When times are tough, keep the spirits high

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English: Brian Wilson during a performance at ...
English: Brian Wilson during a performance at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the song “Heroes and Villains” from Brian Wilson’s “Smile”, there is that memorable line “In the Cantina Margarita keeps the spirits high”. It conjurors a picture of men and women in a bar having a fun time possibly after hearing bad news or witnessing some awful event. But it reminds me of the importance of morale, especially when times are bad.

I was talking to a business owner in Pretoria recently about another business where the staff had made several mistakes and goods needed to be returned to the company. He mentioned that this company had gone through changes this year and it was probably the result of employees lacking supervision and training and the lack of management attention. He said that in his small business he made sure that his employees’ morale was kept high on a daily basis because it is so important to the success of their small business.

Another person who runs a small group of businesses makes sure that he goes out at least once a week to get on the retail shop floor to meet with employees, listen to their concerns and the successes. What this ensures is that employees know that management takes interest in their work and recognises them for their contribution.

Often this job is left to the first-line supervisor who doesn’t always do the best job in the world of ensuring morale is kept high. The senior manager or business owner can help with the ethos in the workplace through felt management where managers meet with employees in person and talk to them.

It’s amazing how detrimental this lack of attention to the morale of employees can be for any business, especially small businesses where often more is expected from employees. Managers will chant the mantra that communication is important but when difficult times come about they often close up and two-way communication shuts down.

This is the wrong approach. It’s particularly during bad or trying times that communication is so important and the small business owner just through their presence and engagement with employees can ensure improved morale. Employees work long and hard hours contributing to the success of a small business but if that magic ingredient of high morale which leads to greater levels of energy is absent, mistakes are made, goods are damaged, customers are unhappy and the inevitable drop off in sales occurs.

Why not take some time to gauge the level of morale in your small business? Go out and talk to employees and see how they are doing. Try to find out what is wrong if there is a morale problem and work on improving things. Your efforts and time won’t go unrewarded.

Strong motivation ensures that employees give their best. It’s not only clear and definite goals and objectives, financial rewards and working conditions that ensure morale is high but also respect and appreciation. Positive feedback from business owners and managers regarding a job well done is appreciated by employees and boosts their morale.

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