Five Ways Managers Kill Morale

You’re doing everything you can to make sure your talented employees stick around, your most enthusiastic workers have an infectious impact on morale, and your strugglers get the coaching and training they need to bolster their contributions. But while you work hard to staff your workplace, are you also guilty of these five simple blunders that may be standing in your way? Don’t take two steps back for every three you take forward. Watch out for these morale killers and stop them at their source: you.

  1. Unclear instructions and goals

    Nothing dismantles respect and alienates a team from their leader faster than mixed signals. Before you tell anyone to do anything, from signing off on a million dollar project to making a coffee run, be absolutely sure the person understands your instructions and has the resources they need to carry out your order. And if possible, make sure they understand why they’re being asked to do it.

  2. Too much concern with how the work gets done

    If your employees are getting the job done, don’t worry too much about how they do it. If they work on a flexible schedule or keep regular hours, team up or do it alone, take a step back and try not to micromanage. This is especially important if the work involves new idea generation and creativity.

  3. Deadlines and rigid demands that kill innovation

    If you’re asking your employees to come up with original ideas, give them time, room to breathe, and the freedom to suggest misses and make mistakes. If you punish less than-perfect suggestions or force them to adhere to unrealistic deadlines, you’ll only push them to cut corners, recycle stale ideas, and resent you.

  4. A lack of fairness

    Pay close attention to how you distribute rewards and credit. This includes seemingly insignificant rewards like your approval and attention. Even the smallest smiles and verbal thank-yous can cause serious morale problems if they’re withheld or misdirected.

  5. Setting a poor example

    Never ask your employees to do things you wouldn’t do yourself, and work hard to model the behavior and dedication you expect from them. If you want them to come in at nine, be at your desk by 8:30. And if you disregard a company policy—from misusing office resources to neglecting to wear a hard hat in a safety zone— expect your employees to follow suit.

For more guidance on how manager and supervisor behavior can directly influence employee morale in the workplace, consult with our staffing experts at Palmer Group.