Monday, September 5, 2011

How Managers Create Low Morale In Their Employees

Everyone knows that the sports team with the highest morale wins. In fact, every manager wants high morale in his or her group. So why do most managers create low morale in their employees?

But given the societal, educational and workplace related influences, it would be amazing if managers did not create low morale and severely damage employee motivation.

From birth, most of us are told what to do. We receive a rather overwhelming number of orders, directions and policies from those who believe we should follow their dictates; parents, teachers, churches, government and finally bosses in the workplace.

This is commonly referred to as the top-down command and control management model. Having been literally bombarded with this model, it is unsurprising that the vast majority of managers adopt it as their own.

But what of the people being managed with this model? Unfortunately for managers, no one likes to take orders and all consider it to be demeaning, degrading and disrespectful. This teaches and leads employees to disrespect their customers, their work, each other and bosses.

In addition, employees also feel demeaned and degraded if no one listens carefully to their ideas and whatever else they have to say. Every human has a need to be able to put in their two cents and are turned off if not able to do so.

But the command and control model implies that employees should listen to the leaders and that leaders have no need to listen to employees. So managers spend most of their time trying to figure out their next order, goal or target and rarely if ever take the time to really listen to their people.

And there are more negative effects on morale and workforce motivation associated with the command and control model, specifically from not listening to employees and not dialoguing with them over workplace problems. Without continuous input for lower level personnel, managers are denied the only available firsthand view of problems from those living with them up close and personal every day.

Without these facts, orders and directives from managers rarely address the real problems and more often exacerbate them. This leads employees to distrust and disrespect management and causes further reductions of morale and workforce motivation.

And there’s more. Failure to listen and dialog over perceived problems denies employees information which only the manager has and which is necessary to being able to understand the true cause of problems or the seriousness of them. Lacking this information, employee expectations and criticisms are quite often unrealistic, thus causing the manager to disrespect employees.

Thus, low workforce morale, poorly motivated employees and greatly reduced employee performance quite naturally result from using an authoritarian based command and control model.

Our educational system is of little help. It is excellent at teaching management of “things” like engineering, marketing, finances, supply chain, and quality, but it rarely teaches the soft skills, the whats, whys and how-tos of managing people. In addition, the tools learned for managing “things” actually reinforce the authoritarian, “just do as I say,” approach to managing people.

As a manager, I spent 12 years stuck in this model, stuck with much lower morale and performance than I believed was possible. Fortunately, life provided me with two revelations which allowed me to transform my methods and subsequently prove that a level of employee morale and performance far beyond my wildest dreams can be achieved.

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