Roadblocks: When morale is low

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Old-line managers are out of touch
Morale in the company remains consistently low. People complain about their work, their coworkers, the other departments, and especially about management. Some are very open about saying the better-than-average pay scale is the only thing keeping them there. The owners and managers of the firm can’t understand what the problem is. For decades profits have been excellent and their employees have been generously compensated. The company has grown, as has its reputation with both customers and competitors.
The culture of the company is rooted in the past. While the leaders are able to point with pride at their success, new managers and leaders are not being developed to help the firm maintain and build on that success. Existing managers remain focused on assigning tasks and monitoring results rather than on supporting and developing their people. Communication is from the top
New managers must become tomorrow’s leaders.
down and employees are valued most for doing just what they are told to do. Competition between departments is evident, especially between production and sales. The leadership believes that money is the primary motivator and is unaware of the other factors that create job satisfaction. This autocratic style worked in another day and time but is out of sync with today’s working environment.
Over time, the leadership must shift the culture of the company and develop a participatory and collaborative environment. New managers must be groomed to become tomorrow’s leaders and current managers must change their leadership style. Employees want and need the opportunity to share both responsibility and accountability. It’s time for management to relinquish some of its control.
As managers become coaches and mentors, their relationships with the employees will strengthen. Morale will rise and complaints diminish when communication becomes a two-way street and people are valued for their ideas as well as for the work they do. With an open, participatory environment where everyone feels a significant part of the team, this long-established company will be in the best position for continued growth and profitability.
Solutions to Roadblocks are provided by The Performance Group Inc, of Brookfield. Small Business Times readers who would like to see a “roadblock” addressed in this column can contact the company at 784-2922 or via e-mail at
April 1998 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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