Welcome to this series on Success. I hope you find the readings thought provoking and inspiring. Please enjoy.
Creating a workplace culture that breeds high morale and engagement doesn’t happen by accident. It requires leadership – wise, empathetic, discerning, thoughtful, strategic, and caring leadership. It’s a leadership you can’t fake. It has to flow from the ethos of who you are as a person.
Ken Blanchard knows a thing or two about leadership. Along with his wife Margie, he has created a leadership development company that embodies several principles of a high engagement culture. In traditional Blanchard style, I’ve taken some complex issues of morale and engagement and tried to crystallize them into simple truths that all leaders can use to build morale in their organizations.
Catch People Doing Something Right
Too many work environments are focused on catching people making mistakes. In a well-intentioned effort to improve productivity and efficiency, leaders are prone to reduce an employee’s performance into raw data, metrics, and statistics. Every detail is parsed and analysed and people’s shortcomings are readily pointed out. Years ago, Ken Blanchard said, “People who feel good about themselves produce good results, and people who produce good results feel good about themselves.” It’s a virtuous cycle built on the concept of catching people doing something right.
One of the easiest and quickest ways a leader can improve workplace morale is to notice, encourage, and celebrate the good things that are happening. It’s a common occurrence at The Ken Blanchard Companies for us to start meetings with the agenda item of “praisings and celebrations.” We take time to intentionally focus on the good things people are doing and celebrate their successes.
Be Other Focused
Another strategy for enhancing workplace morale is to serve others. It’s hard to be self-centered, critical, and myopic about your own business when you reach out and help others less fortunate. We have an in-house charity organization called Blanchard for Others that supports numerous local, national, and world charities.
Employees have a voice in not only directing funds to these organizations but getting personally involved. Employee volunteer efforts are encouraged using “Blanchard Ambassador” hours—paid time off apart from an employee’s own vacation time—that allow team members to serve with charities locally and abroad. You can build employee morale by not only engaging their minds at work, but their hearts as well.
Treat Your People How You Want Them to Treat Your Customers
The way you treat your people will be the manner in which they treat your customers. It doesn’t matter if you have a catchy customer service slogan, wallpaper the office with posters of the company mission statement and values, or create fancy marketing materials touting your brand promise, if you treat your people like they’re irresponsible, untrustworthy, and have to be micromanaged, they’ll treat your customers the same way.
At Blanchard, people are extended a fair amount of autonomy in their roles to do what’s in the best interest of our clients. Leadership takes this same approach with employees through various programs like Infant at Work, where new mothers are encouraged to bring their infants to work until they reach 6 months of age. The company also sets aside a certain percentage of our profits for employees to donate to the charity of their choice through our Give Back program. The employee, not the company, decides where that money will be used. Autonomy and flexibility are key components in creating a high-morale workplace.
It’s the Culture, Stupid
To plagiarize Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign slogan (“It’s the economy, stupid”)—It’s the culture, stupid! At the end of the day, the creation of a high-morale, highly engaged workforce is about intentionally nurturing the norms and behaviors you want in your culture and extinguishing those you don’t. Every day Ken Blanchard leaves a “morning message” voicemail for the entire company. In that message, Ken takes the opportunity to reinforce the core values of our culture. He praises accomplishments of individuals, share concerns for those in need, discusses his latest insights about life and leadership, or shares other inspirational ideas and encouragement.
Any single one of these strategies is insufficient, and certainly not appropriate for every organization. However, taken together, they weave together to form the fabric of our culture that results in a highly engaged, positive morale workforce. It doesn’t matter your industry, geography, or size of organization when it comes to building a high-morale culture. It starts with leadership. It starts with you!
For more blogs, please visit www.NicksDigitalSolutions.com and choose Nick’s blog
For E-Learning material, please visit www.NicksDigitalSolutions.com and choose the E-Learning shop (in particular Pathways to Success).
Nick Thorne is the founder of Nick’s Digital Solutions Limited. He lives in Levin, New Zealand.