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How Teamwork in the Workplace Boosts Morale and Delivers Results

How Teamwork in the Workplace Boosts Morale and Delivers Results

If you want a lesson on team morale and its criticality, just look to American soldiers in World War II and Vietnam. These were very different times, exceedingly different public networks of morale, and as history tells, very different outcomes.

Morale is the confidence, enthusiasm and discipline of a person or a group. Many factors combine to create or destroy team morale.

Military organizations know this. They know that a lack of morale hinders everything, which for warfare can mean the loss of a nation. This reality causes the military to boost the morale of every soldier and every squad at every opportunity.

But it doesn’t stop with the soldiers. Military organizations also maintain and enhance the morale of the commanders, wives, husbands and children of soldiers, and of the nation in general. If they didn’t, a soldier or his team dodging bullets in a warzone hellscape might lose “the confidence, enthusiasm, and discipline” necessary to survive.

Since teamwork in the workplace is critical to a successful business, your teams’ morale is critical as well.

And as you may have guessed from my soldier example, it involves more than just individual workers in a team. It involves the individual, the team, the department, other departments, the division, the entire company, the community outside of the company and even the spouses and children of employees.

You need to make as many people working, and supporting workers, excited about the mission and the outcomes.

As a leader, you cannot leave this to chance. It is one of the Tough Things First that you must do. It is a daily task for a CEO, a priority because when team morale falters, so does the team. And when the team falters, so does the company.

Here are 9 tips that are helpful in maintaining and growing morale in your company:

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1. Play

Many people rightly live by the creed that “the family that plays together stays together,” because it is true. The same applies to any group of people who, like families, spend a great deal of time together.

You cannot know, and thus cannot like and trust a person wholly if you only know one aspect of them. When you only “work” with people, those people become an object of labor, not happiness.

Get your teams out of the work environment for social interactions. It can be a Friday beer bust, a company picnic, or even a formal social event. Just put the same people, and preferably people from different but cooperating departments someplace where “work” is not being done.

2. Slay Silos

All organizations tend to create silos, most often around teams, be it a small work group or a global division. This is quite natural, but such organizational silos stymie teamwork and team building.

Silos are literally barriers to organizational effectiveness, and thus barriers to morale. It is best to prevent silos from happening rather than tearing them down, though the latter must occur once silos arise.

When people are brought together from across organizations, and they discuss their needs in the framework of the company mission, the need to aid and cooperate helps dissolve silos.

A mutual mission is always the key to people working together, including entire divisions cooperating and supporting one another.

3. Meet

Regular meetings between organizational units fosters teamwork.

“Regular” is the key concept. One-time meetings to force alignment have a short lifetime of effectiveness.

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But regular meetings, where the issues of the week/month/quarter/year are placed on the table help people see what is hindering success. Your purchasing team needs to meet regularly with your manufacturing team. Your engineering teams need to meet with your marketing teams.

Anywhere one teams’ work affects other teams is an ongoing opportunity for regular meetings.

4. Recognition

People and teams like praise, and they like being recognized for their effort. It sounds simple, but authentic praise is more uplifting than a bonus check.

Rewarding an organization that demonstrates good teamwork encourages the same across other parts of the company. In some companies, cross-functional cooperation can become a competitive streak.

The goal is cross-functional harmony – all parts of the company working cooperatively, and thus raising everybody’s morale in the process.

5. Activities

Regular company activities foster and develop teamwork. Why? Because humans need to know people in order to trust them to be part of any team.

If you took several employees and put them on a team for tug-of-war at the company picnic, they would understand that they can count on the others to (pun intended) pull their weight.

Putting employees who should know, but don’t know one another together on a personal basis expands their willingness to engage one another in their work, and that willingness improves morale.

6. Peer-Apart Recognition

At Micrel, the semiconductor company I founded and led for 37 years, we facilitated employee recognition from across silos. In other words, employees received recognition not from their teammates – they did that too – but from other departments.

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We had a program to nominate an “Employee of the Quarter”, the nominations coming from a different department than the one in which the employee works. But this process need not be restricted to individuals.

Entire teams can be recognized in the same way. This concept could be expanded to “Organization of the Quarter” with nominations by other groups within the company organizations.

7. Mixed Meetings

Why restrict a meeting to just people on a team? Have weekly meetings and invite representatives from each organization to attend.

Imagine an engineering team meeting with a representative or two from design, manufacturing, marketing, sales, HR, etc. Expand this even more by conducting “company coordination meetings” whereby cross-team representatives meet to tackle company-wide issues.

This worked very well at Micrel. Just be sure to change-up the invitees, so everyone attends one of these meetings at some point. It is this cycling that makes every employee feel they are contributing and that they are part of the company, not just their work group.

8. Help First

Encourage employees to answer their phone, their emails, any communication, by saying “how can I help you?” Those five simple words change the nature of every interaction, by making assistance the goal.

Knowing that you are likely to be helped, raises your morale because you never become pre-programmed for defeat.

When you make this a company-wide habit, the spirit of helping first prevails. And when every employee knows that everyone in a company is instantly willing, perhaps even anxious to help, morale expands geometrically.

9. First Name Basis

Encourage everyone to learn employees’ first names. This may sound trivial, but familiarity breeds trust.

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This minor intimacy is essential to breaking down barriers, and it simultaneously boosts morale.

The Bottom Line

Morale is raised or impeded, boosted or barricaded. It is as important to recognize those things that prevent morale as it is to raise morale.

Recognizing each aspect of morale  – confidence, enthusiasm, discipline – their current conditions, and what is making each aspect less than it should be tells you what needs to be done.

For example, morale can fade simply through inattention. If workers don’t think they are appreciated for their effort, then their morale suffers. In our analysis of this particular ailment, a boost – even simple praise – is called for. There were no impediments to morale, but there was a lack of encouragement from management.

On the other side of the coin might be a situation where there is a lack of support for the mission and associated tasks from other groups. This lack of cross-organizational support likely comes from silos – self-created isolation between groups – which can cause morale to suffer greatly due to the feeling of “we have to do this all on our own”. This barrier needs removing to keep morale from rapidly sinking.

External factors too can be a psychological barrier to morale. If changes in your market, your competition, or the economy generate doubt among employees, you need to enhance their belief in survival while knocking down the perceived barriers to success.

Most importantly though is teamwork. The sense of working together is very important for morale.

When an employee strives to complete the organization’s mission, but feels like everyone else is not on the same team – that they are creating barriers and failing in their esprit de corps – morale is impossible.

It is your company’s leadership that has the responsibility to focus everyone on the same mission, clear the barriers to achievement, and reward the team effort. Combined, this creates unbeatable morale.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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Ray Zinn

Ray Zinn is an inventor, entrepreneur, investor, angel, bestselling author and the longest serving CEO of a publicly traded company in Silicon Valley.

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Last Updated on November 15, 2019

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems, why?

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

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The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

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The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

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It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

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For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

More About Changing Habits

Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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