The attitude of the leader affects the atmosphere of the office. If you desire to add value by serving others, you will become a better leader. And your people will achieve more, develop more loyalty, and have a better time getting things done than you ever thought possible. ~John Maxwell
Harry’s manager walks into the office with barely a word to his direct reports. He unlocks his office door and goes in and closes it. He’ll be in there for an hour before emerging to face the troops and even when he does emerge, he’s straight to business. Harry has started looking for another job. The department is short staffed and he’s been working a lot of extra hours without any mention as to when it will end. He’s also had some really great (or at least he thought they were really great) ideas that have been brushed under the table without even a chance at implementation. Harry is frustrated and feels disconnected with his supervisor and the direction the department is heading. His co-workers are starting to feel the same and several have mentioned that they too are looking for work elsewhere. Harry feels as if he is on a sinking ship. It’s becoming increasing hard for him to get up each morning and make the commute to work.
Harry is fictitious; but, this scenario plays out in offices all across the United States. However, it doesn’t have to get to this point. When departments are short staffed everyone starts to feel the overload and that’s a good time to pull together and not drift apart. So let’s see what could be done to fix this situation. We’ll start with the issues Harry has raised. Harry seems to be feeling:
- Over worked
- Like he is not a priority
- Like he doesn’t have a voice
- Not challenged
N ow that we are clear on what the issues are, here are a few tips that may help Harry’s manager add value to Harry and the rest of his team.
- Greet your team first thing in the morning. Something as simple as greeting your employees everyday can make a huge difference in how everyone’s day goes. Make it a point to enter the office with a smile and greet everyone on your way to your office. Leaders set the tone for their team. Make sure you are setting the right one.
- Similar to number 1, make sure you are meeting regularly with your staff. You can’t know what’s going on with your employees if you aren’t keeping the lines of communication open. By opening up the door and talking regularly with your employees they will begin to see that you care about more than just getting the work done. I would suggest that you make some of these sessions just about how they are doing. It doesn’t always have to be about due dates and projects. Find out what your employee’s care most about and check in with them on this topic from time to time. That will go a long way in building trust.
- Look up when anyone enters your office but especially someone who is your direct report. This is a real pet peeve of mine and I’ve seen it happen to me and to co-workers. This is a fast way to make someone feel very unimportant and if repeatedly done can damage morale. The last thing you want is for your staff to feel like they can’t come to you with their questions and concerns. So, make a habit of stopping what you are doing and acknowledging anyone who enters your office to have a quick chat with you. If you need uninterrupted time, let your staff know that you will be behind closed doors for the next 30 minutes to an hour. Then close the door and take the time you need. However, don’t forget to open the door and engage your staff once you are done.
- Over communicate when it comes to things that can damage moral. In Harry’s case, he’s been working long hours and no one has told him how much longer he’s going to have to continue. When you see your staff going above and beyond, show your appreciation by keeping them in the loop on how things are progressing. If you are having a hard time staffing the department, communicate that to your staff. You may be surprised how long people are willing to step up when they feel appreciated and included. Depending on your hiring process, try including your staff during resume reviews and interviews. This will help them understand exactly what the issues are and possibly give them an opportunity to help you come up with a solution.
- When conducting team meetings don’t feel like you always have to come up with the answer. Use this time to engage your staff in problem solving. You may be surprised at what great ideas come out of these meetings. Additionally, while you can’t implement every idea that comes out of a meeting, implement the ones that you can and don’t forget to thank your staff for their input. Provide stretch assignments when possible to help them develop to the next level. A stretch assignment should take someone out of their comfort zone but shouldn’t push them into their frustration zone.
What tips would you provide for Harry’s manager to keep moral trending up?