In a past blog post I have written about how to motivate people. We discussed the different hot buttons, or key motivators, that we as leaders need to get to know to obtain the best results from those we lead.

Today we are going to talk about workplace morale. We all know that working in a place where there is high morale makes us feel great, and that results are superior in a positive atmosphere compared to a place where low morale exists.

Lifting Morale
The biggest effect on morale is the mood and behavior of the leader. It is every leader’s role to set a positive environment and keep his or her emotions in check. As you develop your people and improve results, morale will climb because everyone loves to be part of a winning team. Here is a video my wife Amanda Gore made about the mood of the leader.

Let’s look at some ways leaders can dramatically affect morale.

How You Enter the Office
Believe it or not, employees know your mood–or your perceived mood–within minutes of your entering the workplace.

Be mindful of this; make sure you enter with a smile, chat to those you pass, and word will get around that the boss is in a good mood. If you enter deep in thought and brush past people without greetings, word will spread like wildfire that the boss is in a bad mood.

The Leader’s Words
The words leaders use have a profound effect on individual and team morale. Here are some tips:

  • Use “we,” not “I”
  • Say “thank you” often
  • Use phrases like, “You did an excellent job,” “I’d like to hear what you think about…” and “I think that deserves a ‘ta da!'”

One of these moments of praise can result in days of increased productivity because the employees will feel valued and special.

Here are some thoughts you don’t want your employees to have:

  • “I don’t feel appreciated”
  • “I don’t get the support I need”
  • “I don’t like the atmosphere here”
  • “I don’t feel special”
  • “I don’t think anybody would care if I left”

If employees are feeling this way it is only a matter of time before they leave.

Empathy
Having empathy is being able to actually feel the pain or joy of another person. Teachers of empathy will tell you that you cannot feel the pain or joy of others unless you are able to feel the same thing in yourself. Can you feel your own joy, acknowledge your own pain?

If you are not aware of your own feelings then you need to begin learning to experience them. William Ury, in his book, Getting Past No, makes the point that it is important to see both the factual point and the feelings of another person. He uses this illustration:

An employee says, “I just found out Dale makes $2,000 more than I do for the same job.”

Trying to explain why Dale makes more money, even if there are valid reasons, will only make the employee angrier. Instead, you must acknowledge the fact and the feelings first. You should say something to the ends of: “You think we are taking advantage of you and you’re angry. I can understand that. I’d probably feel the same way.”

An angry person doesn’t expect that response. By acknowledging his feelings you’ve already calmed him down. His next statement might be: “Well, I don’t earn as much as Dale.” That shows he’s ready to hear your explanation. Showing empathy isn’t about letting go of your needs. It simply means you are able to see things from the other person’s perspective and acknowledge his feelings.

So in summary, like most things happening in your business, the leader can dramatically influence morale. What effect is your influence having?

Best Wishes,

Ken Wright

(+61) 414 157 657