Things were looking hopeful for the Leafs as they entered into the third period with a 4-1 lead against Boston. This is the team that, against all odds, made an incredible comeback in the series and made it to the long-awaited game seven. Leaf fans everywhere held their breath as the clock ticked away. Suddenly, Boston came back with three unanswered goals – leveling up the score to 4-4. Overtime. At this point, fans were on the edge of their seats, biting their nails, scared to blink. The win that seemed to be just within grasp was slowly slipping away. Six minutes into overtime and it happened – Boston scored the winning goal.
There was a noticeable lull at the Clear Path lunch table the following afternoon. Claims consultant and die-hard Leafs fan Kelly Auld felt it the most: "My initial emotion when Boston scored was anger – how can they give up a 4-1 lead in 10 minutes only to lose in overtime? That emotion was quickly replaced with heartbreak – realizing that I no longer have a team to follow in the playoffs." Players and fans alike both felt the aftermath of the devastating game seven loss.
What do you do when a similar situation is experienced in the workplace? Whether your team has just lost a large contract or you’ve had to make significant layoffs in one department, there’s no denying that these situations have negative repercussions on employee morale.
The significance of morale
According to sociologist Alexander Leighton, “morale is the capacity of a group of people to pull together persistently and consistently in pursuit of a common purpose.” Organizations that are plagued with low morale tend to experience lower levels of productivity and engagement, and higher rates of turnover and absenteeism. You can pretty much chalk it up to higher morale = happier workforce.
Re-building morale, where do you start?
So your organization has just suffered a recent defeat and employee confidence and morale is quickly decreasing. What do you do? Developing a strategy for these types of situations can help to make a difficult time like this easier. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Make communication central: Making an increased effort to go around and speak with each of your employees is crucial during a time of defeat or loss. Giving everyone accurate, clear, and timely information about what is happening also helps to eliminate the spreading of rumours which can have a huge negative impact on morale.
Build confidence through empowerment: Employee confidence can take a huge dive when suffering a company loss – whether it is a failed project or a lost contract. For this reason, it is crucial to re-build that confidence as quickly as possible to keep morale and productivity up. One way this can be done successfully is by empowering your employees to make more decisions – push them towards challenging but achievable goals, offer more autonomy, and encourage creative thinking. Investing in your employees and helping them to improve their skills also helps to create a higher sense of security and commitment to the company. Be sure to offer opportunities for continual learning and development.
Appreciate employees and celebrate the positives: Recognizing accomplishments in the workplace, both large and small, helps to make employees feel appreciated and valued. Something as small as leaving personal voicemails, short notes of encouragement and feedback, or spontaneous snacks and socials can do wonders when it comes to boosting employee morale. Establishing attainable goals that will earn quick wins will boost confidence quickly and has the power to completely change the attitude in your workplace.
Losses happen - it’s how you respond to them that makes the biggest impact. Regardless of the situation, there’s always something that can be learned or gained from defeat. Clear Path consultant Kelly Auld had these last words about the Leafs-Boston game:
After those feelings of anger and heartbreak after the loss, my final feeling was one of pride – for such a young team to perform as well as they did, when everyone said they wouldn’t have any chance of making the playoffs, was amazing. They crawled back from a 3-1 series deficit when everyone expected them to be swept in 4 games. At the end of the day, I love this game, I love this team, and I bleed blue. What they demonstrated is what playoff hockey is all about.
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