Improving Morale on Your Team

Good team morale is one of the most important outcomes of a successful coach. Successful coaches take great pride in high morale and team spirit. They know when people work together as a team, their capacity for improving performance and results are dramatically expanded. They also know that high morale starts with them. Business leaders are, in essence, coaches. Their job is to bring out the best in their employees and help their team win. Getting and keeping the morale at a high level is one of the most important jobs of an effective leader.

Here are eight things you and your coaches can do to improve morale, performance, and results in your organization:

1. Know Your People. It is difficult to motivate a stranger. The more you know about your people, the more effective you will be at improving morale. What are their unique abilities; likes and dislikes; wants and needs? Do you know their goals? If not, why not? Do you know about their families? What are their hobbies and interests? What’s most import and to them?

2. Keep People Informed. Being in on things is one of the most powerful motivators for most people. When management fails to provide information the dangerous rumor-mill kicks in.

3. Make People Feel Important. Let them know, in as many ways as possible, that their contributions are important to the success of the organization.

4. Listen to People. One of the easiest ways to make people feel important and increase their contribution is to listen to them.

5. Keep Score.Uncertainty contributes to low morale. If players don’t know how to win on a daily basis, they will think there is no way to win, which leads to why try,which leads to low morale.

6. Always Celebrate Improvement. Look for improvement, no matter how small, and reinforce it with positive recognition. What gets rewarded gets done.

7. Conduct Regular Coaching Sessions. Focus on desired results and the behaviors needed to produce those results. Each coaching session needs to include the status of current results, the desired results, behaviors needed, by coach and player, to reach the results, and action steps that will be taken between coaching sessions.

8. Give Appropriate Feedback. Give frequent feedback. The severest form of criticism is not to find fault but to ignore someone. Give positive feedback. Positive feedback encourages and builds up. Negative feedback destroys initiative and morale. Give specific feedback that reinforces the behavior you want repeated for success.

Look for the following warning signs of a need to improve morale in your organization:


Turf protection

Excessive meetings

Low Productivity/profitability


Working at cross-purposes

Majoring on minors

Quality issues

Safety issues

Lack of new ideas/innovation

Lack of teamwork Missed deadlines

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Benefits of Keeping Score

Keeping score generates excitement for players and fans. Score keeping improves individual and team performance; enhances concentration and focus; helps coaches and players make better decisions; helps prevent and solve problems; dentifies opportunities for training; and makes it easier to accurately project outcomes.

Keeping score provides early warning signals. The gauges on the dashboard of your vehicle provide a form of keeping score. They indicate how much fuel you have, how well your engine is performing, and whether it needs maintenance. The odometer indicates how far you have driven –overall and on a given trip. A thermostat is used to keep score on the room temperature and adjust the heat or air conditioning accordingly. In business, it is crucial to have a method of keeping score in place that provides early warning signals so you can make the appropriate adjustments.

A doctor uses a person’s vital signs to keep score on how the body is performing and if any attention is needed. Scales help people know if they are maintaining their desired weight. What are the vital signs for your business? Can you identify and measure them with the same degree of accuracy as a blood pressure gauge or a set of scales?

Keeping score helps break goals into bite-sized chunks. This promotes confidence when people think and say,“I can do that.”Knowing that you are winning at small goals helps build momentum and increase your opportunities to accomplish larger goals.

Keeping score provides trends and direction. Where you are now is important. Even more important is what direction you are moving and at what speed. Knowing trends and direction helps reduce the chance of surprises and uncertainty. increased certainty enhances confidence and increased confidence promotes increased success.

Keeping score helps you celebrate successes. One response to seeing the score is, “Hooray!“When you reinforce “Hooray,”progress and success are reinforced. Reinforcing progress and success creates a motivational environment that leads to more progress and success.

Keeping score can help you take corrective action. Another response to seeing the score is,“Oh no.”Following“Oh no”situations with a corrective plano faction of additional training and coaching reduces future “Oh no’s.”

Keeping score enhances change. Keeping score creates insight and insight precedes change. When you know where you stand and what direction you are heading, you can set new goals, adjust your behavior, and produce new or better results.

Keeping score improves accountability. When a good score keeping system is in place,people can run,but they can’t hide.

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One day my daughter and I were playing basketball in our driveway with some of the neighborhood boys. Lindsay was nine and hadn’t shown much athletic prowess yet. When the boys tired of the game, Lindsay said to me, “I’m not very good, am I dad?” Her shoulders were slumped and her chin was in her chest. I could not bear seeing her feeling bad about herself and her ability.

I said, “Sure you are”, threw her the basketball and encouraged her to take more shots. After several misses, she made a basket and I said out loud, “That’s one.” She was startled, but continued to shoot. When she made another basket, I said, “Two”, and continued to count aloud as she made additional baskets. In about 10 minutes, she had made 8 or 9 baskets. Now, her shoulders were back, her chin was up, and she said with a big smile, “I’m pretty good, ain’t I dad?”

During the 10 minutes, I did not offer any shooting tips, I just kept score. Lindsay played organized basketball from the fourth grade through high school, was the leading scorer on her high school team, and made the All-District team. What a difference 10 minutes and keeping score made. Listed below are four scorekeeping principles that will help you get greater results personally and in your business when you keep score.

Keep it simple. If keeping score requires too many or complicated calculations or takes too much time, people will be reluctant to keep score. Remember the KISS principle — Keep It Short and Simple.

Keep it visual. A common thought is that a picture is worth a thousand words. Likewise a graph can be worth a thousand words or numerous columns of numbers. Visual scorekeeping means displaying the score prominently as well as graphically.

Keep it objective. In most sporting events, the score is rarely, if ever, in dispute. The same kind of certainty and objectivity is needed in business scorekeeping. A subjective goal such as improved communication or morale can be quantified by answering the questions, “What will be different when communication is improved?” or “…when morale is improved?” For example, there might be less mistakes, improved quality, improved attendance or improved employee retention.

You can also use the electronic scoreboard concept. If you had an electronic scoreboard at the end of your work area, what would you put on it to know that you are winning?

Keep it current. Most things in life are better when they are fresh. The same is true with scorekeeping in business. Week-old, or even day-old, numbers are not as good as ‘freshly-baked,” same-day numbers.

The main purpose of keeping score is to improve performance and results. Make sure you use your scorekeeping system to solve problems, not to find fault. Once problems are identified and defined, use the insight you gain from keeping score to decide what corrective action is needed.

Computers have given business leaders better access and more information to operate their businesses. When you use this information to keep score, you can make remarkable improvements in performance and results.

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