Understanding Morale in the Workplace

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Morale in the work place

Whenever someone brings up the subject of Morale in the workplace there seems to be two common reactions.  Some managers see this as a meaningless topic that is more of a “feel good” topic than a legitimate business issue while other managers understand the bottom line impact morale has on a business.

Morale is often defined as “the mental and emotional condition (as of enthusiasm, confidence, or loyalty) of an individual or group with regard to the function or tasks at hand”.   So why should we really pay attention to our team’s morale?  Well the relationship between morale and motivation, and then between motivation and productivity is key to understanding why managers should pay attention to morale.   People are motivated by opportunities to satisfy needs which are important and meaningful to them.  In any business, motivated people work more productively than people who are not motivated.  This, of course, means that the motivation of your people has a direct bearing on the profitability of your business. 

How can a manager get a true reading of his teams’ level of motivation?  Well one of the measurements that the results from The Predictive Index survey show us is the level of Morale of an associate during the previous 3 to 6 months.  High Morale as measured by The Predictive Index means that the person feels good (positive) about their current job and management as they themselves perceive it.  Low Morale as measured by PI means that the person might not feel good (are negative) about their current work environment and the potential they see for themselves in it, as they themselves perceive it.  This usually means that there is something specific and important to them about which they are dissatisfied, or uncertain.  Uncertainty itself is often a common cause of low morale.   

So is the way to improve morale to increase compensation, or have lots of team building events?  Well these may have a short term effect on some and no effect on others.  But in order to achieve and then maintain high morale a manager must understand specifically what each individual needs to stay motivated.  Motivational needs can differ widely in different individuals, and a manager in today’s world must recognize and understand this if he/she is to motivate them to achieve the highest level of productivity.  This may seem like an impossible task but once you know how to discover these needs it becomes easier to act upon them and the results are always worth the effort.

A behavioral assessment like The Predictive Index gives the manager a clear guideline of what each individual’s motivating needs are.   Some of us have a need for independence and control of our own work, while others have more of a need to be encouraged, reassured and supported by their managers.  Many of us have a need for security in terms of a stable and familiar work environment while others of us have the need for variety and change.  The old adage of treating others as you would like to be treated couldn’t be further from the truth.  Managers need to learn to treat others as they each want to be treated. 

The bottom line is that in order to truly have an engaged work team, they must be motivated by what is important to them.  Then once motivated properly overall team morale improves which always leads to a more energized, productive workforce.