As a leader, you have a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. It’s not enough to simply oversee the daily operations and work in the office—you also have to ensure that employees feel confident, respected and empowered. High team morale is key to optimal productivity, and it can be surprisingly fragile—there are lots of conflicts and complaints that can easily bring a team’s morale crashing down. It’s your responsibility to help people feel valued, welcomed, and respected so that they can feel secure and do their best work. But why is confidence and high morale so important, and how can you boost your own ability to help employees find that inner confidence? Let’s take a look.
The Value of Morale in the Workplace
You might not think of self-esteem as an essential ingredient in productivity, but consider it: do you do your best work when you’re not feeling great about yourself? High morale not only boosts productivity and work quality, it also helps to retain talent. People who are happier and more confident at work are more likely to stick around and won’t miss as many workdays while they are employed. This improves the company’s bottom line and makes the office a more pleasant place to be overall. Companies are investing in professionals who are able to lead effectively and communicate well. On the other side of the coin, poor morale increases employee turnover and has a negative impact on customer service, quality of work, and productivity.
Set a Good Example
Being a team leader means setting an example—being a role model and mentor for your employees. If you set a good example and maintain a good attitude, you’ll be more likely to motivate your employees and see them following your lead.
Develop Your Communication Skills
You can always improve your communication skills, plain and simple. Many people today are so used to communicating via email, chat, and other tech tools that they’re a little rusty or underdeveloped when it comes to communicating with people face-to-face. It’s crucial to be aware of how you are treating other people in every interaction—and to think about how those interactions might be interpreted by someone who isn’t in your head.
Since a large number of workplace conflicts are the direct result of poor communication or misunderstandings, the need for positive but constructive communication cannot be overemphasized. How you communicate, with both your words and actions, sends strong messages to your team, whether you intended to or not.
Compliment and Offer Praise
When someone has worked really hard on a project, it can be crushing and humiliating not to receive recognition. No one wants to feel small and disempowered, especially when they’ve done a great job. While you don’t need to praise your team for everything, it’s important to reward employees, give shout-outs, and thank your employees for their hard work. Complimenting your team for their achievement costs you nothing and sends a powerful positive message that can improve morale and boost your employees’ confidence.
Listen to New Ideas and Employees
You never know where the next great idea is going to come from—and it might just never come if you don’t make it a point to listen. Your employees can be a great source of new ideas, and it’s important not to let your team stagnate. In addition to giving you innovative ideas for improvement, taking your employees’ ideas into consideration makes them feel respected and boosts their confidence.
Listening is important when there’s a conflict in the office as well. While you’d probably rather let them work things out on their own, it’s your job to be the mediator—the neutral third party—that can help to solve the problem in a way that benefits everyone. When no one feels like they’ve “lost” morale isn’t impacted in a negative way.
Take and Give Constructive Feedback
People can only change if they are willing, and people would often rather stay upset quietly rather than create conflict. Be receptive to feedback about your performance so you can improve the work environment for everyone. It’s just as important to give constructive feedback that empowers your employees to improve, rather than tearing them down. Mistakes happen, and they should be seen as part of the process, not a condemnation of a person’s ability, character, or competence.
Goals should be challenging—but they should also be achievable. Setting the bar too high just stresses people out and too often makes them lose confidence and self-esteem when they inevitably fall short. Give people realistic, scalable goals that will help them build their confidence, not tear it down.
Encouraging people and managing your team’s morale, confidence, and self-esteem is a delicate balancing act. Know that you will have some setbacks. Keep going—the rewards are massive.
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