Conquer all barriers to make yourself outmanoeuvre and outperform competition

21 September 2015 07:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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A low morale has many adverse consequences for the cohesion of your company as a whole. Negative morale may lead, on the one hand, to complacency and inattention to duties and on the other hand, to increased turnover, tardiness, absenteeism and abuse of working time. These results not only increase the amount of stress employees face but also create a multitude of personnel issues for supervision and administration. Low morale tends to escalate throughout the ranks until ultimately, it poisons the entire institution.

The most significant barriers to building morale are the following:

Lack of planning skills
Planning within a team setting is a unifying activity. Therefore, it is in your best interest to hone those skills that foster a collaborative approach. There are numerous formats for developing plans. Most have similar characteristics. Follow any of the popular formats, or use a standardized one that already exists in your firm. 

Yet, within the context of building morale and unity, just acquiring planning skills is not enough. Rather, the more relevant issue is your team’s ability to think strategically. That means honing skills that permit you and others to look forward into the future while maintaining a down-to-earth need to initiate short-
term actions. 


Lack of resourcefulness and drive
This barrier translates into being short of imagination, innovation and all those factors that are generally understood to mean creativity. Herein is the crux of any firm’s problems and consequently its opportunities; namely, to create innovative products, outfight and outperform competitors and win firm footings in 
growth markets.


Lack of vision
This barrier to morale can be addressed for the most part by getting individuals actively involved in developing strategic business plans. Here, again, standard formats exist. Most of them begin by developing a mission statement or strategic direction, which means creating a vision for your firm, business unit, or product line.


Lack of self-development
One of the identifiable characteristics of a well-run organisation is a system for ongoing learning, which leads to greater proficiency on-the-job and to career advancement. Self-development is certainly part of the morale factor and includes all the ingredients that go into your company’s value system.


Minimal self-confidence
Lack of self-confidence shows up as indecisiveness, lack of vision, over caution, or unwillingness to attack a problem or pursue an opportunity with vigour and boldness. There are too many signs of such negative behaviour to hide this human flaw from employees. Like an affliction, such damaging mannerisms can spread to all those who are exposed to them. If the lack of self-confidence cannot he converted to a positive attitude through self-motivation and outside assistance, the manager should step down before any further damage is done.


Procrastination
This barrier is the enemy of speed and is the sure way to dampen morale. Fast-changing consumer demands, global outsourcing, open-source software, near instant movement of capital across oceans, electronic transfers of knowledge and rapid communications from the field to decision-making managers make procrastination an obsolete and even dangerous leadership trait.


Erratic behaviour
Of grave concern is volatile behaviour that is inconsistent with a market situation. Employees can understand the need for a flexible managerial style or even a certain amount of unconventional behaviour, if it is understood and accepted as part of a manager’s inherent personality. However, they are unable to tolerate inconsistency and sudden erratic mannerisms, particularly if there is no apparent reason for what could be perceived as chaotic behaviour, who are exposed to them. If the lack of self-confidence cannot be converted to a positive attitude through self-motivation or with outside assistance, then the manager should step down before any further harm is done. In such an instance, another manager should take over day-to-day operations.


Why morale suffers
(1) Employees are often sceptical of management’s true commitment to meaningful change. (2) The work environment does not encourage innovative thinking. (3) Employees have little or no confidence that their opinions and ideas will be given any meaningful attention — with the likelihood that they will be dismissed without explanation. (40 Demotivators exist, such as job boredom, unfairness, casting blame, barriers to promotion, lack of recognition and clamping down on mistakes. (5) Managers fail to view self-esteem as a powerful motivator to move individuals forward. Also, individuals do not wish to pass for cowards in the eyes of their peers. (6) Little effort is given to the dynamic influence of unity, which is established by discipline 
and leadership.


Turnaround
How do you turnaround out of this pathetic situation? Start with these four strategies for building a happier, successful workplace with high morale.


Address the issues
Once you’ve recognized the signs of an unhappy workplace, find out the meaning behind the signs. Set one-on-one meetings with staff members and encourage honest dialogue about what’s impacting their feelings. Create a ‘what’s bothering you?’ box where employees can share concerns anonymously. Be open to suggestions but be realistic too – not every desire can be met and not every concern warrants major action. Although, always respect your people.


Recognize talent
Raises, bonuses and promotions are exceptional ways to reward and incentivize performance on an annual basis. If you want to see results on a daily basis, make employees aware of their value more often. It’s not necessary to feed someone’s ego minute-by-minute but even the most humbled individual needs to feel appreciated once in a while. Affirmations and support go a long way to boost morale. It doesn’t take much.


Prune underperformers
If after addressing issues and recognizing talent you still have a disruptive worker, someone who is extremely lazy, delivers subpar work, instigates problems, ignores bylaws, it may be time to let him go. Do this properly in conjunction with HR, of course. Just consider the cost/benefit. Remember - Negativity breeds negativity and hinders performance. 


Invest in staff development
You may be thinking, “I’m already paying for the experienced, knowledgeable staff I recruited.” Well, at this moment, hundreds of thousands of employees are at their cubicles searching for a better job. In a local independent survey, respondents ranked “opportunities for personal growth” ahead of salary as the main reason they took their current job and stayed.

Training results in fewer mistakes, breakdowns and help calls. It boosts employee performance, productivity and satisfaction. It increases customer fulfilment. It reduces downtime, staff turnover and recruitment costs. Ultimately, training improves profits. It’s a win-win for company and staff.

Morale-boosting efforts should be part of the workplace culture, resulting in a climate that fosters number of elements – a sense of ownership among staff, validation and appreciation for quality work and employee growth opportunities – on an on-going basis. Improved workplace morale may be an inside job but implementing some of the tips and strategies offered in the preceding paragraphs will give you the inside edge on keeping your employees
 really happy.

(Lionel Wijesiri, a corporate director with over 25 years’ senior managerial experience, can be contacted at lionwije@live.com)

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