Retail Observer

May 2014

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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RETAILOBSERVER.COM MAY 2014 44 RO Libby Wagner Culture Coach Libby Wagner, author of The Influencing Option: The Art of Building a Profit Culture in Business, works with clients to help them create and sustain Profit Cultures. I f morale is the ability of people to maintain belief in an organization or institution, then whose responsibility is it to see that morale is managed? What happens when morale sinks or stinks? When someone feels good about her work and believes in her organization, she is willing to respond appropriately to her tasks or duties. She is also able to focus on those tasks or duties with minimal distractions from her feelings about her work because she believes in what she's doing and what her organization is doing. Consider all the components to this foundation of organizational morale: • First, the organization needs to have something in which people can believe—this is usually a service or purpose identified by an organizational mission statement. • Second, the employee needs to know her place, her part in this mission and what she's responsible for contributing. • Third, she needs regular feedback and praise to help keep her on track and on target. Often, people may believe in a particular work group or office unit with whom they work closely—their team—but they do not believe in the larger organization or in the organization's leaders. They stay and try to do their best in their work group because they are committed to those people and those tasks or outcomes. However, without a commitment to the organization itself, they are also more likely to falsely represent the organization or to behave unethically. What we need is a commitment to a shared vision or goal. How do you get a commitment to a shared vision or goal? Here are two initial things to consider: First, does the person understand the vision or goal? Do they know what to do? What part do they play? Understanding is the first step. Second, do their behaviors match with their understanding—this is commitment. Someone says he is invested in a vision—he can understand it and talk about it and make plans, but unless he is demonstrating this understanding—actually performing according to the shared vision with behaviors—he isn't committed. Once you recognize a commitment to the shared vision or goal, how do you continue to influence performance and morale? 1. Show respect. To respect someone is to recognize, that no matter someone's rank or position or level, he has something to contribute that is essential, integral to an organization's success and effectiveness. To show respect means that I never talk down or belittle or suggest that you are not worthy of my time and attention. 2. Demonstrate empathy. Listen with respect and reflect an understanding of what someone feels and why s/he feels that way. Do this without judgment or making it about you. Use the Covey principle of seeking first to understand, then to be understood. When we listen to understand, we begin to build strong foundations for leadership and trust. This, in turn, sets the stage for developing that commitment to the shared goal or vision. 3. Be specific. Don't make people guess. They'll usually try their best, but sometimes, they'll be wrong, and then everyone's disappointed. Good leaders must be willing to be specific. In an organization, this manifests in the ability to identify clear expectations for what the vision is, what the work looks like, how we will conduct ourselves with others. Specificity will be outlined in clear policies, accurate performance expectations, true positive feedback and guidelines for improved performance. 4. Be genuine. To be genuine, or sincere, is difficult to define, but most people will tell you when they recognize its presence or its absence. Genuineness requires honesty, vulnerability and accountability. When we are genuine with one another, we ask for help when we need it. We praise one another honestly. We approach our work with a sense of service rather than gain. Morale is everyone's responsibility, true, but organizational leaders, managers, and supervisors have a particularly essential role in this. It is their job to make sure that each person understands and demonstrates a commitment to a shared vision. Because these leaders often accomplish their work through the work of others, their influence on morale is paramount to the organization's success. THE FOUR KEYS TO INFLUENCING PERFORMANCE & MORALE

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