Improve Team Morale With These 5 Easy Methods
Team morale is a massively important element of motivation and is also a key driver of productivity. If you can manage the morale of your team effectively, you can help them produce results in a way that will be as fulfilling for them as it is for you. Different team members with different personalities in different roles will respond to some morale-boosting tips better than others, so please don’t use this guide as a checklist. Be selective, and tailor your strategy to which you think your subordinate or team members would love.
1. Keep employees informed to tackle ‘them and us’ attitude
The retail industry (among many others) suffer from a ‘them and us’ culture, where employees increasingly see management as standing against them. This culture explains the high absenteeism, shocking employee turnover and extreme demoralisation that some retail giants (See: Walmart) suffer from. A communication defficiency between the organisational layers is the main cause of this problem. Elect to be up-front with employees, discussing problems and storms on the horizon as they’re discovered, and not after decisions have been made.
2. Explain the value and benefit to the business they’re creating
A workers morale is derived from the value they believe they’re creating. In this way, a director of a multinational corporation will have a serious morale surplus! However, a cashier at a fast food chain may not feel as well-endowed. Naturally, these grass-root positions in organisations still create plenty of value for the company though, and it pays to remind their occupants of this fact. A manager could, for example let a cashier see how many sales they’ve put through the till that week. It will likely be an impressive figure reaching into four digits for a full-time employee, and may let them impress themselves!
3. Deliver proper training
When your employees are being trained, are they simply thrown in front of a TV and told to sit through a dull and dated video? Or do they get to be coached one-on-one by a consultant, and put through a personalised and well-tailored training programme? A thorough and professional training scheme will fill employees with a sense of empowerment and self-respect. The thought that a company is investing time and expenses into developing their skills will remarkably improve their morale. For existing employees, consider a 2-day training excursion to refresh competencies and update their knowledge with recent market/company changes.
Training schemes are often out of the control of operational manager, and are ‘slotted into’ the induction programme by senior HR managers. However, if you’re in a small company, you may have sizeable influence over the structure of these training programmes. When it comes to budgets and spending, hotel & travel costs will quickly become astronomical if you choose a distant venue. My advice is to hire a local venue that will take employees out of their workplace, but will not require overnight accomodation. This is the key to receive value for money on training programmes, and will allow you to spend more on top quality talent to train your staff!
4. Consider worker’s outside lives by being flexible
Employees flex their lifestyles to fit their jobs with mixed success. Some people, especially young, single professionals manage to get by fine. However those with many responsibilities, including looking after family simply loose a grip on a sensible balance between fun & meaningful activities, and their career. Employ these ‘common sense’ policies into effect today, to create a positive change:
- Allow reasonable personal calls to be made during working hours.
- Use your discretion in allowing employees to leave earlier or arrive later than normal, with the understanding that the hours will be made up later.
- Put money torwards a medical treatment for a parent’s sick child.
5. Treats and team building exercises
I’d describe treats and team building days as ‘expensive and reliable’. Whether you see them as reliable or not, will depend on what you expect to get from them. If you expect a white-water-rafting day to cohesively give your organisation a firm sense of direction, then you probably need to take your head out of the glossy brochure. If however, you would like to encourage positive behaviour you’ve seen recently, and allow a disjointed, new team a little room to gel as a productive unit, then you could be making a wise investment.
6. Suggestion schemes (for large companies with many employees per manager/shop)
The notion that suggestion boxes are somewhat impersonal is a catastrophic understatement. Suggestion boxes are completely impersonal, and don’t directly help the relationship between management and employees. The cloak of anonymity can encourage people to be reckless, hurtful and careless with what they say.
Question: Why did these old-fashioned boxes make it on my list?
Answer: Because they actually work.
Indeed, despite what I’ve said; suggestion boxes do their job rather well. They’re not there to let employees vent anger, or for managers to gleefully ignore. They’re there to take a poll of employee sentiment, feelings, and pick up some of their ideas. I want you to think about the revolutionary (pun intended) element of the 360 feedback exercise. The key element is that you also get feedback from those beneath you, and a suggestion box is a simple way to do this that has been around a long time before such buzz words were ever printed. You need to be disciplined to encourage the use of a suggestion box. You must not let positive comments fill your ego, nor let the angry or hateful words trash your whole strategy. Gather plenty of responses about the exact topic in question, (be sure to ask for constructive ideas alongside any comments) and sit down in a professional fashion and see what you can incorporate into the working environment.
Expert™ Tip: Don’t look up for support
The green flag from a board of directors to go crazy with employee entertainment and training budgets is an recurring fantasy, but don’t hope for it. Don’t resent those ‘fat cats’ for not even supporting a practical, cheap and (in your opinion) worthwhile training project. Instead, become a manager that others will respect. In the face of an old fashioned and top-heavy corporate culture, make your own success in building morale.
You don’t need permission from your boss to tell Jessica how well hard you know she worked last saturday. You don’t need a dual-sign off on a anniversary card to give to an intern graduate you recruited precisely 1 year ago. Morale comes from the heart, and no board member, no chairman and certainly no accountant can stop you in leading your team to new highs of morale.
To Your Success in Achieving Higher Morale!
Simon Oates ~ Leadership Expert
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