Sunday, February 7, 2010

Go Along to Get Along? Building Team Morale

In a Peanuts cartoon Lucy demanded that Linus change TV channels, threatening him with her fist if he didn’t.

“What makes you think you can walk right in here and take over?” asks Linus. “These five fingers,” says Lucy. “Individually they’re nothing, but when I curl them together like this into a single unit, they form a weapon that is terrible to behold.”

“Which channel do you want?” asks Linus. Turning away, he looks at his fingers and says, “Why don’t you guys get organized like that?”

Perhaps you have asked that question with regard to your organization. Nothing can be more frustrating than a non-cohesive organizational structure that is being lead by an unorganized individual or team.

In the illustration above, Lucy epitomizes an old-school mentality of leadership. The leader, Lucy in this instance, demands a change. When her authority is questioned she squashes the challenge with the threat of force.

Linus in this case represents team members who too often go along to get along. Organizational structure and camaraderie does not have to be elusive, strive to achieve it and see the difference it can make.

Team morale is important if you want to succeed. Andy PacPhail said, “You have to walk the walk. You have a responsibility to your system to be out there and understand the conditions your players are playing in. You have to take an interest in the players in your organization.”

Morale in your organization can be your greatest asset if it is strong or your greatest liability if you lack it. Good leaders understand why it is important and are proactive in building it. Here are a few suggestions on how to build and sustain morale in your organization; it’s what I call the 3 B’s of building morale.

Be open to new ideas. One of the greatest challenges to any organization is staying fresh with new ideas and ways of thinking. When members of an organization feel that their ideas are falling on deaf ears, poor morale will soon follow.

The greater the distance between the one who casts the vision and the ones who execute the vision, the greater the chance for poor morale, don’t let this happen. Strong morale is built and maintained by a leader who understands that fresh ideas are the lifeblood of the organization. He also understands that those closest to the execution of the vision have much to offer.

Be transparent with your team. Good morale is not something you can artificially manufacture. Team morale is built on a foundation of trust. Team members know they are being dealt with honestly and when leadership is being phony.

Transparency is a partnership between the leader and the team. Ken Blanchard said, “In the past a leader was a boss. Today’s leaders must be partners with their people…they no longer can lead solely based on positional power.” A leader will do more to build team morale by being transparent than he could ever hope to accomplish by positional power alone.

Be generous with praise. Fred Rogers said, “As humans, our job is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has-or ever will have-something inside that is unique to all time. It’s our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression.”

Developing the expression of praise for your team will go a long way in building morale that will see you through good times and bad. When facing challenging times, half the battle is won when morale is strong.

Team members who know they are appreciated and subsequently rewarded for their efforts are an invaluable asset to your organization. Wise leaders will as George Colman said, “Praise the bridge that carried you over.’

Strong morale is built when leaders are open to new ideas, transparent with your team, and generous with praise. How is your morale?

© 2010 Doug Dickerson

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