When Army leaders fail to control battlefield stress, they lose as many soldiers to combat stress as they do to enemy bullets. Even when they are well trained, these soldiers are more likely to collapse in the face of great stress.
Units with high morale and esprit de corps, however, lose only 10% as many troops to stress. The training and preparation are important, but the high sense of teamwork makes all the difference.
This same sense of teamwork and belonging is important in the corporate environment. Where teamwork, morale, and esprit are good, the companies find improved productivity and increased profits. Employees are willing to sacrifice personal gain for the sake of the team.
Some of the bonding is so great that employees brand themselves the same way as the elite soldiers, wearing, wearing visible ID tags, logos, and apparel wherever they go.
Where morale and esprit are weak, employees refuse to wear these identifying symbols -- and productivity suffers as unmotivated employees pay more attention to personal gain than to the team effort.
If absenteeism, early departures, accidents and other problems make you think employees need a morale booster shot, you can try some of the following successful techniques.
1. Develop logo mugs, caps, shirts, or sweaters for everyone. You can do this annually to keep the items fresh, but you'll defeat your purpose if you buy cheap stuff.
2. Recognize team accomplishments with graduation certificates, plaques, mugs, and other items to brand teams and compliment individuals.
3. Povide logo items to special task force or problem solving team members upon completion of the project.
4. Sponsor special team nights out, in recognition of achievement or as an annual affair to encourage team bonding and relationships. People don't really have time for this type bonding on the job. Be sure to give corporate gifts at these events.
5. Establish athletic teams to compete with other departments. You pay the space expenses and equipment costs. Many corporate problems can be solved by getting team members to compete together.
6. Present special training for team members to enhance job performance and team relationships.
7. Send key team members for high-adventure training where physical excitement encourages bonding. Make sure everyone gets to participate in some way, even if they are in support of those taking part in the more adventurous outing.
8. Sponsor annual company picnics where teams compete in athletic events or participate in unique ways to provide food, entertainment for others in the organization.
9. Generate internal competition so departments compete for best overall improvement or fewest quality complaints. Be careful not to have internal teams competing for cash awards, e.g. annual bonuses, or you'll create a lot of negative stress and distrust that is hard to repair.
10. Leadership participation is important in each of these morale building team efforts. Leaders need to be a part of the competition and the adventure. They also need to personally award the logo items and compliment those teams that achieve.
Investment in team awards or recognition items is returned many times over through decreased stress, improved productivity, and decreased absenteeism. These efforts are even more important in hard times, so budget for morale building and esprit in good times and bad.
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Dale Collie - professional speaker, former
US Army Ranger, CEO, and a Fast Company top
50 innovative leader. Author of "Winning
Under Fire." (McGraw-Hill) firstname.lastname@example.org