Wow! The Secret to Boosting Morale: Communication!
Morale is mysterious and intangible like the wind. You feel the effects, but the contributing factors aren’t always obvious.
When morale is good, you feel it – everything flows better. Your team has more fun working together and there’s a surge in creativity, energy, and productivity. The bonus – a better bottom line!
When morale is poor, you also feel it – work becomes frustrating and hard! There’s a lag in energy which negatively effects work – both the quality and quantity.
Creating an atmosphere in which your people thrive and are able to accomplish the mission and goals of the organization – that’s your job as the leader. You hold the key to creating an environment that has your people jazzed about coming to work every day and contributing wholeheartedly. And when your people are happy, not only are goals achieved, but your effectiveness soars and so does your ability to make a difference in the lives of those you serve. If you are in a business setting, profitability increases. That’s motivating!
What’s sobering? Morale might be suffering without you knowing it!
In working with leaders, they are often surprised to discover the ways they are inadvertently discouraging their people, lowering morale, and negatively impacting the bottom line by how they communicate.
Consider a few of the costs of low morale:
- High turnover which is expensive and creates needless change that further hurts morale
- Low productivity
- Limited creativity and innovation
- Increased absenteeism
- Unnecessary conflict
- Complaining and negativity – and that’s contagious causing morale to suffer even more!
Here’s the deal: improving morale never hurts! Even if you think morale is good, it has the potential to be even better.
As the leader, you are in a position to positively impact the enthusiasm, confidence, and productivity of your people in ways that no one else can! It takes two things: Refining your communication skills and confronting your fears.
Want to communicate in ways that positively boost morale? Consider these communication tips that are sure to raise morale:
1. Eliminating Communication Voids
They say that “No news is good news” but that’s not always true! In fact, most of the time, no news is interpreted as negative. Talk about putting a damper on morale!
Being in the loop is what your people want! Keep them informed about important decisions and handle changes with care.
Don’t let more than 24 hours go by without responding to e-mails, even if it’s just to let others know that you are unable to respond or that you are still working on whatever you’ve been discussing.
Even though email and text are often the primary means of communicating these days, sometimes the best way to communicate is in person or by making a phone call. Often a quick phone call is all it takes to resolve a situation more expediently and without the risk of your words being misinterpreted so don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. It’s just too easy to read the wrong thing into an email or text and some things just don’t need to be put in writing!
If you say you are going to respond tomorrow, be sure you do! Timely communication goes a long way towards contributing to a more positive morale. After all, when you habitually communicate last minute – or not at all, that’s a real downer.
2. Adjusting How You Communicate for the “Who”
When clothes shopping, I frequently see the “one size fits all” tags more and more, and while the clothing tagged this way may fit many people – they certainly don’t fit ALL!
Communication is like that too – there is no “one way” to communicate that works for “all.” To successfully communicate, you must recognize that not everyone is like you and learn to adjust the way you communicate in light of the different personalities and thinking preferences on your team.
Taking it a step further, what impact would it have on the individuals on your team if when speaking with them you highlighted how their role contributes to making a positive difference to those you serve? Or if in your conversations you connected what you were sharing to their values and/or goals? Imagine how that might perk up morale!
3. Clearly Conveying Vision
Fuzzy is awesome when it comes to peaches and bears. Fuzzy is not so awesome when it comes to vision. There’s nothing less motivating than a fuzzy vision! Share the vision often! Discuss it, and make sure it’s clear how every aspect of what your organization is doing is tied to that vision.
The vision of an organization is frequently posted prominently on the wall, yet that’s not enough! Your people need to know how what they do matters and contributes to that vision. Your ability to communicate the vision in a relevant, clear, and compelling way sets your people up for success because it gives them clear direction.
4. Not Assuming They Already Know
Most people are eager to accomplish the goals you have in mind for them and they are willing to make changes if they know what they are. They are also willing to do more, lots more, if what they are doing is working.
The problem is that too often leaders neglect to set clear expectations followed up by the essential feedback. I hear things like “it’s in the job description” or “they should already know” as reasons for not communicating what they want.
Other times, you as the leader aren’t clear on what you are looking for until you realize what your people have done is not what you wanted.
I can’t stress enough how critical setting expectations and feedback are! And don’t forget that feedback is just as much about acknowledging what your people are doing well. It’s far more than pointing out the areas for growth.
5. Be More Specific
A couple of very unhelpful phrases: “great job,” “nice work,” or “thanks for all you do!” These phrases shed no light on what to repeat or do more of so the more specific you are, the better. In fact, when communicating this way, your people probably doubt you even know what they did!
6. Consistently Following Up
The lack of follow up, or inconsistent follow up, is another aspect of communication that leaders struggle with that negatively influences morale. It sends the message that your people aren’t important and that you don’t value them.
Without making it a priority and a system to help you stay on top of follow up, I guarantee the urgent needs of the day will keep follow up falling through the cracks. You may want to create a tickler file, calendar reminders, or use a follow up program like FollowUp.cc.
7. Be Positive!
Consistently voicing genuine appreciation, praise, and saying thank you, also positively impacts morale! And don’t be afraid to go old school and write a handwritten note – you’d be surprised how a small, sincere gesture boosts morale.
The #1 reason that people leave their jobs: bad bosses. People want to work for someone who sees their strengths, actively utilizes and helps them to further develop their strengths, while appreciating and valuing the work that they do. That means that you have to be engaged enough to know what the strengths of your people are and the positive ways they are benefiting your organization.
How is poor communication affecting morale in your world? What’s one area you would like to focus on to improve morale in your circle of influence?
Next week in part 2 – find out the surprising ways your fears are affecting your team’s morale!
© Can Stock Photo / vitalytitov