Many things can bring workplace morale spiraling downward.  Some all-too-common Morale Busters in law offices (and other offices as well)  include:

  • Rules applied sporadically and unfairly among employees (e.g. starting time, length of lunch breaks, # of vacation days)
  • An ongoing frantic pace — day after day — caused primarily by a supervisor’s poor planning and organizational skills … leadership should step in sooner than later to coach, train and/or mentor these folks….of which the legal profession and many others have a costly excess!
  • Guilt trips over personal, sick or vacation time taken (see NBJ 2002 Lawyers USA column on how vacation policies …and attitudes… mirror a firm’s culture)
  • Thinking that “real” lawyers always work a 60+ hour week and lacking the wisdom to understand that the most productive and satisfied employee lives a balanced and healthy life style (e.g. In addition to encouraging healthy behaviors, consider providing an exercise room for employees — even a small one with one treadmill and an aerobics workout video is better than none — and 10 minutes of exercise can rejuvenate energy levels far better than pouring on the caffeine)
  • Frequent start/stops of promised (and needed) changes — too often not completing projects begun
  • Allowing tensions or outright conflicts between partners or other employees to go unresolved for an unreasonable length of time (If they refuse to resolve their differences in a timely and responsible manner, firm leadership should mandate a resolution via the use of a firm ombudsman, mediator or the like — Every employee should have access to excellent resources such as Stewart Levine’s 2nd Edition of Getting To Resolution — eye-opening, thought-provoking and packed with simple and wise conflict resolution tips)
  • Little or no constructive feedback given to employees in a timely manner
  • Assuming staff have no personal plans after normal working hours and that they will always work overtime on short notice (the poison to morale of this culprit escalates in direct relation to poor planning and/or procrastination by supervising personnel)
  • Acceptance by leadership of loud, abrasive, demeaning and other bully like behaviors
  • A noticeable lack of common courtesies shown to employees (Good Morning greetings, showing appreciation, etc.)
  • An absence of well deserved bonuses from cash to creative “Job Well Done” gifts (e.g. childcare fees paid for a week, dinner and other gift certificates, “free” personal days off, firm-wide recognition for achievements, etc.)
  • Not holding regular staff meetings and if they are held, failing to give it our full, undivided attention (e.g. no looking at our watches or mobile phones, no shuffling of files around on our desks, etc.)
  • Attorneys not taking the time to personally introduce staff members who will be working on the case to new clients
  • Expecting top notch work quality produced at a 90 mph pace in spite of outdated equipment and software, unclear instructions, and/or insufficient training
  • Romantic relationships between supervisors and subordinates giving the presumption — if not the actuality of —  unfair advantages for the participating employee
  • Never (or too rarely) sending employees to appropriate work-related seminars or workshops for training and networking purposes
  • Not providing the right kind and adequate amounts of training needed for new software, systems, etc.
  • Talking negatively about employees (directly or within earshot) to other employees
  • Failing to put an end to an employee’s chronically negative attitude either through mentoring, discipline or termination (firing should, of course, be the last resort after all other reasonable efforts to correct the situation)
  • All work 24/7 day after day after day….Never making the time for non-work related group activities (e.g. sporting events, cookouts, community group volunteer projects)

A few Morale Boosters include:

  • Not allowing any of the above morale busters or others to exist in your office; and …
  • when they or other morale busters do occasionally show up, acting quickly and decisively to rid your office of these progress, morale and productivity thieves

Happy Weekend everyone and I hope you go into work on Monday ready to try out some new morale boosters! We all function far better in a positive environment regardless of our type of work, title or years of service.   As always, thanks for visiting my blog.

Nancy (& Jessie, our resident Tennessee Walker comedian!)

About the author 

Nancy Byerly Jones

Nancy Byerly Jones and her husband reside on their mountainside ranch (“Little Hee Haw Farm”) with an energetic “family” of horses, donkeys (large and miniature), dogs and cats. Their favorite pastime is sharing the joy and fun of their animals and ranch life with their family, friends and clients.

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