The "Millimeter Approach" to Change Employee Morale

Are you finding that the energy around the office is maybe a little off? Staff aren't as excited to be at work like they used to be. Smiles aren't as abundant as they once were. Maybe something happened recently, and you can feel the negativity in the vibe. How do you change it? Like everything else I teach, the "millimeter approach" can change everything. Here are some tips to take small steps toward an overall boost in attitude and elevated morale.
First, acknowledge the problem. You can't change something without communicating awareness about it. Call a staff meeting and openly discuss the issue of morale. Give people a "free pass" to air some of their grievances. Make sure (and this is key) you don't argue with them or make them wrong for expressing their thought and feelings. Do make sure it doesn't turn into an all-out complaint zone. Make a list of the concerns and ensure each person is heard.
Second, identify the specific problems and then resolve one at a time. Take the list and systematically (make sure you address each issue one day at a time and make that your goal) address the issues. For example, let's say employees feel it has been too long since they had a raise. Your first step should be to acknowledge "why" there have been no raises.
Institute a solution. To address the problem, create a bonus program based on a team goal. If we make X sales in the month of July, I will provide a bonus of $X dollars to each person. That is step one, but to address the overall need for a company-wide raise, you can incrementally increase the sales figures and make not just a monthly goal but an annual goal. If we make this sales figure in this many months, you all will receive this dollar figure raise. Start small though with the bonus program. If you make your staff over-reach for a number that seems too big your staff is less likely to achieve goal and less likely to receive the reward, and your desire to improve morale is defeated and possibly even exacerbated. So start small, start with a do-able goal, and go one step, one day and one month at a time.

Now go to the next problem on the list. Take the same steps and create solutions. By the time you finish this exercise you will have identified and solved the morale problems. Notice the difference in employee's attitudes once they start "winning" on the job. When employees feel heard, acknowledged and see actions taken, morale will increase because you've empowered them. It is only when employees feel helpless and see that nothing changes do they begin to lose enthusiasm for their jobs. These small steps toward solutions will even improve their attitudes.