Want Higher Profits?

"Nothing I do seems to matter."

"No one cares around here."

"I never know what's going on."

"What's the use? What I do doesn't impact the bottom line."

Sound familiar? Every day, thousands of employees think such things. And the more they think these things, the more their morale declines. Even if you never hear your staff utter these phrases, you can spot low morale in an instant. Procrastination on projects, gossiping or excessive idle chat, excessive absenteeism, refusal to pitch in unless asked, and low interest in clients are some common symptoms. Unless you take steps to raise your staff's morale, your company can quickly head for disaster.

Unfortunately, morale in the workforce has decreased significantly over the last few years as economic pressures such as heavier workloads, mergers and downsizing have increased. Eventually, low morale can lead to cultural shifts in your company, including a non-trusting work environment, defensiveness, lack of purpose, "in the box" thinking, little to no collaboration on projects, low productivity and even lower profits. When morale is low, fear runs high.

The fact is that employees with high morale perform at significantly higher levels than those with low morale. As a manager, you need to build one-on-one relationships with employees to keep their morale high and ensure the company's success. The integrity, honesty, trust and respect you show your staff daily builds performance and raises morale, resulting in dedication and hard work. Increase your awareness of how you affect morale, and with that knowledge you can increase your effectiveness. The following ideas can help.

  • Know what you can control. You control how you relate to employees, and you have the power to improve relationships. You control how and what you communicate. You have control over learning to understand your employees and choosing to implement things that make a difference. You have control over your professional development and continuous learning. You have the power to make a significant improvement in morale and to create a healthy, synergistic work environment designed to inspire commitment and performance. In good times and in bad, you have the responsibility to inspire and maintain high spirits in the workplace. So take action on what you control.
  • Love the ones you're with. Sincere appreciation is the No. 1 motivator for employees. Notice and acknowledge employees' successes — both small and large — verbally and publicly. While it's human nature to focus on the negative, such a focus will only breed more negative actions. It takes persistence, commitment and discipline to seek out the positive. What you focus on expands, so focus on what is right and good. Tell your staff when you notice friendly customer service, when they go the extra mile, when they work the weekend or spend time on a project. Give honest compliments. A thumbs-up sign, a pat on the back, a smile or a handwritten thank-you note can create connections. Mark Twain said, "I can live for two months on a good compliment." Mary Kay, the pink-Cadillac-driving makeup maven, told her employees to treat others the way they would want to be treated. She also believed that humans like praise and recognition more than sex or money. She built her cosmetics empire on her beliefs. Employees will treat the customers the same way a manager treats them.
  • Make contact with employees. Ask about their hopes and dreams. Let them know that you are on their side and that you want them to succeed. Encourage employees to care for, support and trust each other. Organize affordable day care, allow for flexibility and offer counseling or gym memberships. Creating a "family atmosphere" of love and support ignites high productivity and fierce loyalty. You will receive back even more than you give.
  • Communicate by listening. Relationships are about communication, and the fastest way to improve them is to listen more and talk less. Use three magic words: "Tell me more." Practice taking a step back and delaying your response to what you hear. Listen to ideas, insights and opinions on improvements. Seek to understand. Listening cultivates loyalty and trust. Communicate that you really care about what matters to them and that you consider their ideas valuable. Then implement as many of their ideas as possible. Ask for feedback and respond appropriately. They, too, will learn to be non-defensive and open to feedback. Make an effort to have more one-on-one informal conversations, and allow employees to express their feelings and establish trust. They want to feel as though they have been heard. On a regular basis communicate your mission, vision, goals and the roles your employees play in them. Communicate opportunities to advance and allow your staff to take part in setting goals.
  • Meaning, purpose and passion. When employees are happy, they put their hearts and souls into their work. Everyone wants to feel passionate and enthusiastic about what they're doing. Everyone wants to be part of something great. Everyone wants to feel important. Speak regularly about the significance of each employee's contribution and the importance of the work. Einstein observed we are the happiest when we are doing something exciting and meaningful. You have the power to create the condition where employees become enthusiastic and passionate, doing soul-satisfying work in a way that heals, empowers and profits. At times, you may feel that your challenges are too big to handle alone. Have faith that others will follow your lead. All real change is slow, so be patient with yourself and others. Feel privileged to have the opportunity to serve and to teach others they can do more than they ever dreamed possible. You make the world a better place when you offer a workplace where people want to come to use their talents and share their expertise for an important purpose.
  • The company of your dreams. If you want to create a high-performance team that drives your organization forward, you need to bolster your company's morale today. When you do, you'll have a highly productive team that takes initiative on projects, treats clients like royalty, has pride in its work and genuinely wants the company to succeed. Only then can your organization excel no matter what the economic conditions.
Content Library
Dig through our best stories from the magazine, all sorted by category for easy surfing.
Read More
Content Library
Buyer's Guide
Find manufacturers and suppliers in the most extensive searchable database in the industry.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide