You may have thought of the look in Clint Eastwood’s eyes when he delivered his famous line as Harry Callahan in “Sudden Impact.” Interesting he was getting ready to have a morning cup of coffee when he discovers a robbery in the diner. When harm is threatened to one of the employees, instead of backing off, Harry steps up and confronts the situation. Through clenched teeth with a rough grumble he delivers the now infamous line “Go ahead, make my day.” Harry is trying to clean things up, make the bad better and help those who need him.
Though Harry was able to make a huge impact alone, we know it takes contributing efforts from everyone to result in success. So what does this stroll down cinematic lane have to do with your organization? Employees often feel out of control of situations at work and want to have someone step up and make their day, with lasting positive impact. The leaders of the organization can make their day or break their day. Managers and supervisors have an immeasurable impact on employee motivation and morale. Words, body language and facial expressions as the manager or leader, telegraph their opinion of the employees’ value to the organization.
If employees feel valued – they like their work – their morale goes up – productivity increases – the business becomes more successful – the employer can offer competitive pay and opportunities for growth – employees engage and motivation becomes catching – thus they feel valued and the cycle gains momentum and flourishes.
Building employee motivation and morale is challenging and yet can be simple. Focusing on the needs of employees and understanding a leader’s impact on life at work can not only make their day, but it can make yours! Here are a few suggestions:
- Start the Day Right . Smile. Walk with confidence. Greet employees in their work areas. Share information over a cup of coffee. Listen to ideas and concerns. Let employees know it is going to be a good day. You set the tone.
- Show Appreciation with Powerful but Simple Words. Please. Thank You. You are doing a great job. I appreciate your working over the weekend. Thanks for always being on time. Success begins with how you approach people. Motivational words leave people feeling valued. Spend positive interaction time with employees.
- Set Expectations and Provide Feedback. Communicate your expectations. Let employees know how they are performing. Timely feedback is critical. Acknowledge positive outcomes. Work with employees to understand what expectations were not met and how they can produce a positive outcome the next time. Use encouragement and reassurance when appropriate. Follow up.
- Reward the Behavior. Reward and recognize positive contributions, both publicly and privately. Treat employees fairly. When performance goals are not met, administer progressive discipline. Address problems. Highly motivated and top-contributing employee morale counts on management’s consistency.
- End the Day Right. Be visible. Tell them to have a good evening. If you ask how the day progressed, be prepared to listen and take action if needed. Check with the supervisor. What actions could help make his/her shift better. Go home with reflection. Return positive.
When organizations ask their employees about what they need and want from work they are often surprised to find out how inexpensive it can be to fulfill those needs and wants, and to create an environment of committed employees working toward a common goal. If you have any questions about motivating employees, contact CAI’s Advice and Resolution team to help you solve real-life workplace problems.
CAI Advice & Resolution team member Renee Watkins is a seasoned HR professional with a diverse background in Human Resource. Renee provides CAI members with practical advice in a wide-range of human resource functions including conflict resolution, compliance and regulatory issues, and employee relations.