Office morale makeover


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Office morale makeover

  1. 1. Office Morale Makeover By Chelse Benham “The best morale exists when you never hear the word mentioned. When you hear a lot of talk about it, it’s usually lousy.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower The ebb and flow of daily life creates stressful situations. The office is often the place where personality differences among office members, and the problems that arise because of them, occur. Opposing dynamics can develop between co- workers, employees versus employers or between administrators. Factions of “us versus them” scenarios are debilitating to office morale and productivity. Sometimes the difference lies in the desires of the people involved, desires that are at the core very similar. “Everybody has individual attitudes. Morale is bringing these attitudes together through communication,” said Susie Chapa, coordinator of Cooperative Education at The University of Texas-Pan American’s Career Placement Services Office. “Having respect for each other and then communicating openly builds a strong office team spirit that is at the core of office morale.” Negative office politics can hamper knowledge sharing, prevent appreciation for work well done from being rewarded and lead to the loss of valuable talent. Linda Holbeche, director of research at Roffey Park, a international business research firm located in England, described negative office politics as manipulation, back- stabbing, bad mouthing and the “dark side” of human behavior that has negative effects that may exclude key people from the decision making process, create a loss of faith in top management, increase internal competition and conflict within the workplace. In light of the destructive consequences, is it any wonder that maintaining healthy office morale should be a company’s top priority? Michael G. Schwern, program developer and assurance manager for Onyx Neon, an on-line consulting company, listed these simple ways of destroying morale: • give impossible deadlines and continually miss them • tell someone “just get it done” • imply a lack of trust • lie • play management games; play favorites among people, withhold information, sidestep responsibility, take credit for other people’s work • shuffle priorities • apply pressure and a lot of it • don’t reward a job well done, instead criticize it Don Price, a Canadian management consultant and author of “The Practice Manager” newsletter, offers the following steps to improve office morale: • Clearly communicate the office’s mission and philosophy as the first step to building a team spirit.
  2. 2. • Do not allow divisions between staff positions to create an “us versus them” mentality. • Review expectations periodically to ensure that they are in line with staff experience and workload. • Listen to staff and provide them with opportunities to voice their concerns and ideas and help them identify solutions. Openly respond to and value the suggestions offered. • Allow staff to be involved in some decision-making with regard to their own work. • Communicate requirements of the job clearly to the staff so that they know exactly what is expected of them. • Ensure that the staff has a manageable workload with access to resources that ensures they can do their work effectively. • Be consistent about staff responsibilities and procedures. • Recognize signs of stress and burnout. • Evaluate staff performances annually. • Provide training and professional enhancement courses to employees. Allow for professional growth. • Acknowledge jobs well done by appreciating individual accomplishments. • Share positive feedback with staff from clients and people outside the office. • Provide fair compensation commensurate with skills and responsibilities. • Be supportive of staff and include them verbally as part of a team. Maura Gallagher, editor of, offers straightforward tips to keep spirits high among employees. Get your employees involved. Ask employees for input on how to improve morale. Be honest. No matter what the situation, let employees know factual information. Laugh a little. Margaret Lobehnstine, human resources business expert at, recommends bringing “humor to the workplace by putting jokes on a bulletin board.” Accentuate the positive. Remind your staff how many changes it has weathered. Celebrate successes. When projects wrap up celebrate the hard work of the staff. Encourage daily walks. Let your staff know it’s okay to take short breaks and go out for walks. Develop clear roles and responsibilities. Clearly state that each person brings to the table something different and it’s that difference that makes the team whole. Establish office policies. Discuss issues that cause the most conflict and resolve them with policies that everyone has to follow. Formalize a communication system. Provide opportunities for employees to communicate problems in a safe environment. This may be done at a weekly meeting or a roundtable discussion.
  3. 3. Hold a “state of the union address” at least once a year. Discuss how everyone in the office fits in the bigger picture. Allow for interaction from members to ask questions or to comment. Sign your office up for a team building workshop. Look for workshops that teach communication techniques, activities that build trust and effective problem solving. There are seven ways you can rally the troops suggests Joanna Krotz, manager of Muse2Muse Productions, a content strategy and editorial services firm, and founding editor of - a women's money management site. 1. Choose your attitude. So says Harry Paul, co-author of business bestseller "Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results." One of the four tenets of the popular “Fish!” management philosophy is choosing to have a positive attitude, which means communicating to staff that each one can make a difference. 2. Be honest, visible and accessible. People feel out of control without information. 3. Maintain small rewards. Provide professional growth seminars and skills enhancement workshops for employees that show commitment and strong work ethic. 4. Organize a charitable event. Helping others and rallying employees around a common cause tends to make everyone feel good. 5. Retool and stay challenged. When the company is not busy with clients, assign internal projects, such as creating new marketing materials or reorganizing workflow procedures. 6. Communicate success. Use every channel you have — brownbag lunches, e-mail, the company Internet, office meetings — to get out the word on wins, even small ones. 7. Ask each employee what they see for their future. Are they finding success and happiness in their job? Find out what the employee is thinking and what they desire out of their career. Morale is the invisible veil that cloaks all within it, permeating the relationships of each individual bad thus affecting the whole. No one negative attitude is isolated from the rest. Bottom line: Communicate openly from the heart and with respect for fellow co-workers. “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” – Frank Outlaw, author.