Saturday, 30 January 2010

Who is to blame if employees develop low morale or become less loyal? What can you do?

Real cases have often been discussed on blogs, in the papers, on TV, so I’ve often tried to gain a wider understanding of this issue.

Every manager wants high morale in the company because, like in sports, the higher the morale, the more chances to win. So, is it true that managers create low morale in their team?  

In truth, from birth, each of us has been faced with, what is known as, top-down command and control training: requests from parents, older brothers and sisters, teachers and finally the Boss. It turns into a generally accepted pattern: some lead, the others obey. A leader’s command should not embarrass us. It does not mean disrespect.

The negative response appears when the leader doesn’t understand that he/she needs to listen to the employees. Lack of communication over the company’s problems makes the employees distrust management and become too critical of their boss; in many cases criticism being unrealistic. Consequently, the boss will disrespect the employees.
The feeling of humiliation leads employees to distrust and disrespect management and causes further reductions of morale and workforce motivation - a vicious circle with detrimental results. Low performance will result from here. People will become fearful: fearful of losing their jobs, fearful of not being able to provide for their families, fearful of losing their self worth.

As a branch director from 1994 to 2008, I met all kinds of people and used different approaches to manage them. Now, I’m 100% certain that the best methods to keep people energized are:

·                     Be honest and keep the employees informed. Make sure you give clear orders.
·                     Involve your people in difficult actions and reward, or praise the good results. Let them know how much you value their contribution. And, why not give them a day off.
·                     Every now and then, stop work on Friday afternoon and organize a “surprise” party or competitions (jokes, songs), whatever. Face-to-face meetings can be fun.

I’m O.K. with fun. A fun place to work is great. But this is not about having fun when one’s job is at risk. I’m trying to show that there are various ways – easy and cheap - to keep people energized and interested. There is nothing that affects productivity so much as lack of energy. Keep your employees’ energy level high, and you’ll motivate them to become creative and confident and willing not to give up. Such people CAN bring a business back to life.