Thursday, March 26, 2009

Raising Low Morale in a Bad Environment

One of the things that has been a focus of my work over the last several months is how to combat low morale.  We have gone through two rounds of layoffs and management is obviously concerned with the overall morale of employees.  Low morale serves as the double whammy since you have less people to do the work and low morale employees are less efficient.  So you may end up with the ability to do drastically less work.

However, my team has consistently had average morale.  They are neither thrilled or particularly sad.  They are treating their job as just that, a job.  This is in direct contrast to some of the other teams in the company who consistently voice their displeasure.  So my team, in comparison, has seemingly high morale.  How did I accomplish that?

My approach has been two pronged.  Transparency and consistency.  I apply these in two ways.

  • I am very open and honest about where the business is and what the management team is doing to turn the ship around.  I over communicate with my team and make sure they have direct line of site to where the business is even if they do not "need" the knowledge

  • I am very clear about what my expectations are for the people who work for me.  Not only am I clear about it, I set the bar high

I really think it is as simple as that. So long as you have intelligent people (if you do not this is a different problem) they know what is going on in the economy. They know that there are problems that are probably out of the control of the company and can respect that you had to do layoffs SO LONG AS YOU ARE UPFRONT AND HONEST ABOUT THE PROBLEMS. It is when people feel they are being lied to or deceived where they start getting antsy. The problem is compounded if you are not clear about what your expectations are and what it means to be successful because people start to worry about the value they add and thus if they are they next one to get the boot.

These simple things have made a world of difference in my team.  I believe they feel better than the other groups because they know where the business is and know they how they fit into the big picture.  Seems simple but it is so effective.

No comments:

Post a Comment