6 dumb ways to kill employee morale

ManagementSmart managers spend time practicing techniques to improve employee morale. And that’s hard work.

But many more managers do things that kill morale. Or more accurately, they FAIL to do things and that ends up killing morale.

Here are the six dumb mistakes managers often make that kill morale.

No. 1 is the failure to set clear expectations. Most people want to do well in a job. As long as they know clearly what’s expected of them, they’ll try hard to meet those expectations.

No. 2 is the failure to focus employees on the key issues. Managers may “assume” employees know what the manager knows. Or managers may have done an inadequate “selling” job to their employees to make the company’s priorities and key issues their own priorities as well.


You're Fired!
No. 3 is a failure to find the positive. Many people in leadership roles have too many things on their plate and never get around to patting people on the back enough. Worse, there are managers who try to “fix” everybody, which simply reinforces negative criticisms. All managers would do better figuring out what people are good at and play to those strengths.

Mistake No. 4 is the failure to exchange ideas in a positive, open forum. It’s almost always better to have an environment of empowerment, rather than command and control. It can’t just be management telling people what to do. Managers need to hear what’s going on from the bottom up.

Mistake No. 5 is the failure to recognize and reward outstanding performance. When people really do go outside the norm, over and above, managers need to be sure to recognize it. When they don’t, it creates a negative environment, with negative consequences for morale and productivity. This applies not only to the individual employee whose outstanding contribution isn’t acknowledged enough, but to all those around that employee as well, who see that the extraordinary effort is merely taken for granted. Their response: “Why bother?”

Mistake No. 6 is the greatest challenge for most managers. It’s the failure to understand the unique behavioral strengths and challenges of each individual. Managers who customize the work to better fit people’s innate behavior strengths get the most consistent productivity.

If you are interested in learning more about the ways managers kill employee morale, and how to fix it, visit PBP Executive Reports.


  1. Jeff Smith says:

    As mentioned, the six mistakes are very critical for a smooth operation. Higher level management morale issues can sometimes trickle down to affect other employees. The difficult task is making it known to the individual without repercussions.

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