Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Employees follow their leaders

Last, month, Steven W. Smith, president and managing director of WSP-SELLS (Briarcliff Manor, NY), a 250-person transportation and infrastructure firm, wrote about riding out the economic downturn. This month, Smith looks at employee morale and how to deal with it when it's flagging:

"If you have an office with poor morale, don’t fall back on the easy explanation and blame the economy, because that may not be the real reason. If you are honest with yourself, you will see that poor morale starts and ends with the leadership of your managers in that office. This became crystal clear to me after a recent survey of our business. WSP performs an annual online survey through the Gallup poll to measure our staff satisfaction. The results are broken down by operating company; by manager; by office; by gender; by age, etc. It is a great tool to get a pulse of your employees.

"We have a couple offices that have been really affected by the downturn in the economy. These offices have had staff reductions and reduced work hours. One would expect both offices to score similarly in the staff satisfaction polling, but this was simply not the case. One office has high staff morale and motivation, while the other was just the opposite with a grim view of future opportunities. Taking a step back and looking at the leaders of those offices you can readily see why this is the case. Where morale is high, the leaders are strong; they communicate well; they are optimistic about life and the business; they solve their own problems. It is clear: if the leaders set the proper tone, the office will follow."

Does your firm have an issue with poor morale, either in one office or across the board? What are you doing about it?

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