What is Morale?
Morale is that special feeling you share with others of trust, usefulness, purpose, team loyalty and support, pride in your achievements and those of the group, and faith in the organization’s leadership and in the organization’s ultimate success.
High morale inspires people to be self-sacrificing and courageous, to go way beyond what is normally expected, to take extraordinary responsibility for their own work, and be totally dedicated to the work of the team.
Curiously, studies show that some apparently negative job factors, such as a safe working environment, are not necessarily connected with morale. For example, prison guards, firemen, and policeman, all work in dangerous jobs, but often have high morale. Even interpersonal difficulties between employees and line managers may not affect morale. Other factors related to individual job satisfaction, such as personal gratification around the tasks, or moving forward with a career plan, may not connect with morale.
To Build High Morale
High morale is closely connected to teamwork and confidence in the leadership. There are many things leaders can do with the team to build teamwork and morale.
- Make decisions as a team.
- Hold regular team meetings.
- Encourage team activities such as:
- Hold team celebrations for individual or team achievements at work or elsewhere with a BBQ or party.
- At the team level this could celebrate meeting a tough deadline, responding well to an unusually difficult situation, or reaching a new level of productivity.
- At the individual level this might recognize a marriage, a new baby, or a community or scholastic achievement.
- Establishing a (softball) team or other outside group activity.
- Encourage team members to work with others on solving problems.
- Encourage everyone to take responsibility for, and initiation of all of the group’s actions, including the above items.
The goal is to have the team know they have real power and are in control of themselves as a team. You serve as their resource.
Build Faith In The Leadership
- Be there for the team when they need you.
- Be clear to the team about the overall direction, goal, and purpose of the organization and the team.
- Bring the team’s relevant concerns and issues to the next level of management, and get back to the team with management’s response.
- Don’t take the team’s problems away from them. Be a good coach.
- Take the moral high ground during emergencies, such as:
- Really put safety before productivity.
- Voluntarily recall sub-standard products.
- Give everybody information on the big picture, particularly anything that might help people make better, more informed decisions.
- Let everybody know of successes in other parts of the organization, and make sure that their successes are known in other parts of the organization.
- Invite senior managers to visit your department and talk with team members, perhaps even sitting in on a team meeting. This shows openness and cooperation and support of your efforts to build morale. Everyone likes to meet senior managers.
- Share financial information with the whole group.
- Foster their relationships with other parts of the organization, which might include:
- Smoothing the way for them to invite a member from another department to a team problem-solving meeting, when the subject affects the other department.
- Encouraging team members to work on company-wide problem solving teams.
Believe that high morale and personal pride are possible in large organizations.
cc 411 — © Barry Phegan, Ph.D.