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President's Weekly Message (07/16/21)

Hello API Job Corps Centers!

I was recently asked, “how do you motivate an unmotivated employee?” We all have been in that situation at one time or another. It may have been with a fellow team member, a student, or with someone we supervised or interacted with to get our job done. Below are a few tips from Sabrina Son (, adapted to Job Corps, that I hope will provide you with some guidance.

1. Without prying, ask if anything is wrong

There are many times I sensed that someone was losing their mojo and a simple conversation (1) helped me not jump to conclusions and (2) helped them unburden a little. Sometimes, we can help someone by just listening or facilitating a brainstorming session to help them develop different options. To help someone find their motivation, you need to find out what is demotivating them and the easiest and most accurate way to find out is to ask.

2. Recognize the person’s best efforts

Recognition goes a long way toward improving engagement. Everyone does something well. If we only address what can be improved without addressing what has gone well, that in itself is a demotivator. We also have to be very careful not to use the BUT word (You did a great job BUT…the report was on time and complete BUT). When we use the BUT word, everything that came before is silenced. This doesn’t mean we cannot provide feedback or constructive criticism. If we need to have a performance improvement conversation, it needs to just focus on what can be improved. Remember to separate recognition conversations from constructive criticism conversations.

3. Communicate clearly about what’s going on at API and at Job Corps Stay abreast of all the important information that impacts your future and their future. Job Corps is constantly changing and all of us can get overwhelmed with the constant movement. Help people keep focused on one day at a time while keeping an eye toward the future to ensure the quality of services never suffers and the center reputation and company standing is upheld.

4. Empower through goal-setting

Assist an unmotivated person in setting goals that help them feel empowered, not micro-managed. You can do this by creating a goal discussion, not a goal demand. By empowering them to take ownership of their own expectations, they are more likely to stay motivated to follow-through.

Engagement and motivation of any kind is an ongoing process. Schedule a monthly check-in to touch base. Take a five-minute walk around the building and engage with your co-workers/students. This can help them feel comfortable opening up about where they may be struggling.

Keeping unmotivated employees engaged is not easy, but it’s essential to cultivating the center culture we all desire. Keep vigilant about the center’s safety and make sure your fellow co-workers and our students know you care about what matters to them. Stay motivated yourself and you will be a wonderful role model for how to stay motivated. Thank you for everything you do!!

Dr. Wild

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