What you measure becomes important! Part 1 of 3

As most of us approach the end of the first fiscal quarter, what do your 1st quarter results look like? How are your sales, profit margins, customer satisfaction levels, and team morale? Wait-what? How can I even possibly try to measure my team’s morale?

Yes, financial and customer satisfaction reports are important and because they are specific and measurable, it is easy to pay close attention to them; but they are not the only thing you need to gauge and be aware of as an owner or manager. If you aren’t frequently taking the temperature of your individual team members and their morale, you are missing a huge opportunity to impact succession planning, avoid potential HR issues, and harness the motivation of your sales and production force. If you aren’t monitoring your team’s satisfaction you may be missing the impact you have on morale! Ouch-That one hurt a bit didn’t it!?!?

Have I convinced you yet that measuring morale is important?  We’ve got 3 specific ways to gauge morale (this week we will share 1 of them):

Have focused conversations with individual team members that discuss 3 key points:

1 – How has the individual been set up for success? (Ie. Have they been given the tools, resources, training, and support for their position and the tasks within that position?)
2 – Who is the individual’s support system at work? (Ie. Who are the peers they rely on the most,
work with the most, and do they engage with their direct supervisor often? Do they have a best friend at work?)

3-How has the individual received specific feedback in the past 6 months? (Ie. Have they participated in a coaching session, an evaluation meeting, or have they discussed a self-evaluation with a supervisor?)

Each of these key points has many questions that could be used to engage and get information or a sense of the employee’s feelings towards the workplace. One key skill is important when you are seeking information about the morale of your team-use open-ended questions! Open-ended questions are questions that do not allow
the responder to reply with yes or no, which shut down the lines of communication and expression.
Open-ended questions are worded to encourage descriptive details in the response. It’s in the details where the answer to their morale lies. Just like in an interview, if you hear details that you wish to explore more about, follow up with a probing question to continue the conversation.
Example 1
Owner: Do you have the tools you need to complete your tasks?
Employee: Yes
Example 2
Owner: Can you think of any tools you have been provided with since you took on this role
last month?
Employee: My team binder, I’ve briefly read the standard operating procedures for production line management, and I have taken my WHIMIS Level 1 training.

Owner: That is excellent to hear you have received those resources and training. Have you thought about what you can do to make sure you are able to complete the WHIMIS Level 2 training, as it needs to be done inside your first 60 days in the role?

The difference between Example 1 and 2 is that after only 1 question the conversation feels like it is finished. The employee has little viable option but to disengage from the conversation and it doesn’t allow much opportunity for him/her to share additional information. The answer “Yes”, may be true according to the employee but what if they aren’t aware they are missing something? In Example 2 the employee is required to come up with SPECIFIC examples and information; based on what the owner hears, the owner can act accordingly.

Next week I will talk about the second way to gauge your team’s morale. Till then, start having focused conversations with the individuals on your team. If you don’t start asking the right the questions now, you won’t get the answers that show you opportunities to improve or grow your morale!-Dawn