Tip 1: Leaders must share the vision and provide their teams with a sense of belonging.
The leader of the business often has a company vision (undocumented and not shared) and perhaps a strategic plan that is also rarely shared with everyone and we mean everyone!
Many employees want to feel as if they are part of something and that something should be explained in the company vision. Leaders should not be afraid in openly sharing their vision to allow the entire team to work towards a shared set of goals and outcomes.
Implementing creative and regular vision workshops and exercises driven initially by the leader is a great way to engage with the teams and collectively commence the journey. Something that has proven to work really well is passing the running of these workshops to functional managers. This shared trust between the leader and managers helps their relationship and promotes ownership of the process. Functional managers need not necessarily work with their own teams but across different teams.
It will not be long before the leader feels a sense of pride and accomplishment that he or she is no longer alone in their quest.
Feeling part of the vision that is bigger than oneself contributes significantly to positive employee morale.
Similarly, conducting feedback sessions with the employees on the progress of the strategic plan and specific targets is a great way to bring the journey to life. Employees will feel intrinsically rewarded for seeing the positive business achievements and it allows any course correction to be collectively determined where progress was not as expected. By sharing the plan and targets employees feel entrusted with important business information and a strong relationship forms.
When leaders share a vision, plans and goals for where the company is headed and are positive about the direction, employees will exhibit high morale.
Tip 2: All employees should practice positivity – no exceptions!
Reframe the Language
Words and behaviours have an impact on how you feel and the way others perceive you. The key is to create a culture in the business that practices positivity.
Leadership across all levels of the business must watch out for negativity and immediately address it – striving for a workplace that does not tolerate anything but positive language no matter what the situation is the ultimate objective. Some people are not naturally positive, and this will require leaders to be role models in how they should speak and behave.
One way to assist leaders is the introduction of observational training in the workplace. This entails professional coaches to sit in meetings (group or individual) and in the general workplace to observe the interactions and listen to the conversations between participants and observe body language, communication styles and employee engagement. A coaching plan should then be set to address the ‘not positive’ behaviours.
One of the biggest contributors to negativity in workplaces is the treatment of humans making mistakes. Remember – mistakes will always be made. The art is how to find the good in it.
Any follow up discussions should focus on the learnings and the way forward to improve.
Practice intentional Gratitude
Robert Emmons (2003) suggests that focussing our gratitude on people for whom we are thankful rather than circumstances or material items will enhance the benefits we experience. Studies suggest that practicing gratitude daily may increase our optimism and happiness and reduce negativity (Emmons and McCullough, 2003).
Gratitude doesn’t have to be saved for significant events. Practicing intentional gratitude helps to form a habit of being grateful for every good thing around you and appreciating that there is nothing too small for you to be thankful for. Even if it is as simple as appreciating the colleague who made you cup of coffee because you were busy, or how quickly someone delivered an important task…. don’t leave anything out when practicing your gratitude.
Not only does expressing your gratitude for someone have a positive impact on them, but it can do wonders for increasing your own levels of gratitude and happiness in the long run
Have ‘professional’ fun
Sometimes fun in the workplace isn’t practiced for fear of retribution. Invest time in defining fun for a professional workplace and there will be an immediate positive impact on morale. Yes, this can be achieved with planned corporate ‘team-building events’ however leaders should create this as part of every workday as external and structured team-building exercises are generally short-lived. Allow laughter and encourage social interaction – allow employees to enjoy each other’s company as this will promote comradery.
Remember, positivity permeates.
Tip # 3 – Create excitement about change!
We all know that change is inevitable in every business and there are endless models depicting the stages of change and countless strategies to assist with progressing through these stages however the best approach, and the one that has the greatest positive impact on morale, is to create excitement.
People are emotional and take action largely based on emotions. If we evoke positive emotions about the change then employees will be more engaged and transition more willingly to the changed state.
But, how do we get everyone excited by change?
(i). Challenge traditional thinking
Dedicate time to thinking. This is the most powerful tool we have and unfortunately, we spend too much time doing and not thinking. Collaborating with more people with diverse thinking styles creates great energy, great outcomes and great excitement.
(ii) Communicate with high energy
Direct your energy into communicating to employees what’s in it for them, highlighting the positives that perhaps they don’t see. Ensure they clearly understand how they are better off by working with you on the change to get great results.
Utilise the Change Initiator or assign Change Ambassadors to build anticipation and maintain momentum. Use colour, sound and various mediums to create hype.
Look for ways to make each significant change special and don’t forgot to keep aligning the change back to emotions.
(iii) Reward progress (effort) creatively
The single most important thing that can boost emotions is making progress, solving a problem, achieving milestones, getting through a to-do list…. even a small win can make a difference in how a person feels and performs.
Build the notion of “excitement” into all aspects of your work (planning, objectives setting, execution, reward & recognition)
Boosting workplace morale doesn’t happen overnight! It is a constant daily process – everyone needs to work at it – everyone needs to really want it– negativity is your nemesis.