The Killing of Employee Morale
“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” — Henry Ford
By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM
The Importance of Employee Morale
We all know that happy employees are productive employees. Content employees are less likely to waste time their own time as well as that of their co-workers. They are more engaged in their work and feel they have a vested interest in achieving company goals.
Are We Killing Employee Morale?
Morale can prove to be fragile. One poorly handled situation or unpopular decision by management can send morale spiraling out of control. Here are a few factors that can kill employee morale.
Lack of Communication
When we don’t have all the information, we fill in the blanks with our imagination. And, our imagination can come up with some pretty terrifying scenarios. Lack of communication often leads to assumption and fear. Communicate with your employees. Share the current position of the organization and the vision for the future. Discuss strategic plans and the rationale behind the plans. And, most importantly, communicate the vital role that each one plays in the success of the organization.
Lack of direction
Employees want to be part of a successful team. But success is hard to achieve when you are not sure what direction you are supposed to be going or what success looks like. As leaders, it is our responsibility to make sure employees have the direction and tools necessary to achieve success. Make sure employees have a clear understanding of the objectives that the organization is working towards. Paint an encouraging picture of what success looks like. It is your responsibility to serve as a facilitator. Help establish goals, set parameters, provide them with the information, resources, and the direction they need, then, get out of their way and let them find the best way to do their jobs.
Lack of a voice
Gone are the days of employees who are content to work, day in and day out, like mindless robots. Employees want to be heard. They want a say in how their organizations are run and the freedom to design their work, their way. Employees know what’s happening on the front lines. They know what works and have great ideas. As leaders, we must engage them in conversations where we ask questions and really listen to their answers. We must also involve them in developing solutions to organizational problems.
Lack of trust and respect
Relationships that are built on trust and respect are the mechanisms we use to influence others. If you lack the trust and respect of your employees, they will follow you by force, not by choice. Earn trust and respect by showing that you are committed to your vision and that your words and actions are congruent. Your character will show in the values you live by, make sure you choose them carefully. Always keep your word, be fair, and consistent. Show your employees that you genuinely care about each one as an individual. Lead by example. And, prove yourself competent but not arrogant.
Lack of acknowledgement
Employees want to know that they are valued and their efforts matter. By simply acknowledging that we appreciate an employee’s contributions, we create loyalty and encourage continued hard-work. Tell your employees thank you. Say “good job, the team couldn’t have done it without you.” Make an employee’s day by simply giving them the credit they deserve.
When morale is good, employees are more motivated, engaged, creative, and efficient. As leaders, we must develop healthy operating environments where we avoid morale killing behaviors. The skills and character traits that allow us to avoid these behaviors also strengthen our abilities as leaders.