How To Challenge Low Morale In The Team
All individuals and team will go through a period of low morale at some point – this is an inevitable part of working life and impacts upon everyone in the organisation. Even the most cheerful, optimistic and enthusiastic staff members will fall foul of this but the situation becomes very serious when low morale threatens operational performance and the achievement of tasks and goals.
You will never be told this directly but when morale does dip staff will be waiting for management to deal with the situation. This does not necessarily mean the low morale is due to the actions of management but it is the responsibility of management to resolve the situation and to refocus attention on targets and required performance.
Morale is intimately linked to emotions and a frequent cause of low morale is staff feeling that they are not appreciated, nor do they feel that they belong.
How can you as a manager improve morale?
Bonding with staff
Employees need to feel there is a connection between themselves and management in that they share a common purpose and common goals. How often do staff just feel that they are not even seen by management other than just bodies carrying out specific functions or duties?
This can be resolved quickly and effectively by just taking the time to get to know your staff, talking with them not AT them and by being a resource or a listening point that they can use. Make sure that you do some good quality MBWA (Management By Walking About); be visible and engaging!
Employees want recognition and acknowledgment that their work has purpose and that it is appreciated. Never miss an opportunity to identify and communicate when someone has done good work. Employees contribute to the achievement of organisational goals hence it is very important to acknowledge this and to publically state this!
Low morale is frequently caused by staff having to do the same, or broadly similar, tasks all of the time. This is a primary cause for ill-health, low production and efficiency and high staff turnover, all of which impact dramatically on organisational performance.
New challenges work well as motivational tools. A quick way of starting this process is to try to delegate fresh tasks and duties to change the working patters on a regular basis.
Remove underperforming Staff
Problem or underperforming employees can drain morale faster than anything. You must always take immediate action to deal with such issues before they become larger ones. Use progressive discipline to deal with problem employees.
Check their progress with regular follow-up meetings. If after following the steps of progressive discipline the issues have not been resolved, terminate for the good of the employee, yourself, the company and colleagues.
Review Working and Operational Systems
Sometimes low morale can be a sign of a dysfunctional system. Systems that are unclear, poorly designed and which are ultimately ineffective and inefficient will always be a source of trouble, irritation and ultimately low morale.
Do the staff know exactly what is required of them? Is this written down or is it just a verbal conversation that both sides cannot remember in its full details? Is the work environment clean and suitable for the tasks to be completed?
Low morale is a management challenge that cannot be allowed to go unchallenged and ignored.
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