240: Boosting Team Morale

11 Minutes Read
How do you keep your team motivated and engaged, especially during challenging times? In this episode of the Superabound Podcast, we share insights on how to boost team morale by clarifying the game your business is playing, and helping your people win it.

You will discover:
  • What to do—and what to avoid—when morale is low
  • The role of feelings in helping your people do their best work
  • Why you don't have to know what's going on to help your team recover from a setback

To help you have more productive meetings, especially when morale is low, we created the Superabound Meeting Template. It's two pages of quick, actionable insights to help you get the most out of your valuable work day and help your team feel like their time is respected and valued.

To download the free Superabound Meeting Template, click here.


Episode Transcript

Erin Aquin  0:02  
Welcome to the Superabound Podcast with master coaches Erin Aquin and Steve Haase, where business owners like you learn the tools that help you clarify vision, clear up static and overcome challenges. You are listening to Episode 240: Boosting Team Morale. Hello, how are you, we hope that you have had a chance to listen to our episode, better meetings, because this is sort of a deeper look at how to have better meetings, especially through the lens of boosting team morale. Now, I have not worked in a corporate environment for many years. And I do remember some of the ways that the companies I worked for would try to keep us happy when I worked a corporate job. I was working for a promotion company, some really big entertainment companies in the country that I live in. And some of those boosts of team morale would be like Friday barbecues, and over the top yearly parties, which I will admit, were very, very fun. There were probably some ill fated things that would not be cool. Here in 2023 that happened at those particular events. It was a different time. But they never really had us in a meeting where we did things that were very productive. And we left that meeting with a sense of purpose. Yes, the party's very fun. No one knows how to throw a party like the music industry. But if you didn't like your job, a really fun night at the bar was not going to suddenly have you show up on Monday morning. Happy to be there. So we are going to talk about how to boost team morale. Without the bells and whistles you can do that stuff, if that's fun for you. But without beer pong without team trivia nights, those are all great. But boosting morale happens within work hours, and hopefully within the meeting template that we've created for you over at besuperabound.com/meeting. Hi, Steve.

Steve Haase  2:26  
Hey, Erin, I wish I knew you back in those days when you were having those crazy parties. I don't know, maybe I don't glad our relationship started. After those days perhaps. As you were talking, what came to me was one of my favorite sentences about morale. It comes from my brother who was in the military. But then I heard it from one of my clients who's in PR, and they were both the same. They said the ultimate morale boost is winning. So just take a moment right there and consider what it means to win for you at your company. What it means for each of your people to win. One of my favorite exercises to give especially new managers is have them sketch out what game their people are playing. If you think about how fun it is to play a game, if you like baseball or basketball, I played a pickup game with some high schoolers just over the weekend. It's the first time I'd played ball in years, maybe I was so rusty. But I was still about a foot taller than them. So my my two on two team one, we just love games. And so when you are a leader, when you're a manager, your job is to scope out to sketch out the playing field on which your people's work life is unfolding. You are creating the game that they are there to win. So the ultimate morale boost is winning. And so that means that you need to put some thought into how somebody wins the game at your team at your workplace. How your company wins the game. That's your vision. That's your reason for being and what it means for each person to win their own game. That's why you have those one on one meetings, you want to know what matters to you. Right? What matters to that person that you're sitting with. That's how you help them win their game, if you are their champion to help them be victorious. That is the ultimate boost to morale.

Erin Aquin  4:28  
And honestly, I think most of us company leaders or team leaders have work to do in this department. We often don't have meetings to talk about how we're winning how to play the game better. A lot of times our meetings are like there's a problem we need to every bit all hands war room like help. Things aren't not not going well. And having those meetings of course is is important but if but if your own only ever focusing on the things that are not working, you will not have good team morale, it's just not possible if you don't set something up where your people feel supported, and they feel like they know how to win. And they have a path to doing that. How is anyone ever going to feel satisfied in their job at your company. So one of the things I would love to talk about Steve is how we deal when morale is low. So it's amazing, we're going to be better at setting the game telling people what it looks like to win, making sure that our company vision is woven throughout everything we do everything we talk about, and that each individual knows what winning looks like. Definitely important must do. But what happens if maybe that hasn't been in place for a while in your company? What do we do when morale is low? What kind of meeting are we going to?

