Like a nasty virus, bad attitudes replicate rapidly, spreading contagion wherever they go. And though rarely fatal, they're a definite drag on productivity, distracting people from the task at hand and casting a pall over your operations.
How do you ward off this plague? You can't keep all of your people happy all of the time, of course. But there are some common-sense steps you can take to boost morale and make your own job easier at the same time. Sound far-fetched? Consider the following:
1. People who are happy in their jobs look forward to coming to work each day. That means you can count on them to show up regularly and show up on time. Regular attendance on their part frees you up to tackle more important tasks than calling around for someone to take an extra shift.
2. Happy employees work harder and work longer than malcontents. Happy, committed employees derive personal satisfaction from seeing how their efforts contribute to the success of their department and even the company as a whole. Kept happy, they will produce more and do it with a better attitude, making you look good.
3. Happy staff members work to the best of their ability more of the time than others. They push themselves harder to do better. It's important to help them do their best. They don't need to be threatened. They don't need to be cajoled. Happy workers perform because they want to.
4. Sooner or later you'll need your people's help to stave off some kind of work-related crisis. Happy employees are likely to pull together to work for the greater good, volunteering to help for no other reward than the satisfaction of being a part of the solution.Within reason, happy staffers will be more than willing to go that extra mile.
Clearly, it's worth your while to make your people happy. But how do you do that? Towers Perrin surveyed 35,000 employees in April 2003 to find out what they liked and didn't like about their work environments. We analyzed the data and came up with the following three keys to employee satisfaction:
1. Good communication. By now you've figured out that there are no secrets in business. You may think you're the soul of discretion holding meetings behind closed doors. But don't kid yourself: Though your staff members may not know the details, they know something's amiss. And whatever they're imagining is worse than whatever's really going on. So tell them the truth. They will appreciate being brought into the loop. And then keep them informed. Let them know how their efforts are contributing to the department's success. Help them understand the role they play in achieving the company's overall goals and objectives.
2. Interactive management. When it comes to formulating policies and procedures that directly affect them, give your people the opportunity to provide input and feedback. They may come up with great ideas that you might have overlooked. Whenever possible, give them the authority to make decisions. Allow your staff to be involved in their own careers. Don't leave them feeling powerless or totally controlled by you or the company.
3. Challenges and accomplishments. Provide your staff with challenges to get them to stretch and motivate themselves. Make certain these are attainable, realistic challenges (ones your staff can meet with a little extra work and innovation), and when they hit the mark, reward them. Don't take these accomplishments for granted. Celebrate them and there will be more to celebrate.