Morale, motivation, performance, and productivity are separate issues and should be addressed independently, not tied together as if attending to one will impact the others.
Individual morale and collective spirit are raised simultaneously when leaders and followers become aware of what they do not know and are motivated to learn new skills and practice new ways of doing things.
Individual attitudes are learned from authorities, changed by friends and enforced by group associations on the job. Leaders and followers who complain about each other reinforce negative attitudes. Which is why fostering new, more positive attitudes in the workplace is a collective responsibility. The employer and the employee each have a significant role to play in raising morale.
For example, morale building themes such as yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift; which is why it’s called the ‘present,’ stimulate positive thinking about what is really possible.
Themes such as this rejuvenate tired attitudes by setting the stage for a better future. Leaders and followers are encouraged to pull together to overcome longstanding practices that demean and downgrade people and processes.
Here’s a dramatic example of how one CEO handled low morale. He was so fed up with the way supervisors were treating the hourly workers that he put the names of every supervisor in a hat and forced the department heads to pick out their “new” crew in an NBA-like draft. Any supervisor not picked was demoted to hourly status. This bizarre strategy was designed to break up unproductive relationships and rejuvenate the workforce by improving morale. Surprisingly, it worked.
In order to minimize the negative effects of false rumors the CEO imposed these simple guidelines: (1) unless what you hear is official, do not pass it on; (2) if it must be passed on, check first with the original source to get the story straight; (3) pass along only what you know first hand without judgment or opinion.
Enforcing these guidelines and being open about what was happening actually raised everyone’s spirit and keep morale from sagging as people watched curiously from the sidelines while the realignment unfolded.
After the initial shock wore off and the rumors died down, the bulk of the workforce reacted positively to the break up of long-standing, dysfunctional cliques.