How Managers Can Improve Staff Morale - Part I

Most employees who quit their jobs are leaving because of their managers and low staff morale, not necessarily their companies.  Sure, we can think of exceptions, like an employee who moves away, or someone who works at a burger joint who decides to follow a vegan diet, or someone who feels a company product, practice or philosophy violates their own values.  But in cases where the employee just can’t stand to go in to work anymore, most of the time it’s personal – often directly related to the interaction they have, or don’t have, with their manager.  If the manager/employee interactions are negative or inadequate, low staff morale will often ensue.

Many studies have revealed that there is a direct relationship between employee morale and productivity and performance, so making a conscious effort to improve morale is simply good business.  The Gallup Organization has estimated that there are 22 million actively disengaged employees costing the American economy up to $350 billion annually in lost productivity including absence, illness, and other problems that occur as a result of employee dissatisfaction.  Executives and managers who are able to keep employee morale high will undoubtedly improve productivity and performance for their company.

If you want to improve staff morale among your employees adopt the five strategies outlined below as part of your regular management practice.

1.  Don’t be a a stranger

Make yourself visible.  When leaders regularly interact with and work alongside their employees it communicates a higher level of commitment to team objectives and a willingness to share the responsibility of getting the job done.  Staying visible also provides the manager with an opportunity to model positive engagement for their team.

2.  Express optimism

The best managers are those who are able to see the glass as half full and can effectively communicate that perspective. Every business has its problems and challenges and if we choose to focus on them they will quickly and negatively impact employee morale.  Instead, choose to focus on what’s working, the positive aspects of the company and the team, and acknowledge and celebrate them frequently.

3.  Provide clear direction and well defined objectives

In my work with teams I often find that a common source of frustration and confusion resulting in low morale is the absence of clear direction and well defined objectives.  Make it a habit to revisit and review your team’s objectives on a regular basis and invite questions concerning any confusion or ambiguity team members may be experiencing.

4.  Provide regular feedback and keep team members informed

It’s been said that what an employee is not up on they are automatically down on.  In other words, if employees are not kept informed with relevant facts about what is happening within the team and organization they are more likely to resist and oppose new ideas and objectives. Employees who are consistently kept in the information loop and provided with relevant feedback concerning their specific performance are more likely to find satisfaction in their work and maintain greater morale.

5.  Keep negative thoughts about leadership to yourself

In a healthy organization there are appropriate channels of communication that managers can use to express their concerns and opinions to those above them in leadership.  Expressing negative opinions concerning the company’s leadership will not only undermine staff morale, but it will lessen the amount of respect team members will have for their managers.

Although you as a manager do not want to express your negative thoughts and feelings to your team keep in mind that you will want to welcome and sincerely listen to the concerns expressed by those you lead. It can be tough to be the middle-man between leadership and employees, so treat both with respect and discretion, keeping in mind whatever is in everyone’s best interest.

Next time we will take a look at a few more tips for maintaining high staff morale.

Live, Work and Relate Well!

Dr. Todd 

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