Not everyone loves their job. Some menial tasks can’t be avoided, and some days are more challenging than the rest. But as a senior manager, you must wear many hats – fearless leader, networking expert, corporate strategist. And to boost the spirits of your employees and coworkers, sometimes you need to step up and become what we at Experteer call a “mood minister.” This is no easy task, but those in a position of power are often directly responsible for the energy of everyone around. How are your actions and feelings influencing the atmosphere at your office? How can you foster a happy work environment, and more importantly, how can you sustain it?
Take the Pulse
Recently, many startups and top organizations have shared one of their best practice tips for keeping employees happy – short, simple surveys. By polling employees from time to time, your company stands to gain valuable insights from employees. You can ask your employees for their thoughts on everything, from the coffee machine to infrastructure. It might even help your staff get used to the idea if you start with some light-hearted or fun topics, like “Where should we hold our summer picnic?” However, you can also get some deep perspectives by asking the tough stuff. Some tips for these surveys:
- Try to send out “pulse” emails once a week, at most
- Answers should remain anonymous to encourage honesty
- Services like Niko Niko, Know Your Company, and 6Q all offer this type of tool
- Keep surveys short – even one open-ended question could shed some light on problem topics at the office
- Utilize this information, and discuss regularly with your HR team how to implement these findings
Recent studies done by the University of Kentucky measure the impact of a “bad boss” on employees. In the workplace, a lot of today’s employees place significant value in recognition for their work. If they feel as though they have a real goal to work towards, and that they are sufficiently recognized and rewarded for their efforts, they will feel more motivated to strive for success.
To help cultivate this atmosphere, the presence of a senior manager can be invaluable. Take it upon yourself to get to know your employees. Familiarize yourself and make sure you know them all by name. Try to schedule regular lunches, and ask them about their individual goals and challenges. Get their input on other matters in the office, and see what suggestions or feedback they may have to improve their working conditions. By offering an open ear to your employees, you’ll show them that you care about their work, and they’ll feel more motivated to strive a little harder.
Rally the Troops
Too many senior managers make the mistake of thinking that an employee can be “bought,” or motivated simply by offering a small reward. Stay away from cheap incentives or silly tricks – “Casual Fridays” will not boost the morale of a demotivated office. It’s also easy to think that a Happy Hour, or fancy lunch will buy some smiles – and it might. But if your goal is to reignite a sustainable spark of motivation within your staff, try planning an event that reminds your employees of why they chose to work for you in the first place.
Consider an event like a Hackathon. Though the concept is typically for developers and designers, and other employees in the tech sphere, there are plenty of ways to adapt the concept to fit your company. The idea is this: block off a full or half day, depending on what your company can accommodate. Pick a topic, and give your employees plenty of advance notice. Ideas for potential topics might be “Innovative Ad Campaigns,” or “Tools to Improve Workflow.” Even something like “Engaging Social Media Themes” could be useful, depending on your industry.
Start off the day with light refreshments from your team, and briefly explain the agenda for the day. Then split your staff up into diverse teams – try to avoid entire departments from winding up on the same team, as the idea is to mix employees who may not have a chance to interact so frequently. Give them a few hours to create a presentation or proposal, and decide on an “end” time, at which point your company can reconvene and share their accomplishments over the course of the day.
Take plenty of pictures, and encourage open thinking. These kind of exercises can be invaluable to your company. By showing each team member that their input is valued, and that they have the space to express themselves freely, you can help to foster a positive and open environment.
As a senior manager, a lot of the responsibility for your staff’s mood lies in your hands. But by listening to their opinions, building relationships, and promoting creativity, you can create a happier work environment!