I spent the last few days of my vacation with the last few days of a relative in a hospice home. The home was a lovely and peaceful setting for its guests and visitors. All except for the neighboring building next door. I was enraged the first time I heard how loud they were. Don’t they know that people are grieving over here? How dare they. The noisy white Montessori school was within earshot of the hospice home and only a few yards away. The children laughed and screamed loudly without a single piece of quiet respect as they swallowed up the playground in a melee of activity. Couldn’t the teaching staff show some courtesy by at least trying to keep the noise down?
I was curious at how all the windows and doors of the hospice home were propped open, especially those that were facing the Montessori school. And then I saw that even some guests were sitting outside of their rooms, quietly listening to the playful children.
And then I realized what was going on. The playful sounds emanating from next door were not damaging but nurturing. Either through divine intervention or bad zoning, the relationship between these two facilities grew into a balance of healing and harmony, with the Montessori school doling out generous doses of energy and power to the guests in the hospice home.
We all affect each other in our relationships, even at work. Each day you bring with you to work a potential to affect other people. You bring the potential to create a synergistic and symbiotic harmony, whether you know it or not. As a leader, you need to concern yourself with how you affect others. Sometimes the things that you say or do to your co-workers moves them in a less than obvious manner. You may not even realize it, but your influence has power.
Recently I was chatting with a candidate who wanted to leave her firm. She told me how the group leader rarely said positive comments to his subordinate attorneys, but when he did it was only in private in his office. The time that he spent in the office was spent complaining about his fellow lawyers, publicly bringing attention to their faults in front of their peers. She was devastated, humiliated, and demoralized. “He never knew how much he influenced all of us, and never understood how damaging his influence was. And now he wonders why morale is so bad over there.”
If you supervise or manage even one or two co-workers, then you have been given a heavy responsibility, and the responsibility for the morale of this team sits squarely on your shoulders. Here are three ways to develop positive feelings and improve the mood and morale of your staff.
1) Catch people doing something right and bring it to their attention. It can be a spontaneous and verbal recognition of their effort, or you can do it through an annual awards banquet or a quarterly function that recognizes performance and achievement. Either way, you can harness the power of social influence to shape the premises of what is accepted as strong performance. If your organization has the ability, put these awards and stories in a newsletter or podcast format to distribute to employees. Interview or make recordings of these team members who have earned the recognition because of their performance speak for themselves, sharing what they did to receive the award. This doubles as a training moment, and also inspires co-workers to stretch beyond their reach.
2) Keep a positive and optimistic outlook. Your mood is the thermostat of the team’s attitude, and everyone looks to you to see how you to gauge it. If you face a grave circumstance within your company, stay encouraging and offer hope with empathy to your colleagues and co-workers. Hope always exists in everything. It’s up to you to find that hope and share it with everyone else.
3) Understand how much power your influence really carries. An arrogant rolling of the eyes, a careless word, and a rude remark can point your team in the direction of apathy. Each contact that you have with a member of your team will either add to or take away from the interdependent nature of your relationship.
The entire culture of your organization can be shaped and molded through the power of your influence that you wield as a leader. Take care to influence it in a positive manner.