Office morale is and always has been a fragile thing. You can start a project with a strong, united team, only to have a collection of backbiting malcontents by the end—if you handle the situation the wrong way.
Unfortunately, it’s really easy to do that. Especially if you use one of the guaranteed bad ideas below:
You prioritize yourself
Leaders are supposed to put their team members first. In a military organization, they’re the ones who eat last, sleep least, and work the most. They put the welfare of their team first. But if you place too much emphasis on what’s important to you—your reputation, your workload, or your well-being—then your team will know you’re not looking out for their best interests.
You play political games
Your team isn’t just a team—it’s a kingdom. It’s a power base that you can use to build influence in your company or career. You view other project managers as rivals, and constantly fight them for resources, plum projects, and prestige.
Your team are pawns, and they know it. You only care about them as much as they’re useful to you, and that’s going to affect how they respond to your feedback and orders.
You don’t communicate properly
Communication is one of the most vital parts of a project. Yet for every effective communication, there are six ways of doing it wrong. It’s a very easy mistake to make, especially if you’re only thinking of yourself and not the person at the other end of the line. You might think you’re forwarding enough information to your team, but your team might not agree.
This also applies to personal interactions. If you don’t keep other people’s feelings or reactions in mind, you’ll come off as rude and abrasive, or arrogant and detached. This is a death sentence for a person in a leadership role.
Every man for himself
Do you wash your hands of your team’s every mistake? Do you think they should be grown-up enough to take responsibility for their actions?
If so, then your team has no reason at all to make you look good. Loyalty is a luxury in this scenario, and they won’t be willing to give it to you. They want a leader who will have their backs and stand up for them. And if they don’t have that, then they’re probably going to start playing the blame game and become a dysfunctional team.
Your projects aren’t going to instantly blow up, but you’ll definitely feel the impact of negative morale. Deadlines start slipping. The general mood will turn sour. Employees will detach from their work and team as they look for other jobs.
And it’s all thanks to you.
Image credit, Flickr, Rhys A.