This wordblog is for Sher Lynn, who asked for me to blog on morale.
Morale can be a complex idea for any group of people working together.
By definition, morale is “the degree of confidence and cheerfulness in the face of opposition; the spirit of optimism.”
Are the people hopeful?
Any leader worth his salt worries about this question. A group of people are together because of a commonality; if you’re concerned about morale, it’s clear that your group has a common, yet difficult journey ahead. You’ll be facing opposition.
If that’s the case, where do you get the motivation to keep them moving ahead? How do you build morale?
At some point, the common journey has to become a common treasure. Valuable enough to work for. And it must feel within reach.
Leaders struggle with this all the time. Push forward or work to prepare the people?
Here’s a quick checklist:
1. Are your people willing?
You’re the visionary. You can look at the empty field and see it ripe with harvest. But can your people? If you are encountering resistance, check in to see if your people know where they’re going. Take the time to communicate the larger vision and how it benefits them. Quickly you’ll increase their willingness.
2. Are your people able?
The bigger vision requires everyone to grow. But a sapling can’t grow fruit until it solidifies its trunk. Check in to see if the resistance comes from your people not being capable to bear the fruit of your vision. Take the time to assess the strengths of the group, and pay close attention to the weaknesses. When the members of your group are self-aware, they can see their need to grow as either benefiting or hindering the vision.
3. Are your people happy?
Here’s the hardest challenge for a leader: the happiness of the group. Growth means change, and change makes everyone feel uncomfortable. It’s tempting to make ill-timed promises to allay the group’s fears, but leaders are best served by the often-not-acknowledged origin of the word morale.
Morale was originally the feminine form of the Old French word for customs, ethics and good conduct. It is the softer side of doing good.
There is joy in doing good work. Leaders only have to adhere to the ethics and conduct they espouse. Integrity is a lighthouse in a sea of growth and change. A leader’s example, the dedication to doing right, creates a spirit of joy because everyone is inspired when they can help someone doing good things.
Morale is essential to the health of a growing organization.
These 3 tips are effective for any size group. This article on moving a crowd is also helpful for group dynamics. Feel free to add your own insights and feedback by commenting below.