Leadership Soapbox – Building Morale Part 3

How to build morale by treating everyone fairly


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

This one is part three of my series about engagement and morale and how we build these. Now, I’m talking about this again, in a time with COVID, it’s on the rise again. This is so important what we are talking about here.

People are feeling threatened. They’re feeling endangered at a level. And what we can do as leaders to reassure them and make them feel good about what they’re doing and what they’re involved in is critical right now.

So, just as a quick reminder, in video one and two, we talked about the emotional and the intellectual engagement.

Emotional was about there being a clear goal and aim, a plan, and then people being clear about what their role is in the plan.

The intellectual part was that they could believe and look at the plan and go, “Yeah, that’s possible,” even at a stretch. But they look at the organization they’re in, and they go, “Yeah, I think we can do this.” And thirdly, they look at the leadership and go, “Yeah, they’re competent, “and I believe they’re capable of delivering this.”

So, now we come on to the third part, which is the physical or material. Do they have what they need, want, desire, what creates that need, for them to be able to do the job?

Now again, there’s three parts to this in the model.

First of all, fair treatment.

They’re treated fairly, salaries, discipline, you know, poor performance, you know, rules. Do rules apply equally to all? Now, here’s one, a contentious issue to think about, isn’t it? Are we as leaders held to the same level or are we held to a higher level of behavior? Do we need to be seen to be following the rules? An interesting thought in the current climate, and in particular, with you know in the U.K., we’ve had examples of perhaps this thinking. So, fair treatment, people are treated fair and they know they’re going be treated fairly.

Secondly, best tools for the job.

We give them what they need to be able to carry out the work. Where possible, they get exactly what’s needed, and it’s as good as possible.

Thirdly, working conditions are as good as possible.

We look after them. We make sure that they work in comfort, that they have reasonable conditions. And they should be as good as possible. If people feel we’re penny pinching or well, we don’t really need that. How important do they feel to us? Now remember, this is about giving an impression about how important they are. Now, it’s got to be authentic. So, this is what I say, and I linked this back to what I said yesterday in my video about compassion, we need to genuinely care about our people. And this is where we show it, fair treatment, right tools for the job, good working conditions, and we genuinely care about looking after them.

So, where does this model come from? Now, in the first video, I talked about a gentleman called Bill Slim. Well, let me now give you his proper title, Field Marshal Viscount Slim and his book, Defeat into Victory. If you want a classic of leadership, this is one to read.

Now, he wrote this model of morale in 1942, on his own in his notebook. I won’t go into the full story now, but I want to bring out is the fact that he lived the rules himself. And I’ll give you an example.

He was commanding the army in the jungle, many thousands of people, and one of things he used to do was that he would have to put whole units onto half rations for a period of time. If any of his units went onto half rations, so did his headquarters, including himself. Any of his units. So, it wouldn’t always be the same unit, obviously. And perhaps you’d have one go onto half rations and then another. His headquarters was on half rations the whole time. He could not countenance giving that order and then not living with it himself.

Now, you talk about fair treatment, you talk about being seen to be being fair. That’s what I think leadership is about. It’s a great example of living it.

Bill Slim is revered in the British Army as being one of its greatest ever leaders, and there’s very good reason.

So, my question to you is what are you doing now in this current climate to build engagement and morale with your people?

This is a critical subject. If you’ve got any questions, the email is neil@neilpoynter.com If you’d like to have a conversation about this, what are you doing? Let’s share this. What are we doing?

What practices are out there that people are doing right now to build morale and engagement with their teams in this critical time? It’d be great to find out.

Thank you for watching and I’ll be back soon.

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