Which comes first – employee morale or success?

What comes first?
The Chicken or Egg Dilemma

The statement usually goes something like this: “If we can improve employee morale, we should be able to see more successful results.”

And so the focus of efforts becomes improving the morale through a variety of focus groups and action plans. Success all too often remains elusive because the stated problems are too broad to tackle, such as “we just need more people”. Engagement “events” might be planned, only to return back to the floor to experience the same frustrating problems – the initiative approach.

But what if we have it backwards? What if an individual’s morale is a result of their success? What do we know about what most people want:

  • People want to succeed and to know their hard work makes a difference.
  • People want their leaders to pay attention and know what they do, including challenges they must overcome to be successful and where they need support. Better yet, what if the leader could remove a barrier or release a needed resource?
  • People feel respected when leaders spend valuable time being present. They know you are busy yet chose to be there. This builds trust.
  • People don’t often want to be told how to do things (read micromanagement), rather thrive when coached and asked the kind of respectful questions that help them solve their puzzle and learn to problem-solve.
  • People want recognition when they succeed, to know they helped make it happen and find new skills and increasingly believe they can succeed at the next challenge.

Focus on helping our people be successful – succeeding feels good and builds morale one person at a time!   And the added benefit? The leader knows their business, gains tremendous respect for the value of the people they lead and enjoys how they experience leadership again!

With respect,


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