and it has two primary causes.

  1. The leadership team does not recognize a job well done.

    Recognition of a job well done is so simple, costs you nothing, and yet has an immense payoff to the individual receiving. They get a massive confidence boost, morale goes up, productivity is increased and team cohesiveness is enhanced. All these benefits in exchange for recognition at month’s end when reviewing the team’s performance.

    While it is quite simple, most managers tend to overlook this.

  2. They perceive achieving targets to be the equivalent of a mountain hike.

    Targets get raised, that is how business growth is achieved. However, there comes a point where the target exceeds the current level of the employee’s skill level. You can read more about that here.

What can be done to prevent performance fatigue?

It’s a combination of the above two points. Recognise wins and deliberately set your team up for success. Give them smaller, achievable goals and challenges (in addition to the monthly growth targets) for which you can give them immediate recognition when they’re achieved. This builds them up to achieving their monthly goal, keeps them engaged and increases their morale.

Let’s take a look at an example:

A sales team might have an individual monthly goal of $150,000 of sales. A smaller, easily achievable goal might be for week 1 of the month sell 5 of product X. Check in and as they hit the smaller goal, give them a high five and congratulations. You might even earn stars for challenges you complete and whoever has the most stars at the end of the quarter gets a reward/trophy/certificate. Get creative.

A quick analogy:

This is the same principle that is used in video games to keep people playing. You have a main story arc (the business growth target) and while you’re playing there are usually collectible items and unlockable items (our small challenges) to keep you getting little wins between each large milestone (monthly targets). It is designed to keep the players morale up and engaged. This is one reason that makes gaming so addictive.

Someone once said, “There are times when we just have to stop raising the bar, put the bar on the ground, step over it and congratulate ourselves.”

Darcey Pollard

Retail Capability and Product Trainer at