Workplace Morale: Accentuate The Positive!

-Managers have changed focus from growth to cutting costs. Businesses have shifted from experimentation to core practices. And employees are hanging on for dear life.

Corporate management is cast in the villain role once again, thanks to the recession, soaring unemployment, and boardroom skullduggery. A little more than three years ago, a Newsweek cover story asked, "Why is Everyone Getting Rich Except Me?" Bravado fueled the nation´s economy. The tables have turned - today´s economy seems driven by fear of losing the gains of the past decade.

Managers have changed focus from growth to cutting costs. Businesses have shifted from experimentation to core practices. And employees are hanging on for dear life.

This environment challenges managers to convince their employees that they have a safe and secure work environment - and therein lies a trap. Although safety and security are important, fear of taking risks might be the biggest risk of all. Three years ago everybody wanted to share their great ideas. Today everybody seems to be afraid of saying something stupid.

Use these guidelines to sell your employees on a positive workplace environment:

1. Acknowledge the fear. Explain that change is inevitable and impacts everyone. Instead of asking them to change, emphasize the challenges they face.

2. Focus on growth. Stress that maintaining job security requires a company that´s healthy and vigorous, with strong employee and customer relationships - and a positive cash flow.

3. Accentuate the positive. Speak in terms of challenges and opportunities, rather than problems and solutions.

4. Keep communicating. The president of the company might start every Monday morning with a five-minute State of the Union message to all employees. There isn´t a professional coach who doesn´t communicate with the entire team at least once a week. Remember, both management and employees are communicating all the time. Don´t let informal information sources (such as rumor mills and "telephone tag" reporting) supplant regular channels of communication.

5. Market to your employees. Most companies use ads, brochures, messages, and slogans to communicate with clients and prospects. Consider these valuable tools when you´re "selling" your employees. Remember, a picture can be worth a thousand words.

6. Let employees know what´s exciting about your company. Share success stories. List new customers and clients.

7. Accentuate the personal. Even though "no amount of happiness can buy money," cash is only one motivator. Once people receive a fair day´s wage, they´ll greatly appreciate your interest in their personal affairs and your recognition of their workmanship and achievement.

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