Leadership Soapbox – Building Morale Part 1

How to build morale by showing you value your people


Hi, my name’s Neil Poynter, and welcome to this week’s episode of The Leadership Soapbox.

What I want to talk about this week is something called morale.

How do we get people to want to work for us, to really buy into what we’re doing, and to give much more of their available performance?

Now in about 2003, the Harvard Business Review brought out a piece of research that basically said that if you only pay people, the best level of performance you can hope for is about 70%.

Now, that kind of sounds okay, but actually that’s leaving nearly a third of their available performance on the table. So how do we get to that 70, 80, 90% level where we’re getting that proactive behavior?

We’re getting them spotting problems. We’re getting the creative solutions. We’re getting them to solve things before they even become a problem. When we’re really getting that buy-in and commitment to what we’re doing.

And why is that important now?

People are nervous, people are scared, and they’re scared at quite a deep level. They’re scared for their homes, they’re scared for their jobs. And that attacks our motivation at a very deep level.

If I went into Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we’re into level two and three. Now, how do we reaffirm this? Okay, so let’s look at this.

Now I’m suspecting I’m going to break this video into three parts, or this into a three-part video series. And I’m going to use a model that’s a few years old and it’s attributable to a guy called Bill Slim. I’ll tell you more about him in the final video, but he said that we need to engage people’s needs. And there are three levels of need. There’s an emotional need, there’s an intellectual need, and there’s a physical need.

Now we need to engage those in order. So first of all, how do I engage someone emotionally?

Well, it’s about them feeling that they’re wanted, and that they are valuable and that they are involved in something that is useful and good. How do we do that?

One, we need a goal. We need a clear goal that they can buy into, that they can see as of value, and also that there is a hierarchy of goals. So there’s an organizational goal, there’s a department goal, there’s a project or team goal. But they can see how, what they are doing, what they are involved in, links in all the way up the chain to what the overall purpose of the organization is and how it helps. Because if it doesn’t, why am I doing it? So we need to answer that one first.

So we’ve got a goal. Second, there’s a plan and it’s not just a plan, it’s an active plan that goes out to solve this problem, to meet this need, to really get on top of it and they can see how it’s going to work.

So two, an active plan that meets the goal, that ties in with the organizational goal. Okay, getting this?

Now the final bit, and this is where I think the real magic is in this, because I’ve seen it really work. And it’s then saying to that person, that individual, this is your role and why it’s important in whatever it is we’re doing. And it’s directly saying to them, you’re important, you do good work. This is important that you’re doing this.

So my question to you here is when was the last time you told people they were important?

And I don’t mean as a group, I mean, individually and said, this is why your job is important to this organization, this is what you contribute. Now that goes into people’s motivation at such a high level. If we’re talking Maslow, we’re talking level four, self-beliefs you know, it’s really, really important, but this is also about them seeing that they are part of the overall goal, they can see what they contribute.

And it’s so important to people. Now, I’m just checking the time. I’m going to have a story, which is going to take me about a minute, so stay with me. I saw this put into practice by a manager who saw a 40% change, improvement in absenteeism and sickness in her department in a month, simply by telling people, that they were of value and what they contributed. Now it doesn’t really matter what organization that was. But let me just say that that contributed totally to the bottom line.

40% just by people knowing they were important and valued. Now you might think people should know they’re valued by how much you pay them. No, they don’t. Believe me that just disappears. You got to show them they’re important and tell them they’re important and let them see they’re important by how they contribute into these plans, into these goals. That’s when they know they’re part of something.

Now that right now is going to really help people that they know they’re valued. So that’s part one, goal, plan, individual role. That’s engaging them emotionally. That’s their emotional needs about them being important in the organization and of value.

Come back and join me on video two, which will be out soon, and I’ll put a link after this and we’ll talk about the next one, which is engaging them intellectually, and their intellectual needs.

If you liked this, please like it, hit the like button, share it with people or and, please get on the email to me, let’s have a conversation about this, about how this can work in your organization. And here’s the question. Remember, when was the last time you told your people they were important?

Thanks very much. I’ll see you on the next video.