At one time I had a team of staff & volunteers whose job was to clean and maintain medical aids for bathing, toilets and mobility. Quite frankly part of their job was to clean poop off of toilet seats & wheelchairs.
They felt disconnected, our quality & service was slipping and moral was low.
I spent hours with these people, talking to them, getting to know their stories and as much about them as I could. I always came to visit their work site with baking, asked about their kids and tried my very best to express genuine interest in them as people.
I constantly talked about why their work was vitally important to the lives and dignity of thousands of clients who were dying, in hospice, convalescing or infirmed.
In short I made sure they felt safe, valued and understood why their work was important. In every action I took with these people, I ensured they were connected to their clients and me.
People let themselves down ever day, but as a leader I couldn’t afford for them let our clients or me down!
Here are 3 things you must do to build morale and be successful:
- Give them a reason to believe.
Do your employees know they are part of something bigger than themselves?
Unsure? Get up from your desk and go talk to your front line employees. Use a casual, curious, conversational manner to ask your team what they are doing and to find out if they understand why they are doing it.
Don’t be shocked when you hear ‘I don’t’, ‘no idea’ or ‘I’m just doing my job man’. These are all indicators that they are not connected to your mission.
Don’t over react, but this is an opportunity start a conversation about how important this one person’s work is to everyone’s success.
- Show you care.
Recognize every single employee’s birthday. Send gifts for new babies and weddings or flowers for funerals. Remember when somebody’s kid has a soccer tourney or recital and ask how it went the next time you see them.
Be involved in employees’ lives to let them feel valued not only as employees, but also as family members and as human beings.
And to be brutally honest, $30 worth of flowers will buy you more goodwill than a 3% pay increase ever will.
- Recognize the good, but deal with the bad.
When someone is doing something awesome, so say so. But most importantly if someone is screwing up, pull up your big boss pants and deal with that poor performance.
Nothing but nothing is more demoralizing to the 90% of your team who are doing good work than seeing someone get away with poor performance.
This is the part of your job as a leader that sucks but will stop poor moral from spreading throughout your team like a cancer.