Is there a gray cloud hanging over your office? Have you started to sense a certain lack of energy and motivation among your team members? Do hangdog looks and furrowed brows greet your arrival every morning? If so, you just might be facing a morale shortage.
Like every other type of energy, team morale seems to ebb and flow over time, often with no discernible pattern. Sometimes, external events or extenuating circumstances can cause your team’s motivation to dip—situations like a slowdown in the market or a botched project are often surefire morale drains. But in other cases, your team might fall prey to a mysterious decline in energy and motivation that no one can explain, but everybody senses.
If you’ve begun to suspect that your team’s get-up-and-go got up and went, don’t worry. Even though some of the events that impact morale might be out of your control, you can still do a lot to set the tone among your team members. With a little targeted effort, you should be able to help your morale-depleted staff bounce back in no time at all.
Train yourself to be a morale barometer. You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know you have one. Make an effort to tune in and stay focused on your staff’s mood and energy level. That way, you can begin to take action at the very first sign of a problem. Plus, they’ll be flattered that you care enough to pay close attention, which can often be a morale booster in and of itself.
Clearly define roles, responsibilities, and expectations. Research has shown that “role confusion” is a leading cause of low morale in many workplaces. If a staff member isn’t sure exactly what they must answer for, they may take on too much responsibility—a situation that’s sure to lead to feelings of being overwhelmed. A crystal-clear org chart can do wonders for morale. If you don’t have one, make one today!
Make sure each employee is being challenged to their limit. The old adage ‘boredom breeds discontent’ can sure come in handy when you’re facing a morale problem. If you’re not asking enough of your staff members—if they’re not being stretched to the limits of their abilities on a daily basis—you might as well just go ahead and beg them to become bored and dissatisfied with their jobs. Find out what each employee’s strengths are, and then assign tasks and projects that play to those strengths.
Provide constructive and frequent feedback. Bosses who are stingy with their feedback—whether positive or negative—are more likely to face team morale problems. Cultivate a habit of providing a constant stream of constructive criticism to your employees, pointing out their triumphs and their shortcomings in a reasonable, supportive manner.
Reward excellent performance. They say money isn’t everything, and workplace motivation experts agree—to a point. Although pay isn’t always directly proportionate to motivation, an employee who feels that he or she is being underpaid is much more likely to have low morale. Make sure your salary and compensation system is competitive, and that it adequately recognizes and rewards your employees’ contributions.
How have you pulled your team out of a morale slump? What’s your favorite motivation-boosting tip? Tell us all about it in the comments.