There is a high cost to low morale. Maintaining workplace morale can be a big challenge whether you work for the government, Shopify or Google.
You are a totally tuned-in leader. Your emotional intelligence switch is always on, telling you when employee morale dips and spikes. When morale’s down, even for a moment, you see collaboration and productivity sinking with it. What is up? The eye rolls, gossip, stress, re-work and turn-over. (sigh)
What is morale anyway?
It’s that positive attitude and perception towards the job, work environment, team, managers and the organization. It’s that state of mind where your feelings tap you on the shoulder and say, “I feel confident in my work,” “I feel recognized for working my tail off,” “I feel supported by my colleagues/boss.” You smile and you know you really belong here and you FEEL the benefits of giving your best.
Morale is a Relationship
Morale is about our relationship to our work, colleagues, mission, managers, organization. Like all relationships, we are sensitive to things changing and we change too. We can get bored, tired, frustrated and even fall out of love with changes in our work environment at a given moment, sending our morale meter plunging.
But what causes the dip?
The 11 common reasons we fall out of love with our work:
- Pointless meetings
- The mountain of emails
- A sales slump
- The condescending performance convo
- A tone of voice that rubs you like sandpaper
- Lack of recognition
- Clash of values
- Trust deficit
- Re-org/merger/acquisition that has you feeling like a distant cousin
- Unreasonable deadlines
- Not being heard
Raise the Morale Meter for a Change
Like any relationship, we can’t change others, we can only change ourselves. The good news? In finding out what you CAN change, you can positively influence others!
Read on to see how we helped Dave, an executive, and his team Boost Morale with Conscious Communication practices.
During a team coaching session with Dave's team, one leader said, “I’m so frustrated by the lack of collaboration and the energy drain when the “nay sayers” speak at our meetings. It brings the whole team down. No one wants to work with them and we aren’t moving on or files. It’s such a waste of time. (sigh)
We helped them focus their attention to determine:
- Intention and Commitment to change morale
- What was causing the morale dip
- Unexamined leadership blindspots
- Communication barriers
- Simple ways to up the Morale Meter
Many of us want to see a change and can easily point out who is eye-rolling, gossiping, underperforming. If you are truly driven to help create a change in the morale meter, shift your lens to see your blindspots.
Leadership Principle: Boost Workplace Morale with these 5 Tips
1 a) Lens focused on self. Notice where your “lens” might be pointing. Do you find yourself clear from judgments? Here’s a way to check in with yourself:
- What do you think your leadership style will be with a so-called “underperformer,” or a “gossiper?”
- What will your approach be to engage them?
- How do you think about them?
- What do you think about them?
- How is your energy as you answer these questions?
With our client, Dave, we had a “shift conversation” to first clear judgments that are getting in the way of boosting morale.
1 b) Lens focused on others. Focus your lens on them. Once you have cleared (and this takes time to strip our judgments), determine what is really causing their dip. When are people showing signs of low morale? Is it related to anything mentioned in the top 11 list?
We used the PRISE model with Dave to see what was going for his team. It was amazing—his lens shifted and so did his energy.
2. Watch your language. Remember that morale is about relationships. When our lens is blurred by the symptoms of low morale, we tend to communicate through a reactive lens that filters team members as gossipers and do-gooders, under versus high performers.
When Dave realized he was thinking of AND talking to people according to these labels, he realized he was dividing the team. Not a great way to connect or (re-)build trust. It was a powerful shift.
3. Listen to understand, not to reply. When morale is low and tension is high, our inner world is in reaction mode teetering between variations of “why me” and “this sucks and so do those people who are creating this mess.” (Thanks again, reptile brain :) There is no time for conscious thought that allows us to stay present, connect, think and then respond.
With Dave, we totally understood that he could not flip off the switch to shrink the email mountain that his peeps were concerned about. We knew he understood their need for recognition and that a thank-you party might not turn their frowns upside down. We showed him different ways to listen and receive their messages. He listened for clues in people’s language about what they really needed and focused his energy on solutions that were in his control AND would meet their needs. Not an easy task when we are in reactive leadership mode.
4. Laugh. If you have lost your mojo, you definitely know others have. Douse that fiery tension with some feel-good water. Find simple ways to trigger you out of reactive mode so you can bring lightness into all your conversations and more fun back to the office.
How will you use laughter or lightness to change your lens and to you shift your language, especially when you're reacting to others’ reactions?
5. Life. It’s NOW o’clock. Time to integrate all the tips above EVERY time the morale meter dips in your daily life. Most of us “run away” from having these creative conversations (conversations that create a new reality), because it seems “too hard,” “there is no use,” "I’ve tried everything." Here's an easy way to get outsmart that habitual brain of yours. When you think you’ve tried everything, ask yourself what HAVEN’T you tried?
The Leadership Group is offering 2-day workshops and leadership coaching based on Conscious Communication, a fresh approach to engaging and inspiring others through government and business challenges that Dave and other leaders are constantly dealing with. Changes, turn-over, re-orgs are always on the private and public sector’s horizon, and preparing for these uncertainties should be top leadership priority.
For more information give us a call. We are always happy to provide a free initial consultation.