It is in our best interest to maintain a high level of employee morale as we often inhabit the same workplaces as our teams.
If the office morale is high, our days will go better as well. Here are 5 things to help you boost the morale of your team.
1.Genuinely Care About Your Employees
If you don’t genuinely care about your employees it will soon be made obvious in your interactions with them. Not every employee needs to be your best friend, but your team will respond better to you when they feel you genuinely care about them as people.
If you believe you are not a caring person, don’t despair. Many have developed a greater sense of empathy for others using tools such as compassion meditation.
2. Get To Know Your Employees
Now that you genuinely care about your workers, it’s time to move on to the next thing: learn a few things about each member of your team.
I have personally observed a huge difference in the morale of the teams when their leaders knew the most about them. During a staff meeting I discovered that my top supervisor, Dave knew the most about each of his individual team members compared to his peers. It was no coincidence that Dave’s team also had the highest morale. It took only a few small tweaks to get the other supervisors in the building on board.
What was Dave doing differently?
After a weekend off, one of Dave’s conversations with an employee would sound something like this:
Dave: Hey Andy, did you win on Saturday?
Employee: Sure did, we beat em’ by 3 runs. I hit a grand slam!
Contrast the above dialogue with one of Nancy’s, his fellow supervisor:
Nancy: Hi Nikki, How was your weekend?
Employee: It was nice.
Nancy: Well, that’s good.
Nancy could of saved herself a bit of awkwardness and had a more meaningful “welcome back after the weekend” convo if she would have known a little more about Nikki.
Communicating with your employees on a more personal level creates the interaction necessary to establish rapport. This helps to break down the barriers between leaders and their teams, which helps them feel more comfortable with each other. This leads to more open and honest communication.
Here are a couple of things to remember when starting conversations with your employees:
- Use open ended questions that provoke a variety of responses. For example, “How was your weekend?” is likely only to get you a one word answer. In contrast, “What did you do this weekend?” is more likely to start a conversation.
- Avoid using leading questions. Such as, “You don’t really like sports, do you?” This type of question will make your employee feel as though they have to answer it a particular way. You are less likely to learn more about them.
3. Recognize Contributions
Not all employees contribute equally or even in the same way. However, recognition is one of the most powerful morale boosters in the workplace. One more reason to follow the above advice about getting to know your employees is that not all employees necessarily like recognition in the same way.
For example, a shout out across the room to someone who closed a deal could be very motivating for one person and very embarrassing for another. Perhaps the latter would prefer a plaque, or a one-on-one meeting where you express your appreciation for her work.
Some team members are great with ideas, and others are better with implementation. Still others are better at leading a new project altogether. It is important to recognize each person’s role in the project and be sure to give credit to each person for their part.
Maintaining a general awareness of each employee’s’ specialty will ensure that you recognize the right employee for the right work.
4. Recognize an Employee’s Intent Before Reprimanding
While I was leading an internet marketing team, one employee took the initiative to start a company Instagram account. He created an account with a variation of our company name, posted pictures and acquired a significant number of followers in a short time. When he showed me what he had done, I immediately recalled that we already had a company Instagram account that was not being utilized.
My mistake was immediately reprimanding him for not asking me if we had an existing Instagram account prior to making it, rather than recognizing his initiative and desire to go above and beyond his job responsibilities. Needless to say his morale was lowered, and for a time was reluctant to do anything without asking.
As leaders we need to be aware of our gut reactions and be certain to consider as many factors as possible prior to reprimanding. We lower morale and lose the respect of our team when we react based on incomplete information.
5. Remove Ambiguity, Make Intentions Clear
There are often good reasons for rolling out unpopular company policies.
No one likes change that adversely affects them, even when the change is absolutely necessary for the health of the company. Every unpopular change is bound to lower the morale of the workplace to some extent, but leaders have a profound influence over the extent this happens. The key is to offer a rational explanation for the change and clearly communicate this in advance whenever possible.
Ambiguity in all of its forms has the tendency to turn into something negative. The more informed we keep our teams of the reasons behind performance appraisal delays, project cancellations, perceived broken promises the better chance we have of preserving the morale of the group.
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