There’s a big difference between working within a group of people and being a team.
The former does not have a bond, there’s friction, people often complain, and performance plummets when facing a hard time. The latter shows extreme flexibility, rarely complains, shares the burden, and is optimistic most of the time.
One of the most important differences between the two groups is their morale. It’s the attitude towards work goals, the excitement people feel during work hours, and the teamwork they show during hard times.
Team morale one of the most common factors differentiating between success and failure. Here are some of thoughts on what might increase or decrease it.
Be open and transparent
Often when your company gets bigger, so does the hierarchy inside it. You might have managers of managers of team leaders, and so forth. The more complex your hierarchy is, the worse your communication becomes.
Team members communicate with their closest peers and leaders. So important company information gets lost when shared top-to-bottom. Each step modifies the original statement by either leaving something out or mangling it. We call it “the broken phone.”
If you make decisions that affect others, share them immediately. A great example is the story of an American retail store. When the great recession in early 2000 started, they had trouble paying their employees. They immediately send a letter to everyone, explaining the challenging situation. They asked the employees if they were okay with cutting down benefits, taking as much unpaid leave as possible, and hoping for the best.
Employees felt part of the problem and joined forces. They used close connections with vendors to ask for delaying payments; they made a schedule for unpaid leaves, so everyone shared the burden. Not only did the company survive, but it was also the only retail one that increased its revenue during this period. The employee resignation rate dropped down immensely, and everyone felt happier.
Regardless of your position and role, make sure you frequently share as much as you can with people around you. Be open and honest.
Share your failures
We are all human creatures, and we hate to make mistakes – we don’t want others to dislike us. Though the sad truth is – we’re imperfect, and all of us make mistakes.
In most cultures, talking about your own mistakes feels like exposing yourself to the world and how bad you perform. But many studies have shown that it even works quite the opposite! Doing so will create a psychologically safe environment where people feel safe to open up. They can be themselves and not pretend they’re perfect.
Talking about failures leads to stronger teams, higher team morale, and as a result – increased performance and decreased error rate!
Mining companies worldwide have shown that discussing what went wrong during a shift helps improve safety and decrease incidents. On the contrary, being unable to share your failures has led teams to fail to deliver high-quality products and get suspended. Bridgewater, one of the biggest hedge funds globally, goes even one step closer. They record all their meetings and are required to share anyone’s failure publicly. That led to an extreme boost in performance and an immense amount of clients.
Sharing the outcomes of anyone’s actions is crucial for team morale. Communicate often, be honest, and don’t pretend you’re flawless.
Leadership affects team morale
In the book “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win” by Jocko Willink the power of leading is extremely evident. He described how Navy SEALs in training with a boat perform with different leaders. They split people into groups, and each group must go through an obstacle course, always carrying their boat. The losers do an extra lap. The training goes on for a few straight days.
There was a prominent loser’s boat, and they always argued and blamed each other. The morale was low. The officers swapped the winning and the losing boats’ leaders at some point. The rest of the crew were still the same.
Amazingly enough, the loser’s boat started performing better. Even though exhausted from all the extra laps, they pushed harder!
People started acting together. Participants felt stronger, relied on each other, made fewer mistakes, and didn’t complain. Their morale was up, and they endured the harsh course. They didn’t last anymore and even competed with the winner’s boat.
This story highlights how leadership is not only crucial for making decisions but also for caring about team morale. Which, in return, results in happier and motivated people, less drama, and better results.
Be careful and present when leading people. Your emotions, actions, and reactions affect the team spirit.
Each member’s voice must be heard
We’ve often seen how new team members or junior ones remain utterly silent during team meetings. They have a hard time expressing an opinion because they’re afraid they might be either wrong or the idea is worthless.
Numerous studies and stories have shown that listening to the voice of everyone inside the team helps. It gives you a different perspective and can lead to shocking revelations. It’s not uncommon for a newcomer to see a problem no one else has seen before. Or, because of lack of experience, present a solution a few times simpler than the present one.
Most importantly, it makes people feel part of the group. It bonds them and makes them eager to help each other. Of course, the one responsible for making decisions has the final saying. But don’t miss the opportunity to let everyone express themselves.
Increase your team morale and make it your highest priority. Regardless of your position and role! It is defined by the feelings of each and every member. Make sure you do your best to always stay positive, optimistic, honest, and friendly.