How to Improve Employee Morale and Engagement

Guest post by John Hunter, author of Management Matters: Building Enterprise Capability.

The way to improve morale and engagement is to improve the work. Eliminate things that drive workers crazy by making their work more difficult and by creating work that should never have to be done if the system were designed better. You improve morale by making the job better, by creating systems that allow people to take pride in their work and eliminate waste that frustrates them.

visual with quote: You can’t work directly on morale. You work on other things and morale will come along with it.

The quote in the image above and the text below are from an Interview of Bill Hunter, Brian Joiner and Peter Scholtes on Better Management Practices

If they are going to work with the attitude that part of my job is to figure out how we can make things work better around here it adds another challenge to the job which makes the work more fun and more enjoyable. It all points in the same direction it seems to me. These methods do feed into making jobs more interesting and morale going up and the job being better.

— Bill Hunter

So often people look at motivation, morale, and engagement with a theory x mindset (a theory x manager believes that his or her employees do not really want to work, that they would rather avoid responsibility, and that it is the manager’s job to structure the work and energize the employee). It is much more effective, as Dr. Deming taught, to create conditions that allow people to take pride in their work.

From my previous blog post, Tyranny of the Prevailing Style of Management:

management needs to design and nurture a management system that allows our natural desire to take pride and joy in our work. When managing human system an appreciation for psychology allows managers to build systems that nurture intrinsic motivation and then benefit from the great results people taking pride in their work can provide.

The Deming management system is designed to create conditions that allow employees to excel and create great value for the business. We want to create systems that benefit all the stakeholders: the employees, customers, etc.. Business is not a zero-sum game; though many act as if it is. Creating conditions that allow people to take joy in their work allows them to provide the most value to the organization. And creating conditions that sap employee morale and engagement harms employees and also harms the business.

Related: The greatest waste in America is failure to use the ability of peopleCreate a System That Lets People Take Pride in Their WorkPeter Scholtes on Managing People and MotivationManagers Should Focus on Eliminating De-motivation

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