In an organization, team morale points to the level of optimism and excitement colleagues have while working together. Good team morale helps departments work more efficiently, align on goals, and connect in meaningful ways.
When creating a team, you are bringing different personalities and work styles together. So, good team morale isn’t something that will happen organically – often, it needs effort from all members of the team. Creating good team morale starts with clear communication, mutual respect, and trust.
Why Team Morale is Important
The overall team morale starts at an individual level. Research shows that happy and engaged employees perform better. A supportive and enthusiastic team is a key factor in employee happiness.
In one study, a meta-analysis of 259 job satisfaction studies analyzed how our social connections at work shape our job satisfaction. This study found that a culture of social support among colleagues had a positive correlation with job satisfaction.
Most employees work with the same team of people every day. Many employees rarely, if ever, work with anyone outside of their team or department. This makes building a supportive team environment even more valuable. When people are happy on their teams, they’re more likely satisfied with their role overall.
Factors in Creating Positive Team Morale
Figuring out how to boost morale in a team of employees can be difficult. Teams are comprised of individuals who may have varying opinions and pain points in their roles.
However, there are some overarching issues that can bring down team morale overall. The more leaders can resolve the larger issues affecting their teams, the better morale will become. Sometimes these will be company-wide changes, other times, it will mean changing the way team members handle specific situations.
There are several factors that contribute to positive team morale regardless of the industry or team dynamics.
Energizing Company Culture
The overall company culture trickles down into each team and each employee. That’s why a company that has a stronger company culture will reap the benefits of better team morale. Company culture can mean a lot of things, however.
Company cultures that promote hustling, long days, quick turnarounds, and overtime do exist. Companies with this kind of culture will not benefit from it in the long run. In a culture where the only thing that is truly rewarded is overworking oneself, teams will quickly become burnt out by the pressure.
A company culture that will produce better team morale would be one that promotes open communication, transparency, and mutual respect among colleagues.
A team is as good as its leader. If there is frequent turnover in management, teams will feel disengaged and unmotivated. It is hard to keep consistent goals and tasks in line when a team is constantly having to adjust to a new manager.
Employees look to their management for guidance, clarity, and direction. When that manager is frequently changing, the team always suffers. In these cases, teams may try to self-manage, delegating tasks and other managerial work alongside their actual job roles.
Not only can this be stressful, but it can also cause huge disagreements among teams. When there is no leader to guide the team toward the right solution, teams may find themselves in endless bickering and resentment. Without a consistent and stable manager, team morale suffers greatly.
Conversely, on a team where the manager is stable and well-respected, team morale will be positively impacted. When all members of the team feel they have a resource to guide them, it leads to fewer headaches and more productivity.
Managers who can communicate expectations and goals clearly to their teams allow their employees to do better work. Plus, transparent communication goes a long way in earning employees’ trust.
It’s a manager’s job to foster the culture of their specific team. Although it’s a big task, it’s an advantage for managers who do it correctly.
A good manager will recognize the value in employee happiness and put great effort into nurturing their team morale.
A Culture of Respect
For teams to work together efficiently, a culture of mutual respect needs to be established. Team members will not feel comfortable working together if they feel other members are disrespectful.
A culture where mutual respect and tolerant behavior are required between colleagues makes for a better team environment. On a team where employees fear being judged or ridiculed by their colleagues for sharing ideas, many employees will disengage from their teams.
In a team culture where members are encouraged to share their ideas, free of judgment, team morale is boosted. Plus, teams who can effectively communicate with each other come to more creative solutions and work more efficiently toward goals.
Steps to Boost Team Morale
If your team needs a morale boost, you might not know where to start. It’s always good to get a pulse on the team’s thoughts first. Leaders can send out an anonymous survey asking employees about their current job satisfaction.
This can often help managers see their blind spots and identify areas for improvement within the team. There are several tactics managers can use to begin fostering a better culture among their teams. Even if your team morale is already doing well, it never hurts to make it better. You can never have too good of a team!
Set Exciting and Fun Team Goals
Having a unified purpose brings teams together and facilitates better morale. On some level, every team has some sort of shared goal they are working toward. Whether it’s project goals, metrics, or department-wide deliverables it’s likely your team has a shared goal on any given day.
However, these goals can go on the back burner when juggling day-to-day tasks and concerns. Teams who aren’t motivated to keep pushing towards their goals may prioritize the wrong things. So, draw attention to your shared goal whenever possible.
Ideally, you can do this in a fun way. Set smaller, more attainable goals leading up to the final goal. For example, a manager could set a goal for 50% of the project to be done by a certain date. If the team hits that deadline, let them pick something to celebrate it, it could be a free lunch or leaving early on a Friday.
By identifying smaller goals that the team will reach along the way, managers can help employees stay engaged. Your team can participate in all sorts of silly goal-setting, too. Fun contests like who can funniest online meme of the day, can be a lighthearted way to bring employees a new appreciation for their team.
Don’t Fear Frustrations
Even in teams with outstanding morale, there will be moments of frustration. In moments of low morale, many managers may ride out the storm and hope it passes soon. However, when your team is facing issues, it’s important to use them to your advantage.
Instead of pushing through rough patches, use them as educational tools. It’s a great time to ask the team for feedback and gather knowledge on what is causing the frustration. It shows employees that their manager cares and helps the manager see things from the employee’s perspective.
Honor Your Team’s Personal Lives
Managers may be so enthusiastic about their team’s work that they forget their team has outside commitments.
A manager may schedule impromptu meetings about exciting project updates, without thinking of how the employee’s personal agendas will suffer. Often, managers are not intentionally trying to upend their team’s personal lives but end up doing so.
To create better team morale, managers need to honor employees’ work-life balance. Managers should get to know their team members on an individual basis. For example, if you have an employee who must pick up their child every day at 5 PM, you’ll want to respect that boundary.
By getting to know team members’ personal commitments, managers can better tailor scheduling preferences. It’s impossible to make everyone happy, but managers can do their best to honor employee commitments whenever possible.
When team members’ personal lives are considered and valued, team morale will be higher. More free time, unobstructed by work, allows employees to rejuvenate so they can come back to work ready to focus.
Your team’s morale impacts every project your team takes on. The better the morale, the more easily teams will communicate, leading to more efficient work. Plus, improving morale helps reduce burnout and turnover.
Ensuring your team is enthusiastic about the work they do is vital to your team’s success. So, invest time and energy into ensuring an exceptional culture within your team. The company will benefit from it!