Steve Haase  6:01  
Yeah, this is the tricky part. This is where you really earn your stripes and earn your pay as a leader. Because if morale is low, your job is to fix that, oh, it's to actually figure out why. What to do about it, and guide that path to where people are back, enjoying their work, doing great work, really achieving the results that they're there to get. Because the problem with low morale is that it often leads to bad work. People are doing stuff that's not important, they're doing stuff that's not at a good enough level, they're not helping the company get to where it needs to go. Otherwise, you wouldn't have bad morale, right? If everyone's waiting, everything's fine. And so in those cases, when things are low, that's when you really put on your hat as team captain as the person who is there to guide them to the good place. The point to begin is acknowledging the truth. If morale is low, and you just go in trying to make everyone happy, you say, hey, all right. Beer pong, you're gonna be in trouble, because you're missing what's right in front of you. So you begin with acknowledging what's there. And this kind of leads us into one of the things that we love talking about because it's so powerful, which is healing static. When we're talking about low morale, what's happening is a state of collective static, where everybody is kind of detuned from the vision, they're detuned, from their own belief that they can when they're in a place where they don't believe that they can ever get to where they want to be, or that the that the current state is so bad, that it's not worth really giving their best, and believing that winning is possible. So Erin, if you haven't noticed already is a master at helping people uncover their static, find why it matters, release it, so they can learn from it and move on to a place that's more aligned with where they want to go. So Erin, I want to know, when everybody's feeling the bad feels, quote, unquote, what do you do?

Erin Aquin  8:27  
I'll preface this by saying, I used to be a relationship coach. So I know that I'm maybe more comfortable with difficult to say things, just because I watched hundreds of couples sort out their shit together. And so I just want to say that because for you as the leader, if you're feeling that there's collective static, you will 100% feel very awkward about bringing it up. That is normal, doesn't mean you shouldn't. But I just want to acknowledge that this will probably be one of the more unpleasant times that you ever have in a meeting. But as you said, Steve, it's the job of the leader to go first to be the one who points to it. And it can be as simple as actually, I personally love straightforward communication. So if it were me and my team, I would just say, Listen, I am noticing that a few months ago, we were having so much fun in this business. I would come in you were all excited to be here. You seemed like things were going great. And then I noticed that when this thing changed in our business. Now I come in and the office seems quiet. People seem more reserved. And rather than assume I know what's going on. I want to I had that I called this meeting. So that it, we could discover it and talk about it together in a safe place. Because I'm here to help you, I'm here to to work with you, I'm here to support you. But I can't do that if I'm not aware of what's going on. And right now, I'm feeling weird vibes. Now, of course, you're gonna probably say that little script in a different way, in a way that works for your, your people and your own vibe. But assume you don't actually know what's going on, I actually think that is a superpower that most leaders lack. We like to think we know everything that's going on, we would like to think that we have a really clear idea of everybody's strengths and weaknesses. But it's hard to have a meeting and have people open up if you've already made up your mind about what's going on. So suspend what you think is going on, be willing to do that. Be willing to say that be willing for it to feel a little awkward for you. And bring it up in a way that invites your people to tell you what's going on. In their experience. This is a coaching technique, even if you're not a coach like we are, it's really, really important that you enter the conversation with curiosity, and openness. So that is where I would start. And that allows your group to start to heal static, which stands for which H E. A L stands for honor, you honor what's going on. Next you explore, ie, explore. And when you do this in a team, you can say, you know, does anybody else, notice that the energy just in around here feels a little blah. So anybody else notice that? You know, we're not speaking to each other with as much kindness as we used to, or that, you know, our customers seem like, they're much less happy than they were, like you speak to the things you can actually experience, whether energetically or metrics, you know, has anyone else noticed that our sales have gone down, and everyone's really unhappy about that, it may seem silly to point that out. But if you're not willing to talk about it, and you're not willing to make it safe to bring it up and discuss it, you are letting that thing fester.

