The E in MORALE is Equity and Transparency. Our parents told us that life is not fair. This is often true in life but it should not be the rule in our work lives. Very few things impact employee morale more than a belief that personal relationships and biases are the primary determinants of how they are paid, viewed, and rewarded at work. When employees do not understand the system for calculating bonuses and then see the best bonuses going to those who the boss “likes,” they will lose their zeal for going “above and beyond” the call of duty. This is a common phenomena in many organizations and something to which senior management should pay attention. Every organization should have a transparent performance evaluation and bonus system. Managers should spend a comparable amount of time with all direct reports and other members organization, being careful not to appear to favor some over others. If employees value the tangible and intangible organizational rewards and believe that everyone on the team is subject to the same rules, they will strive to excel and exceed the basic standards of performance.
The L in MORALE is Leadership. Every member of your team, regardless of their function and responsibilities, has the potential to be a leader. In some aspects of their lives they are leaders. Investing in their leadership abilities is one of the surest ways of convincing them of their worth and potential. In addition they become better able to empathize with the challenges of the organization’s leaders and they become more capable problem solvers. Something as simple but as important as leader communications can be a powerful competency to build in your administrative assistant or the members of your call center. Invest in ALL of your people as potential leaders and the payoff will be immense.
The A in MORALE is appreciation. There are few things more powerful than the act of expressing appreciation for an employee. You send powerful messages when you do so. By expressing appreciation you demonstrate your awareness of an individual and what they do. Many employees feel faceless and unknown. Secondly, you recognize their unique talents and contributions. The payoff…..greater use of their talents and a higher level of engagement and contribution.
The R in MORALE is tangible rewards. Nearly every person goes to work with an expectation of tangible rewards. The more common are obviously compensation and benefits, both of which have a significant impact upon employee morale and engagement. Other tangible rewards include formal recognition such as promotions, commendations, organizational awards, valuable training, time off, sought after responsibilities, and a host of others. When additional financial benefits are unavailable at a particular point in time, these others can mean a great deal to many employees. It is also not enough for most people to simply receive a paycheck and their other benefits. Other forms of tangible reward in addition to compensation and benefits become a powerful incentive to give a greater degree of effort and participate in solving hard problems. When all of these are insufficient or absent you will find very little additional effort beyond the minimum that is required to get paid.
The O in MORALE is clear, challenging, and connected objectives. Employees who do not understand what is expected of them and how they fit into the larger organization become frustrated and ultimately complacent. There is virtually no chance that they will contribute to solving tough problems or be a part of organizational innovation. They will do only what they must and then depart for the day. Motivated employees have clear objectives with measurable outcomes that are connected to the corporate vision. These objectives continually challenge them to improve. They know their unique contributions to the Company AND they know how well they are doing without having to ask. Clear, connected and challenging objectives = motivated and innovative people.
The M in MORALE is intelligent management. Employees must believe that they are being intelligently managed. Micro-management restricts their autonomy while too little support from their managers leaves many employees feeling as if they have been deserted. They must also believe that their management team is making smart decisions. How many times are senior managers transparent enough with the entire company to explain the rationale behind decisions that effect the entire team? The objective of intelligent management is to provide the degree of autonomy that suits each employee’s capabilities and to ensure they are informed about important decisions. This contributes to their motivation by enhancing their sense of control, achievement, and affiliation. As a result they feel a great degree of significance as a member of this team.
There are three higher level needs within each person. The strength of each need varies by person. They are Power, Achievement, and Affiliation. You can connect morale and engagement challenges with each of these needs. All three are tied to the individual person’s desire to be significant. Phyllis Horton-Mack, an expert in workplace motivation and engagement, and I developed the Pinpoint Model for identifying the source of morale and engagement challenges. The acronym for the six sources is MORALE. They are a lack of Intelligent Management, Poor or Non-Existent Objectives, Lack of Tangible Rewards, No Appreciation, Failure to Treat Employees as Potential Leaders, and a Lack of Equity and Transparency. Fixing any of these six components is dependent upon effective communication.