By M. Dana Baldwin, Senior Consultant, CSSP, Inc.
Note: This article is part of a series taken from Dana Baldwin’s article Improve Morale-Increase Motivation originally published in Compass Points in January 2003. Although this article was written in 2003, these tips are timeless.
In Part One, we defined morale and motivation and said that one way to improve morale is to build trust between employees and the management. In this post we will discuss one way to build trust.
Get and stay in touch with the people of your company. Don’t isolate yourself on the wrong side of “the wall” (the wall between the shop and the office). Go out to the people who are actually making the product or performing the services you sell. Talk with them. Learn their names, their kids’ names, their wife’s name, their dog’s name, where they like to go fishing or snowmobiling. Find out what their team did in the bowling league, how their high school football or basketball team is doing. Talk with them as an interested individual, not as a boss. But, mostly, listen to them. If the total number of employees is large, pick out a few key people in each department to approach — and not just supervisors. Ask their opinions about how things are going from their point of view. Find out what gripes they have and why they have them. Don’t promise to do anything about them, but learn what they are. If it is logical to correct them, then go ahead and do so, without fanfare and without looking for credit. If one or more of them has a good idea, give them full credit, without basking in the reflected light yourself. Important: this is not “feel-good management.” This is simply smart, practical use of your time and your ears to find out what the ranks think of your company management.
As you do this, watch for the non-verbal signs that each person gives off. Do they reinforce the message being given or do they contradict it? Understand that you are under the microscope. Every word you say will be micro-analyzed for content, intent and their ability to interpret it in any possible way. To be safe, say as little as possible and listen as much as possible. A good question to start with is: “Is there anything I should know about?”. It must be asked genuinely and sincerely. Responses should be used judiciously. Where possible to settle gripes, do so in the most appropriate manner. When the response results in an improvement, give credit generously.
In Part Three, we will discuss another way to increase morale – effective delegation.
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M. Dana Baldwin is a Senior Consultant with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached by email at: email@example.com
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