The subject of improving company morale is something that needs to be faced, from time to time, even within excellent organisations. The reasons for flagging morale can be quite complex: companies differ enormously in terms of size and structure. But the answer is simple enough, at least to understand, if not to accomplish. What really needs to happen is for individuals to realign around their individual goals and recommit themselves to the company’s mission.
If the company does not have a proper mission statement, then now – at the time of flagging company morale – is a great time to create one. But in doing so, we don’t want to repeat the mistakes of those organisations that completed the exercise simply for public relations purposes. We need to deeply examine what we stand for, be clear about why the company exists and what we are trying to achieve at the highest level. That is the kind of deliberation which can lead to the crafting of a mission statement that can be used to lift spirits and rally the troops.
A mission statement should not be a glib but meaningless declaration placed within a frame behind the reception desk to impress visiting bigwigs. It should be a living and meaningful declaration of intent; a reference point to which to revert in times of crisis. A well-crafted mission statement allows us to check what we are fundamentally trying to achieve; it provides the perspective we need to adjust, in whatever way necessary, in order for us to emerge from adversity even stronger than we were before it struck.
So, if you already have a company mission statement, at these times of low ebb, you should read it and ask yourself if it is really serving the organisation. I wrote previously about the characteristics of great mission statements and provided a few good sample mission statements that you might like to check out. However, use the following as your little checklist when evaluating your company’s statement.
Great Mission Statements Are:
• Forward Looking
• A True Statement of Intent
• Something That People Care About
If your mission statement genuinely has the above characteristics, then that is excellent. If you can truly say that your company stands for something that people care about, then you have the perfect tool for lifting staff morale. In that situation, it might be the case that many of your employees actually joined the company for that very reason.
If however, your company does not have a mission statement or it does not have one that conforms to those characteristics, you might be surprised at just how rewarding and productive, for everyone involved, that creating your guiding vision can be. It can truly be the catalyst for a time of rebirth when the organisation can rise phoenix-like from the ashes of past failure and realign itself around what is really important.
If you can get people to see how they will play their part in creating this new future, you will be well on the way to seeing significant improvements. Remember that, essentially, most people do not come to work for money – not primarily, that is. Of course, money is important, but that is not the only driver and, for most of your staff, it is not the primary driver. They come to work to achieve things, they come for recognition and they revel in responsibility. These are important primary drivers for most people. If you are lucky, some of those people will also really care about your company and what it stands for and, if you get this right, more people will come to care.
As a manager, you also should be a leader. You may not be, but you could be if you really wanted to make a difference. Remember that leaders might not know how to get to where we are all going and that’s fine because you have competent people who will be able to work out all of the logistics of moving forward for you. They will revel in that responsibility if you will give it to them. But the one thing a leader really needs is a vision. You need to know where you are going and a well-crafted mission statement can help you to articulate that destination to those around you.
One last thing: if you will be creating a mission statement from scratch, don’t do it in isolation. Get as many people involved as you can. Solicit everyone’s views about the company, what they believe it stands for, what is good and bad about it. Collect this information anonymously. Make sure it is truly anonymous and tell people you are looking for the truth and that there will be no consequences for anyone speaking their mind. And make sure there aren’t.
The truth sometimes hurts and so, often, people will simply avoid telling you the truth. Human nature being what it is, they will simply tell you what they think you want to hear. You need to listen to people – really listen. You are not trying to find out what is wrong and then fix it; resist that temptation. Instead, you are attempting to take people’s views into consideration in the formation of the vision that will enable the organisation to move forward.
You are creating the strategic blueprint that will become your point of reference; the living document that everyone will use as a point of reference in their subsequent decision-making. Don’t rush it. Take your time. Do it well. Then get your people together to acknowledge your past failures and inspire them with the challenge of co-creating the future you all care about.