Make Sure You Aren't Killing Your Employees' Morale
Good employee morale and good productivity are thought to be directly related. And poor morale is a productivity killer. Poor morale is an energy zapper and a contributor to lack of cooperation, raw nerves, and easily ruffled feathers, to say nothing about its impact on the ability to retain skilled professionals who relish working hard and delivering results.
Check out this resignation letter for an example of how low morale can drive good talent away. I wonder how many people will use it as a template for their own future resignation letters.
Unfortunately, some managers behave as though they don’t care about their employees’ morale. Others, I’m convinced, are simply inexperienced or clueless about what a strong—and potentially negative—impact their behavior can have on their employees’ attitude and motivation.
I once consulted to an IT organization where employees were suffering from plunging morale. Trust in management was severely lacking, due in part to assorted communication failures, including inconsistent communication across departments, ambiguous communication, and—too often—a total lack of communication. Not surprisingly, lack of trust is one of the leading causes of poor morale.
Other ways leaders can trigger poor morale are not accepting responsibility for mistakes, setting impossible goals, acting dishonestly, micromanaging, and criticizing employees in public. Need more reasons? How about asking for input from the team and then ignoring it, taking too long to address team issues, and persistently refusing to try new things or do things differently? (I once had a manager who was a persistent refuser.)
Conversely, if you want to retain your best talent, listen to them and take their ideas seriously. Many of their ideas may be ones you can’t implement, but by genuinely listening, you will hear some ideas that you and they can act on—ideas that will improve the team and its work.
Keep in mind that boosting morale doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Actually, it doesn’t have to cost anything at all. For example, you could set up a book exchange with books employees bring in. Or arrange an occasional “lunch and learn” where members of the team or others in the company spend half an hour talking about something they’ve learned that they’d like to share with others.
And while you’re at it, offer a pat on the back for a job well done and remember to say thank you. It’s often the smallest gestures that can have the biggest impact in building morale.