Do you want a healthy, winning culture where people do what’s right even when no one is watching?
Focus on morale.
A lot of companies focus instead on mood – keeping people happy, all the time, at work.
You see this with games, parties, happiness stickers, motivational posters, and the like.
Like everyone, I enjoy being in a good mood.
Mood, though, is temporary dopamine.
It’s the sugar-donut approach to culture.
It does not inspire commitment to your mission or one another.
Without morale, your efforts to keep people in a good mood are mostly a waste of time and money.
Morale is about confidence, enthusiasm, and discipline – doing what’s right with a high degree of skill and care, even when no one’s watching.
Morale is your commitment to excellence.
Morale keeps you and your employees moving forward and bouncing back – able to handle both successes and setbacks.
To build high morale, start with these three principles.
1. Make sure everyone knows that their work is essential.
Create buy-in by discussing the thinking behind and the importance of your mission and vision, your goals, values, and strategy.
Get people involved in defining them.
Take the time to answer questions and challenges.
When someone asks why it means they care.
2. Get your employees the training, resources, and guidance to do their jobs well.
If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. If it’s not worth doing well, it’s probably not worth doing.
Set-up your employees for success.
Align work with people’s natural inclinations (see our PROM Servant Leader archetypes for a simple way to start).
People who report using their natural strengths each day are 2X to 3X more productive than their peers.
3. Let people know that you appreciate who they are and what they do.
Coach people to be the best versions of themselves (see our PROM Servant Leader archetypes for a simple way to start).
Do not subconsciously try to turn them into clones of you.
Nothing says, “I don’t appreciate you” quite like efforts to turn people into mini-mes or suggestions that they hide their identities.
Instead, help them contribute as their best and most authentic selves.
Take special care to ensure that your most vulnerable employees feel the safety and confidence that they can contribute as their best and most authentic selves.
Your most vulnerable employees tend to be those who look, think, or act differently than the majority.
Recognize people’s contributions in ways that they want to be recognized. It’s the morale-version of the platinum rule.
Take these three action steps, and you will develop an all-weather, high morale company that succeeds not just some of the time, but ALL OF THE TIME.
What’s your top takeaway? Let me know with a comment, DM, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. I set aside time each week for strategy calls. We’ll discuss:
- Your goals
- The obstacles you want to overcome
- 2-3 action steps to solve problems and get results
No sales, no bait-and-switch, no BS.