The 21st century workforce is all about efficiency, but for those who obsess over the old fashioned bean counting rituals of yesteryear, you’ll find yourself with an unmotivated group of sad sacks looking out for themselves and the next better career opportunity.
Every business is a people driven business. The game is won and lost by motivation. If your team doesn’t feel like pitching in for the long haul, it’s because they lack the emotional investment for your collaborative ambitions. And it’s been more common in our digitally wired age to squeeze productivity by overbearing surveillance. Some places have even instituted the practice of having employees document their activity in five minute intervals just to make every moment count. It’s counterproductive. That kind of paternal monitoring might have worked in the mid 20th century when companies promised loyal employees a retirement pension and health care, but in the 21st century shark tank of opportunism, all that will create is resentment and distrust in the office. Your team needs skin in the game, and that has to be earned, not extracted.
Morale Boosters for the Office (For the long term)
1) Setting Goals: Dream Big, Dream Little – All too often we set unrealistic goals for ourselves and feel bitter resentment when those are not accomplished. It makes perfect sense, as the American dream subconsciously promises everyone they’ll be millionaires before the age of 30, so we reach for the sky. We live in a society that focuses on the fluke, the rare opportunity or the shake and bake shortcut to riches and fame, while a countless number of films like The Wolf on Wall Street pollute the movie houses with mixed messages about the thrill of financial success. But just because the odds are against the average Joe, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t always be going for the gusto.
Set two goals for yourself and your team. One that’s ambitious but realistic, so you don’t experience a steady stream of unreasonable failure. Then set one of those pie in the sky goals, a best case scenario. You don’t have to win the Super Bowl every year to have a well respected team, you just need to play the game with utter proficiency and achieve work “flow,” that mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. Achieve flow, and the dollars will follow.
2) Be More than Just Talking Heads – The water cooler is ok, but it’s hard to control the conversation when it’s random and loaded with gossip. At the same time, building camaraderie is important for teamwork. Having daily huddles or brief group gatherings is an easy way to get face-to-face time with everyone and keep on track. After work occasions (such as after-hour parties, go kart racing, bowling, etc.) can provide memorable experiences away from the daily stressors of a work day. Those that play together stay together. If you want to get your team thinking out of the box, you have to drag them out of the cubicles.
All work and no play makes everyone a dull employee. Creativity thrives on originality, which can be difficult to sustain in a stale work environment.
3) Communicate Clearly – It’s a good bet your staff consists of a wide variety of individuals in age. For seniors or war veterans, hearing loss can be a significant factor in missing critical information. And communication is essential in today’s instant push-button gratification environment. Fortunately there are plenty of options to compensate for hearing loss, such as the new ClearSounds Quattro 4.0 Bluetooth Listening Device or a wide selection of amplified office telephones which provide affordable solutions to hearing impaired employees.
All to often we feel that those with disabilities make for poor performance, which is not true. In fact, by providing performance enhancing technology options for your team, you’ll earn their instant loyalty to your ambitions. Monetary bonuses are nice, but personalized life-enhancing bonuses emotionally resonate. And hearing loss is just one of many factors that could be interfering with the overall mood of your team. A little bit of research on the people you’re spending your days with can pro-actively remove those persistent annoying distractions which limit daily productivity.
4) Don’t Be Afraid to Shift Gears With an All-Star Player – Everyone complains about the lack of talent in the workforce. Truth be told, there are plenty of extremely talented individuals, but companies simply don’t know how to handle them. Everyone has a specific job to do, but if someone shows ambition and drive for tasks outside of the job description, don’t be afraid to explore some options. There’s nothing more devastating to your team than watching motivational shining hard workers be squandered by the insecurities of middle management. If exceptional talent isn’t allowed to thrive, it demonstrates to all that keeping your head down and doing the minimal amount of work is the best way to keep your job. Micro-management is the silent killer of the company.
In the early 2000s, a popular business philosophy caught on, which wanted to limit the power of popular and motivational team players, as companies found themselves overly reliant on their abilities and thus, forced to pay higher salaries for keeping exceptional talent on the roster. The problem is, unless you’re a Moneyball master, you’ll end up with a bunch of so-so staff that hang around simply out of necessity. If you have a highly motivated, ambitious and talented new hire, work with their exceptional abilities. Don’t try to force them into a relatively limited job description.
Not saying that you can’t build a successful business from a pile of drone-like worker bees, it just won’t generate a lot of motivational buzz in the office place. You know the kinds of places these are… the ones with a handful of “likes” on their Facebook page, with the rare update, forced smiles on badly taken photos.
Not only has social media and the internet made it easy to spy on your present and future employees, your potential new hires are spying on you as well. If your Facebook page looks as dull as yesterday’s dishwater, you’ll miss out on real talent. Be motivational, hire inspirational, encourage creativity and you’ll achieve positive morale.
Written by Michael William Foster for ClearSounds. (The following is a first draft for an upcoming Huffington Post article in collaboration with Russell Smith.)
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