Let's begin by singing the jingle from an old US Army commercial. Ready? Sing! "Be all that you can be, in the Aaaaarmy." Now, don't you feel better?
"Be all that you can be." Why do you suppose the army selected this slogan? They selected it because there was a certain kind of volunteer that they wanted to attract, and that message would appeal to that group of people. They wanted to attract risk takers and adventurers. The purpose was to try and tap into the need that many people feel for adventure and growth.
In more recent times the slogan has been changed to, "An army of one." A slightly different slant in order to appeal to a generation with slightly different values, but still an appeal to the same basic group of people - the adventurer and risk taker.
Just why do they want to attract this kind of person? Simple! In a military organization, that is the kind of person they need in order to be successful in carrying out the mission. They can't recruit a bunch of lazy folks who are not self-starters and expect to get the job done. Every organization has a type of person it needs to attract in order to become more successful. If they can recruit those people, they will accomplish what they intend to do. If not, they will fail.
Is That All There Is?
Wouldn't it be great if that was all there was to it? But the reality is different. Sure we have to start with people who have the right qualifications and personality characteristics. But beyond that, every single person who comes into the organization has a whole set of other needs that must be fulfilled. They have personal growth needs, physical needs, emotional needs, relationship needs and on and on. And so what? Organizations don't function for the purpose of providing those kinds of things to its associates or employees, do they?
Well, no and yes. Certainly the primary purpose of any company or organization is to provide for the needs of the customer or client first. And even though it is not the primary purpose of an organization to provide for the human needs of its workers, the people in the organization still have the needs. And if you ignore those needs beyond a certain point, productivity will begin to suffer, regardless of the overall competence of the workforce. The trick is to, somehow, accomplish the primary mission while creating an environment which allows the organization's human individuals to experience fulfillment. It may be possible get away with being totally task focused for a while, but soon you will begin to see declines in morale and productivity.
Four Keys to High Organizational Morale
So, what are some things that can be done to insure the good of the organization and its personnel?
Number one is to be absolutely clear about task expectations. People respond more enthusiastically when they know exactly what is expected of them. This is a principle of human nature that can be clearly seen at every age of development. What happens when you don't give children clear parameters within which to live? They, literally, go wild. They need the boundaries, and so do your workers. People are able to focus more fully on the task, and will have a strong feeling of accomplishment when a job is completed, when they don't have to worry about issues that are beyond the scope of the job.
Secondly, give people an opportunity to grow. This is not a contradiction of point number one, above. At every level of responsibility people need to know the boundaries. But everyone also has an inner desire to grow beyond where they currently are. It is possible to provide higher level possibilities which also have their own parameters. Give people something to work toward and they will produce more than they would without that possibility.
A third thing that can be done is to "loosen up". This, too, can be taken too far, but the tendency is all too often in the other direction. People want to be treated with respect. If you treat people as professionals, they will respond as professionals and get their assigned tasks done, even in the absence of outside pressure. Tension in the atmosphere creates tension in the body which leads to fatigue and a loss of productivity and morale. Handled correctly, people will work from an inner motivation, which is always superior to outside pressure.
Finally, create an atmosphere of respect and friendship. Even if it means leaving a huge salary, many people will quit a job or organization that puts too much negative pressure on them. I know a number of people who have done just that. They left jobs with good pay and high prestige because the atmospheric pressure was just too high. On the other hand, people will be loyal to an organization when they feel respect and friendship, even if the pay is low.
Render Unto Caesar
Of course, the primary focus of every group must be on fulling the purpose of the organization. Most organizations don't exist for the purpose of making their members feel good. It is there to provide a product or service to its clients and customers.
That being said, there is no reason it cannot be a platform for the personal fulfillment of its employees while it is fulfilling its primary mission. If both of those things can be incorporated into the equation, you will have happy workers and a very productive organization. Everyone has a part to play in this process, but it begins at the top. Every leader sets the tone for their followers. Begin, now, to create an atmosphere in your organization that allows both the organization and the individuals to "be all that they can be".
- Dr. Freddy Davis
Dr. Freddy Davis is the owner of TSM Enterprises and conducts conferences, seminars and organizational training for executives, managers and sales professionals to help develop greater effectiveness and productivity. He is the author of the book Supercharged! as well as the Nutshell Series of books for strengthening business. You can visit the TSM website at www.tsmenterprises.com, or you can contact Freddy directly at 888-883-0656 or firstname.lastname@example.org