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Good Morale – where does one find it?

An article about morale in the workplace and what we mean by it.

Often, we hear about low morale. Usually along the lines of ‘morale has never been so bad’. And we all reflect that the mood in that workplace must be horrid and are glad that we are not part of it. Long faces, demotivation, lack of commitment or loyalty, poor communications, grumbling, grievances, arguments – are all features. So if there is such a thing such as bad or low morale, has anyone ever heard of ‘good morale’? Seriously!

 I never hear anyone talk about high or good morale? I have heard about a highly motivated workforce. I have heard about a good engagement process. But I have never heard about morale with the term ‘good’ in front of it. I doubt that such a thing exists? And if that is the case, is ‘bad’ morale simply an inevitable feature in all workplaces.

I ask this for genuine reason. I wrote a few weeks ago about the shabby way in which employees in one unnamed organisation had been treated in a recent reorganisation. One of the frequent complaints heard there was about their morale and how awful it was. Now as poorly as their leaders handled matters on the restructuring – they truly were shocking, it is also a fact that the same organisation suffered poor morale for as long as I can recall. The leaders did ‘diddly squat’ about it and if truth were told - acknowledge the fact themselves. So what would it take for them to change the mood? Or is it a fact that low morale will exist come what may?

I do not know the answer to that and I am only really begging a question. For we all spend largish sums of money on motivating and engaging staff. Some do it really, really well and if one meets one of those employers or one of their employees, the infectious nature of the energy and motivation is great. But they are not in the majority. Many do not lift a finger to address morale and seem to think that pay and a few benefits should do the trick. How often do we hear about a firm countering an offer made to one of their employees when about to resign - a wake up call if ever there was one!

Money does not generate good morale. It might get someone up in the morning to work a tad harder but it does not contribute one jot to morale. That can only be generated by the relationship of leaders and their teams; the extent to which staff feel engaged, listened to, valued and praised. It is created by honest and sincere conversations, a feeling that the employee is wanted and their opinion welcomed. A feeling that the organisation will go the extra mile for the employee and vice versa. A genuine investment in people and their development and a healthy respect of organisational values by leaders and a condemnation as well as firm action when poor behaviour is displayed, but most of all the best of communications.

On the last point, I recently flew to and from Majorca. My plane was delayed – by many hours - in both directions, one way because of a technical glitch and the other because the plane landed with 15 passengers requiring a wheelchair. Unfortunately, Palma Airport only has one wheelchair! 4 hours delay outward – all spent on the aircraft on the runway or back at the stand. The other delay of 3 hours spent in a departure lounge. On the way out, the communications between the captain and passengers was just stunning. Regular, honest, funny at times as well as always sensitive and truthful. We were irritated by the delay but understood that it was no ones fault and someone was in charge sorting it. And not one complaint!

On the other journey, the exact opposite - little information, confusion, mixed messages, untruthfulness, irritability from the ground staff and some obnoxious behaviour by both staff and passengers.  

I example the above to illustrate how communication lies at the heart of all things good and all things bad. People feel better when they know what is going on and are treated as adults. It is so much simpler. Yet we seem to trade in spin, or secrets, or misleads. Not quite sure really but I do know that if this is your organisation, you will have ‘bad morale’.

If anyone knows different and can argue back at me on this - great I am ‘all ears’. I would love to hear about ‘good’ morale.

Just saying!

Martin Tiplady
3 August 2016

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