How does an HR department implement/change the climate of a low morale business?
--Looking for a lift
A Dear Looking:
The good news? People can--and DO--have tremendous impact on the experiences, expectations, and ultimate "morale" of other people.
The bad news? This impact simply cannot be driven by organizational structures or functional responsibilities. It has to be the product of real people making real choices with a sense of leadership, purpose, and commitment.
Since the HR department is often charged with being the "human conscience" of many business organizations, it may be assumed that HR should handle issues of morale. The truth is, morale is a reflection of shared culture, and culture is more directly impacted by executive leadership than any other single functional area.
Leaders' decisions (whether conscious or otherwise) on how to think, speak, and behave are amplified over time and distance--continuously shaping, modeling, and conditioning the responses and choices of people throughout the organization.
HR's legitimate role, in this case, is to frame the morale issue in terms that create a compelling business case for executives to stop, notice, and really pay attention to the true costs and missed opportunities of having an operational culture that leaves people feeling dispirited, disenfranchised and de-motivated. The costs go well beyond those associated with training and turnover, and have strategic implications involving the enterprise's ability to satisfy customers, innovate products and solutions, and sustain a competitive level of responsiveness in a world of challenge and opportunity.
There is a new generation of assessment instruments emerging that can help you to frame your case in very clear and pragmatic terms, providing both a baseline for evaluating your business' current state, and a way to gauge progress and impact over time. In addition to looking into such options, you should also be very conscious of the leadership role YOU can play in modeling the kinds of behaviors that inspire in others (including YOUR leaders!) a more responsible and productive relationship with possibility.
The difference you make will not depend on your organizational position or authority, but on your authenticity, conviction, and perseverance. Good luck!
SOURCE: Randall Alford, vice president of Product & Service Integrity for ARC Worldwide, a leadership development and consulting firm that operates throughout the United States and Asia.
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