“You have lost your subject when you have lost his inclination; you are to preside over the minds, not the bodies of men. The soul is the essence of a man; and you cannot have the true man against his inclination.”
— Sir Walter Raleigh.
Check your project. Does your staff exhibit the characteristics of high morale?
1. You do not encounter small groups of people who scatter furtively when approached.
2. Lateness and absenteeism do not interfere with the organizational program.
3. Better qualified people fill vacant positions.
4. The informal social network quickly absorbs new recruits.
5. Decisions to hire, fire, promote or demote are usually unanimous among those consulted.
6. Dismissals and demotions are rare.
7. Supervisors are well acquainted with their staff and vice versa.
8. The distribution of pay and privileges is taken for granted.
9. Organizational ceremonies are well attended.
10. You are seldom called upon by subordinates to help maintain their authority.
11. Staff who get involved in organizational conflicts are apologetic, not complacent.
12. Both parties welcome you in conflict situations. Yet, morale shouldn’t be confused with happiness. If your organization subscribes to the above-mentioned high morale factors, they accept the goals, obey rules and participate in organizational life. Consider the following morale-building factors…
REWARD AND PUNISHMENT
Rewards such as pay, prestige and privileges directly affect morale. The puzzle is to reward the most productive staff, without lowering the morale of others. After all, it’s the employees’ conception of justice that determines whether a group’s reward system works. The individual’s expectations determine whether they perceive treatment to be just or unjust. For this reason, consider the following guidelines for creating a just system of reward and punishment:
There must be ample respect for the equality of peer equals. In cases where the equal treatment of equals presents a logistics problem – as in the case of a limited number of free tickets to the ball game – the allocation should be made by chance. Lots may be drawn or a decision can be arrived at through rotation.
Avoid paying supervisors less than their subordinates. Such incongruities reduce morale.
Promises made must be promises kept. The wise manager will spell out a promise for promotion in writing or at the very least in front of a witness. The performance of a promise should be as meticulously carried out – no more and no less than was originally discussed.
Every manager should observe due process. No accusation or claim against an employee should ever be acted upon without hearing the employee’s side of the story, allowing him or her to examine the evidence and to obtain evidence on their own behalf.
AVOID STAFF RATING BLUNDERS
Unfortunately, errors in evaluation do occur with disturbing regularity and consequences. Common causes include:
The illusion of consistency – Individuals who have an unblemished track record one year are automatically assumed to have displayed similar performance the following year.
Masking an individual’s performance – In teamwork situations, individual contributions become difficult to measure.
Masking of individual performance by intermediate supervisors – Intermediate supervisors may be driven to inaccurately report the conduct of subordinates for two reasons:
(a) An individual with an outstanding track record may be lost by promotion or transfer, or may steal some of the credit due to the supervisor.
(b) A poorly performing individual may not be accurately reported by his superior for fear of repercussions of inadequate supervision.
Defects of rating systems – Supervisors tend to give higher ratings to more compliant subordinates. To avoid this bias, encourage the individual’s peers and subordinates to submit performance ratings as well.
Invisible performances – Most intricate organizational programs include several activities not visible from the top, and some activities only visible to those individuals directly involved in them. Managers should not assume that no news is good news. Solid information should be collected concerning the performance of an activity for which a manager is responsible.
DEVELOP YOUR STAFF
Proper training of recruits encompasses not only the acquisition of specific skills. Also required are new images, social relationships and moral values. The importance of proper training is often overlooked. As a result, recruits leave soon after joining. The manager who wishes to make a dramatic improvement in organizational effectiveness should consider initiating a strong training program. The actual training program should be structured in an unrushed manner in order to gain maximum benefits.
Organizational conflict leaves scars in more places than solely on those individuals directly involved with the conflict. When conflicts reach the stage of one party trying to destroy the other, it’s too late for the manager to salvage much of anything. If the manager plays the role of judge in a conflict, he or she will probably get little thanks from the winning party, while the losing party will attribute the manager’s decision to bias or stupidity. If a manager works hard at isolating any developing problem before it reaches a conflict stage, success will be easier to attain.