Steve Haase  12:20  
Now if you're getting squeamish just hearing all this talk about the vibe and the energy and how people are feeling. It's okay. We've had decades upon decades of training, that feelings are not allowed at work, they're not helpful for work, it is okay. to question the role of feelings at work. We did a whole podcast on it, Episode 235 His feelings at work. But once you realize the power that our emotions have on us, showing up doing our best, really being creative, being actually engaged rather than looking engaged or trying to impress the boss, or any one of the other very problematic activities that happen at work. Once you realize the role of feelings in helping your people do their best work, and really love being part of your team and part of your company, then everything we're talking about will have a home, it will make sense, right? The meeting to find out what's going on is not a sidebar, it's not a touchy feely diversion from the task at hand. It is the thing that is going to help you turn morale around. And so it's important to become comfortable with each of those four steps in the heal static process. So like Erin mentioned, starting with honoring what's going on, right? It's not a problem. There's nothing has gone wrong. But we do need to figure out what's happening so that we can shift it, and then exploring what's coming up for everyone. And the important thing here is that as the leader, you open up the door to vulnerability yourself. When I'm giving a presentation, and I'm asking people to feel into what's happening for them. I'll toss things out for folks to grab on to I'll and the more vulnerable it is the better, right? If it's kind of surface level things like, Oh, I have a bit of a headache. There's not so great. But if you say I don't think I'm worthy of this success, boom, right? Then you open the door for people to say, Oh, my boss is a human too. This is a safe space to actually be a real person and not have to put on my work filter in the wrong sort of way. So you help people explore what's going on. And then you ask questions of it. The asking is where you say, why might we be feeling these things? Maybe everyone's nervous after missing a sales number. You say, Why might it be just the right thing for us to be feeling nervous right now? Why is that here for us? Rather than like we can't, we got to stop at this nervousness will not do instead you say, Why is this here? And then you're going to discover what's actually driving that? Maybe people don't have transparency into your sales funnel? Maybe they don't know that next month is going to be fine. Like, oh, that's cool. You can make some changes. But you would never be able to do those if you didn't get curious, like Erin said, and really ask those questions of what's going on.

Erin Aquin  15:45  
And if this is a challenge for you, you're like, Well, how do I find curiosity? How do I get curious about this? This actually is feels like a big problem. To me. One of the techniques that I use, I use this a lot as a coach, and I hope this will help you is, in my mind, I just assume that everything that people think, say and do makes sense. Maybe not in a logical way, maybe not in a rational way. But we're always looking for the way that it makes sense. Your top salesperson who suddenly feels really nervous because the whole group missed a sales target. We want to just say, Okay, it's got to make sense at some level. Let's find out how, why does this make sense? And actually love using that question with my clients, it may be one that you could use with your team. Like, how would it make sense that everybody's feeling really low? Right, now? Let's just toss out some ideas. Well, we missed our sales target last quarter. Well, that makes sense that we would feel nervous. Why would we be feeling nervous? Well, someone got fired last week. Oh, yeah, that makes sense that we would be feeling nervous. Find a way to do what most people never do, which is not assume that we are being silly, that we shouldn't feel this way that we should stuff it under the rug, shove it under the rug. And just find out. Yeah, it makes sense. If we look at some of the data lately, make sense? We'd be feeling nervous. And finally, as a leader in our he'll, he Al, static acronym, is listen, ask great questions of your team, show them how their feelings make sense why this is happening, and then listen to their ideas about what is needed to creatively move forward. This is not for you to do alone. I would say as a leader, it isn't for you to just take everything you're hearing and say, Well, the problem is everybody's got a bad attitude, and they're nervous for no reason. No. You could find out. What do you need, in order to create a environment where you feel safer? What do we need as a team to like shake out these nerves and get back to doing what we do best? Let them give you the answer. Because otherwise, you're artificially creating based on again, what you assumed to be the thing your team needs, get their feedback, get their input, it's so so powerful to do this collaboratively. I think some of the best leaders in the world, do this because you're not trying to figure everything out on your own. You're collaborating with the brilliant brains in the room with you.

Steve Haase  18:43  
Everything that you heard here today. I hope you use it, I hope you get amazing results from it. Let us know how it's going for you. I'd love to hear more about how it's working at your company. And if you feel like you need outside help, we work with teams all the time to help them uncover what some of the blockers are both in the external world and in the inner dynamics that are happening between them. If you'd like to learn more about what that could look like at your company, head over to besuperabound.com/consultation lineup a time to talk. And if you want a meeting template that will guide you through this process of healing static and also coming out with some very actionable things that will take your business forward, head over to besuperabound.com/meeting to download that template and the free walkthrough that goes with it. Thanks.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai