Minty Fresh Morale
Minty Fresh Morale
I don’t know about you but I’m concerned about bizarre and completely ridiculous strategies in order to improve company culture and morale in the workplace. Ranging from hugging at a certain well-known fashion house to instructing your employees to take a 45 minute walk during a teacher training day. On one occasion I had an enquiry from an HR Manager who didn’t seem to realise that countless staff social events in cocktail bars might not be a constructive way to harbour a professional dynamic.
It all strikes me as being a bit like ignoring your oral hygiene completely for the year and then desperately scrubbing your teeth 2 hours before you visit the dentist.
So here are four key strategies The Marvellous Training Co. uses in its group sessions to improve team morale and foster minty fresh company culture, especially if you give everyone licence to practise them, not just managers addressing to team members.
As the old adage goes: you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink, it’s also true with staff engagement in company policies and projects; you can tell them you welcome feedback and questions but actions speak louder than words and a consistent attitude of encouragement will do far more.
A broad ‘any questions?’ is essential during meetings just to see if people need clarifications but personal questions to people who are affected by or experienced with the topic can be a great way to precede opening the floor. “Angela, as one of the people directly affected by this change, can I ask your initial response to it?” followed by “Thanks for that, that’s really useful (or similar) any other thoughts from anyone else?” This allows for you to prioritise feedback from a crucial member of the team as well as show your positive attitude to other points of view in a public way. It may also be important to prep the person first, simply saying “this will affect you and your team, so I’m keen to know your thoughts,” prior to the meeting will also make them feel less like they’re being put on the spot.
Similar to a personal invitation, including someone in the discussion where everyone’s input is required is a great way to get people more involved collaboratively. “Graham’s idea sounds really good to me, does that work for you too, Stephanie?” A simple personal invite can prompt someone less engaged and remind them they’re valued and to share some responsibility for the project.
Open and Engaged attitude
It’s really easy to underestimate the time it takes for a group to process what you’ve said, formulate a response and also muster the courage to speak up in front of others. So be patient, count to ten in your head slowly, smile, use the moment to catch your breath and invite a post session email or chat if they prefer. When people are speaking, be mindful of your response; even if you don’t like what they’re saying be pleased they’re speaking up. Smile, eye contact, nodding all are really valuable nonverbal ways of encouraging people to express themselves.
Turn a ‘No’ into a “Thanks but not now”
If you’re reporting to others higher up in the organisation a really handy way to deal with a complaint is to validate, state intention and thank them. “Kevin I know that the thermostat has been an issue too, and I’ve fed back that to the other office. I’m really glad you’ve mentioned it again though because it gives me a good reason to chase them up about it. Bear with me and any news I learn I will pass on asap. Thanks.”
Or if you’re at the top of the chain my pocket response is “Thanks that’s a great idea. Currently I’m not in a position to explore that avenue but as soon as I am I’ll look into it, and I can let you know how it goes if you like too.” Either way we’re managing expectations and showing we value the input at the same time.
This is meant in too senses of the word:
- Praise great work and recognise it when you see it.
- Additionally give positive context to that work; it’s impact or its cohesion with wider aims and goals.
Praise can be real grey area; some people are so uncomfortable around direct praise the environment can be lost in banter and tongue-in-cheek jokes that while they can lighten the mood can devalue the really wonderful suff that’s going on. That isn’t to say that you can’t joke around if that’s part of your dynamic but take a moment to recognise and praise great work directly. “But seriously, Oscar, you’ve done an amazing job. Well done!” You can make someones day in just a few seconds.
Time and Place
Some people hate to be praised; especially in front of others. For whatever reason it makes their skin crawl, so while some of your more flamboyant staff relish in the glory of a standing ovation, a quiet word or a short email just to let them know you’ve seen their work and that you’re pleased with it.
Real Life Contexts
This idea is basically to develop the input from a discussion by suggesting ways it can work within a greater objective. “Wayne, your idea to reuse scrap paper for meeting minutes won’t just save some money it would also fit with our environmental agenda to create less waste.” or alternatively “Moving on from Jill’s really good idea about improving the food in the cantene, it’s prompted me to think about providing a couple of fitness sessions like yoga or kickboxing after work in the building. How do we feel about adding that too?” Especially as a leader, it can really help to show you can take your cues from others and create a collaborative team by speaking this way.
Much like encouragement endorsement can be a way to keep the momentum going for somebody who is trying out their self-expression and building their self esteem. Rather than saying directly to the person how good their ideas are or how welcome they are to share their ideas this is taking the next step by recognising their ideas to others.
Bring it Up Later
Your endorsement might not happen in the same session that the idea was in fact suggested. It may happen retrospectively at the beginning of a follow-up meeting or it in a conversation with someone who was unable to attend and if the person is present a small complimentary reference to what their contribution was could make their day.
Specific & Measurable
When dealing with people who feel self conscious, you can also try focussing on facts and statistics so they can appreciate their work in real terms: “Your idea to start work at 10 and finish at 6 has reduced absenteeism by 15% and saved us £1200, congratulations!” It’s much harder for someone to disagree or dismiss this kind of statement as just ‘being nice’ as the facts will do most of the talking for you.
Take it Forward
Endorsement is a great way as well to encourage people to self promote themselves too. Suggesting they share their ideas, or asking permission to share their input with others is a great way to show you value their idea Similarly telling them to use this as an example in a review or an interview situation is a great way endorsing their abilities.
Empowerment is a proactive way the challenging times at which people self sabotage. This can range from directly challenging someone’s overly critical self review, to giving them a role within the strategy that relates to there input. I think people often suffer from bouts of imposter syndrome and self-sabotage and I’m not sure that a simple blog article can sort out the problem directly.
Questions that Challenge
It’s so important not to go into a conversation to get them to agree with you but just to make a point of challenging and disagreeing with a negative statement when someone is too critical of themselves. To this end try these questions:
Would you say that about someone else?
I’m not sure I’d be comfortable if someone else here spoke like that way about you, would it be okay if they did in your opinion?
I couldn’t disagree more, I think your work was marvellous. Why do you feel like that?
I don’t think you’d speak to me like that, and I certainly wouldn’t speak to you that way either- why is okay for you to be so tough on yourself?
Give it Time
We can reinforce the empowerment by regularly saying simple things like “I’m so glad you’re part of this team.” This was something someone actually said to me when I joined a really diverse group of people and we all had different skills and strengths. It took me a while to realise I wasn’t there to be like anyone else, in fact I was there to be myself because no one else could do that! I have to stress this took time and I’m so glad my team leader was patient and just kept reinforcing the message until it sank in.
These Concepts are really simple but identifying them and being mindful of times when we can put them into practice make sure that they actually happened and they’re not just lip service to better company culture and team morale. During any session which I facilitate at the Marvelous training company, I will stop teams just to do a quick audit and you can do this too just perform a quick check at any point during a meeting or just during your working day and answer the following:
- Have I asked someone for their input or opinion and encouraged them to join in?
- Have I recognised great work and praised it directly?
- Have I reported good work to others?
- Have I challenged someone if they were being too harsh on themselves?
These four simple questions could be seen as daily or weekly targets full stop you could keep a tally on the number of times that you can say yes to them or it could just be a simple yes or no at the end of each day. Either way this is a really specific and measurable way of improving company morale, recognising Talent and encouraging open discussions.
Looking for more help and advice? Why not get in touch to find out how The Marvellous Training Co. can help you.