4 Keys to Improving Employee Performance and Morale

Some managers think they can improve employee performance and morale by buying donuts occasionally or scolding employees like misbehaving teenagers. But these problems are usually much more deeply rooted in company policies, the social structure in the office, a company's system of rewards, etc. This places a great deal of the responsibility for poor morale on management, and no amount of donuts or scolding will fix it. Here are some general keys to begin changing your business from the roots up.
Leading out of the status quo
Talking about change is seldom enough to affect an enduring new direction. And the leaders of your company: owners, managers, and supervisors need to set the pace. Additional training and team building retreats are good ways to pivot to a new way of doing things. But it's up to leaders to maintain momentum after all the excitement for change wears off.
Positive feedback culture
Employees often suffer from poor morale because they don't feel appreciated and don't feel that they deserve appreciation. Simply offering encouraging statements is rarely effective as a motivational tool because people see them as patronizing. White River Academy is a boarding school for troubled teens. They have begun using a new approach to improving teens' self-concept by giving them opportunities to excel at something and then giving them due praise. This same approach works on struggling employees and is more cost effective than firing and retraining new people from scratch. Setting people up for success empowers your work force by giving them personal satisfaction for a job well done.
Setting new rules and expectations
There may be fundamental flaws in procedures or policies that lead to inefficiency. If this is the case then keep an open mind to changing these policies, even if they've been around forever. It may be worth hiring a consultant to identify where problems arise. But keep in mind that changing expectations doesn't necessarily mean rewriting your employee handbook. Often, break downs in the line of command and productivity occur because policies are inconsistently enforced. The statement, "The new plan is the old plan, we're just going to do it this time" is almost always a better solution than scrapping policies that haven't worked because they haven't been followed.
Give praise in their own language
Once people know what is expected of them, they'll do it if they know their employers recognize their hard work and creativity. Each person has his or her own ways they like to be appreciated. Some people relish public recognition; others are moved by a private pat on the back and a "well done". For some, you don't have to say anything; they measure appreciation in the level of trust you place in them. This puts the responsibility on the manager or supervisor to learn how each employee ticks and the best way to motivate them. Of course virtually everyone speaks the language of money. So you'll never go wrong rewarding loyalty and good work with a raise or a bonus.
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