So often I see managers and companies throwing ineffective rewards and recognition at people in hopes of improving morale, when the quickest way to improve morale is simply by connecting with your people.
Why do managers miss the boat on recognizing and rewarding? It’s usually because it’s emotionally easier to buy movie tickets or give someone a cash bonus, even though it costs money and takes time. To avoid even the remote chance of getting into sticky emotional situations, managers avoid having conversations with people all together. One Navy supervisor declared in class that he really didn’t want to say “how are you?” in fear that he’d have to hear how the person really was, and he suspected it wasn’t going to be good. He also worried it would take up too much time.
The problem is, by not connecting with your people, you are missing the easiest way to improve morale. Sure, you’ll have issues come up that might feel uncomfortable. You may even have to help someone get some outside help, but just consider the opportunity you’re missing to make a difference in someone’s life, and subsequently improve morale. You’ll also be improving productivity, according to David Ballard PsyD, MBA: “Employees become much more motivated and productive when they know that their employer cares about their total quality of life, which goes beyond traditional wellness and includes physical, emotional, financial and social health.”
Try implementing one or more of the following tips to connect with your people, and watch morale improve:
Say good morning, good afternoon, good night – look people in the eye when you do and remember to smile.
Walk around and check in on people. Make it a regular practice.
Ask questions, and really listen. Be in the moment.
Acknowledge people’s questions, comments and feedback.
Follow through on requests, even if the decision is that nothing will happen. Let people know, and let them know why.
Communicate regularly - face-to-face, email, phone (whatever means you have). Vary the delivery method. Consider their DiSC style and talk their language.
Thank people. Recognize them for what they’re doing right. Show your appreciation.
Connection is a fundamental need that humans have, and with life’s busy pace and technology, it’s one of the greatest unfulfilled needs, and the easiest to fill. It really doesn’t take that much extra time to connect with your people, and it definitely pays big dividends in productivity, engagement and morale.
Stay tuned for next week’s article, Managing the Conversation.