Building and maintaining team morale is critical to the success of you as a manager, the performance of your team and even the long term viability of your company or organization.
Despite what you may think the salary or wage an employee earns is not a predictor of their happiness or otherwise within a particular role or organization. There are many things that can kill team morale and impact the performance of your team.
While some of these company culture elements need to be driven from the CEO down, mid-level managers can still have a huge impact on a team and the culture within your department.
In this article, we will, therefore, look at seven management habits that can kill team morale. Recognizing these and ensuring you avoid the pitfalls can lead to a happier, more productive team and even boost employee retention.
How To Kill Team Morale – Micromanaging
Micromanaging your employees is one easy way to kill team morale. As a manager, you should not be too controlling. Show your employees that you trust them by delegating some tasks. If you’re everywhere, you’ll put too much pressure on the employees, and they will end up resenting your presence and constant review of their work. Ultimately this leads to a poorer outcome.
If you find that you have a tendency to micromanage staff don’t try and let go all at once. Instead, get more comfortable delegating tasks and responsibilities over time. As your trust in your staff grows and they successfully complete tasks you will find that you no longer need to manage everything to such a nuanced level.
How To Kill Team Morale – Not Providing Enough Management Guidance
Conversely, you can also kill team morale by not managing your team enough. This is the opposite of micromanaging and as you can probably already tell there is a fine balance that needs to be found to ensure that you provide enough management oversight without overcrowding your employees.
Team morale suffers when managers are absent from their work as the team loses focus, are unsure of the progress of key tasks and projects and don’t know how well they are performing. Some teams perform better than others with a flatter more hands-off management structure but that still doesn’t translate to no management oversight.
Find the balance that works for you and your team and you will see team morale and productivity increase.
How To Kill Team Morale – Provide A Lack of Clear Goals & Objectives
Another key way Managers can kill team morale is to provide a lack of clear goals or objectives to their team. Not knowing how you are being evaluated as an employee makes it hard to know where to focus your time and effort.
In addition, some managers have unclear expectations and end up confusing their team as a result. For example, a manager may clearly define the task but not provide sufficient guidance on the expected result. Therefore you don’t know whether this is something you should spend a week working on or just a day.
As a Manager, you, therefore, can’t expect the best performance from your team without a clearly articulated objective and metric against which the performance will be evaluated. For your employees that can also feel that they are being unfairly judged if you are displeased with the result provided given they didn’t have enough guidance to start with.
How To Kill Team Morale – Under Communicating
Closely linked with a failure to set clear goals or objectives is under communicating. Communication is essential in any organization that expects excellent performance. Under communication brings in a lot of confusion and at the results to poor performance. If you don’t give clear instructions and don’t explain points, your employees will feel demoralized.
In addition to providing clear instructions, the best managers also promote a collaborative environment where employees can seek clarification, share their own thoughts and ideas and contribute to the discussion around the task or objective of the team. Doing this makes the employee feel like they have “ownership” of the project or task, increasing the value they will see in completing the task to a high standard.
How To Kill Team Morale – Not Treating People Equally
Nobody likes it when a manager plays favorites. As a Manager you have an obligation to treat everyone equally and to evaluate them on the performance of their work, not whether you get on with them as a friend, come from the same background or have some other trait in common.
If employees in a team see others getting ahead because they are friendly with a manager this only builds resentment and a sense that one person is getting ahead at the expense of others.
The best managers know how to navigate workplace friendships without letting it crowd their judgment or come across as playing favorites with promotions, work assignments or other functions you are responsible for overseeing.
How To Kill Team Morale – Not Providing Enough Recognition
We are all human and we all like being congratulated for a job well done. While you don’t want to go overboard with your praise you want to ensure that you are aware of the tasks/projects your team are working on and provide praise when it is relevant and timely.
Depending on the type of project or level of effort they went to this praise doesn’t have to be a formal award. Simply letting an employee know that they did an awesome job can go along way. Where there has been a sustained effort or an employee has really gone above and beyond then having a more formal recongisition of their performance can be beneficial. For example some companies have monthly or quarterly award nominations that also provide a gift voucher or something else of value to the employee to thank them for their effort.
Without a process like this in place employees may be less likely to go the extra mile because they feel that any extra effort they put in a) won’t be recognised or b) rewarded.
How To Kill Team Morale – Not keeping promises
We all make promises every day in our lives. Not keeping these promises not only hurts friends and family in our personal lives but can also have a negative impact in the workplace with your team.
If you make a promise to an individual team or employee then as a Manager you are responsible for ensuring that promise is fulfilled. For example, if you promise to help a hire prepare their resume for an internal promotion then you need to hold yourself accountable for providing that guidance.
Some managers feel that the onus should be on the employee to follow up with them to ensure the task is done,b but this ignores that some employees are naturally quieter and/or feel that following up multiple times may be perceived as being rude.
With an understanding of the above you should now have a good awareness of what can kill team morale in your organization. While no manager will be perfect 100% of the time being aware of these pitfalls and holding yourself to a higher standard can contribute to a solid workplace culture and team environment that is optimized for success.