When you reflect on your career years from now, you won’t remember everything your bosses said or did, but you probably will remember how you felt while working for them.
As leaders, how we’re perceived is often developed through small, daily behaviors and decisions.
When the leaders of the NASBA Center for the Public Trust developed the Being a Difference Award, they were intentional about placing the emphasis on being a difference, rather than just making a difference. A boss who continuously disrespects his or her employees, then donates money to a charity has certainly made a difference, but is not actively being a difference on a consistent basis.
Below are five things leaders should do every day to boost the morale of their teams:
Learn Coworkers’ Names
When I began working my first professional internship, I was introduced to the CEO during the office tour. A few weeks later, I passed the CEO in the hallway, and he greeted me by name. It was a small gesture, but it totally made my day. I was shocked that the CEO remembered the name of a 19 year-old intern, especially after meeting me weeks ago. It made me feel more important and valued, even as a newly hired intern.
Talk with Your Team
This one sounds simple – and it is. But many leaders miss this opportunity. I, myself sometimes struggle with this as well. Although I say hello to everyone when I see them, sometimes I become so entrenched in my work that I don’t take time to get up from my desk, and intentionally seek out my fellow team members to see how they are doing. While this isn’t unethical, it is a missed leadership opportunity. Creating this type of disconnect may lead employees to believe they won’t be missed if they take a few days off or leave for another job.
Highlight the Value of Others
While thanking team members for a job well done is good, explaining how their contributions support the overall mission of the organization, helps employees understand the role they play in making the company successful. Remember that employees may be questioning their purpose at your organization. It is the leader’s job to help them realize their significance.
Utilize the Ideas of Others
Because their ideas often propelled them in their careers, leaders sometimes “over-trust” their own ideas and opinions. This behavior does not go unnoticed by coworkers. Creative and knowledgeable employees will eventually stop offering their input during meetings. When this happens, both leaders and organizations miss out on opportunities to advance the company.
Be Considerate of Others’ Time
Not only is it important to show up to work on time, but it is also important to show up to internal meetings on time as well. Although we’ve all been late some point, consistently arriving late to meetings sends a message to your employees that you believe your time is more valuable than theirs. Followers should not be held to higher standards than the leader. To avoid frustrating your team, consider proposing a new meeting time, so employees can continue working on other tasks until you are ready to meet.
As you develop and refine your leadership style, reflect on your past leaders. What did they do to make you feel good about coming to work? What could they have done to prevent you from moving on to your next job? Evaluating these types of behaviors will enhance your ability to boost morale and improve your organization’s culture over time.
Always remember, Leadership is a Lifestyle.
– Ryan W. Hirsch
Program Manager, NASBA Center for the Public Trust