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TCFP151: COMBATING LOW MORALE

Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! What do you do when you realize your team isn't running as efficiently as it once did? Many leaders attempt to deal with their employee's lack of productivity and innovation without dealing with the root cause of those issues. However, the best leaders know how to manage processes AND lead people. They have to identify decreased engagement while also taking specific action to counteract low morale. This week, we're talking about the signs your team is suffering from low morale and five ways that you can help improve your team's morale, engagement, and productivity.

Signs Your Workplace has Low Morale

• Increase in absenteeism and turnover.

• Increase in errors in employee work.

• Increase in complaints by employees as well as customers.

• Decrease in commitment, enthusiasm, and responsiveness.

Q: What other signs have you seen in your workplace that could indicate employees are becoming disengaged? Have you ever been disengaged? How did it show up in your work? Up until today, what have you done to combat low morale?

5 Common Causes of Low Morale (and what you can do about them!)

Poor Management

Poor management can fall into two categories. The first lousy manager acts as if the employee is lucky even to have a job. They never respect the employee or what they do for the organization. When people feel underappreciated or even used under this leader, their morale will suffer. You need to quickly decide whether this kind of manager can be coached up or if they need to be coached out.

The second manager is simply ill-equipped. Many managers earn leadership roles because they thrived as an individual contributor. However, this does not mean they are ready to lead a team! Your part is to help these managers focus less on how they are doing and more on their team's progress. Show them how to motivate, lead, and inspire a team and give them the tools to do so effectively.

The Unknown

One of the fastest ways to reduce morale is to keep people in the dark. People fear the unknown much more than they fear change. Regardless of how you think they will receive the news, transparency will help prevent gossip and increase trust in the organization.

Disconnection

Feeling disconnected from your team members is a leading cause of low morale for both office-based and remote workforces. You need to be intentional in creating team-building activities and using icebreakers to help people get to know each other as individuals.

Unimportance

Employees will be more engaged and excited about their work if they understand how they fit into the bigger vision and mission of the company. In both your group meetings and individual appointments, make sure you reiterate how your team's work aligns with the goals of the company and its future success. Pay attention to their contribution and ensure that they are recognized whenever they go above and beyond!

Stagnation

People want to improve and develop their job skills. Your employees want to know that they are growing and can move vertically through the organization. Your role as a manager should be to know your team's goals help them achieve them. Helping them grow will increase their morale and give them a reason to give discretionary effort and stay engaged. Instead of just working for the company, they will also be working for themselves and their own goals!

Q: Which of these common signs of low morale stood out to you? How have you addressed that sign in the past? How do you think you can tell the difference between someone who has low morale and someone who is just a bad fit for their current position?

Application Activities:

  1. Get your employees involved in the engagement process. Remember that not everyone has the same personality and feels connected and inspired under the same circumstances. For example, you could have your team take turns choosing and leading a team-building activity at your weekly meeting. You could put one of your leaders in charge of setting up a lunch or dinner out and hand out awards for your team's work during the year. Get creative and take the limits off!

  2. Take a moment to evaluate how your organization handles change and transition. Do you hope that no one notices, or do you confront it head-on? Think about your own feelings toward the last significant change. Did you feel like you could be transparent about the decision? Why or why not? As you look at the past, think about what you want to do differently in the future. You can even talk to some of your employees to get feedback on how they processed past changes and how you can help them feel more secure and informed in the future. You may have to operate within the parameters set by your leader, but you can still find ways to be direct and clear about the information you can give.

  3. Come up with a tracking system to identify potential issues with morale before they become a common problem. Make an excel sheet with the following columns: monthly absences, monthly turnover, significant errors, customer complaints, employee complaints, unanswered emails/requests. Keep a tally of these columns every month and establish a baseline. Of course, some turnover will happen, customers will complain, and emails will get buried. However, by tracking these metrics, you can identify when a significant increase in these behaviors occurs and swiftly tackle the issue.

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