American Express Open Forum – December 28, 2011

There’s more to being a boss than just telling people what to do. It’s about building a rapport and fostering a real relationship with your employees, so that you trust each other and can get things done.

Unfortunately, many managers don’t care about their employees’ morale, and spur them on by any means necessary. They fail to realize that it all has an impact on how well your company runs, and can have a major impact on your productivity, ability to retain talent and your bottom line.

There’s no one-size-fits-all method, since every company has a a different corporate culture and every manager has their own unique style. But there are things that should be avoided in most situations if you want employees not to hate coming to work every day.

Here are nine guaranteed ways to completely ruin employee morale. Many of them come down to two basic ideals: treat your employees with respect and dignity, and that’s how they’ll treat you back.

1. Not accepting responsibility for mistakes

The blame game can ruin a company’s workplace. If a subordinate makes a mistake, the blame shouldn’t fall solely on him or her—it’s on the whole team. That includes the others working on the project, and the person in charge of them.

Frequently, the boss refuses to accept responsibility for their worker’s mistakes and dumps all the blame on the single person, and that can ruin not only their morale, but make their colleagues timid and fearful.

2. Calling employees out in public

There’s no reason to put people on the spot publicly. Don’t try to teach people a lesson or make an example of them—they aren’t children. Instead, pull them aside and deal with the situation in private. Public embarrassment can only serve to make employees scornful and ruin the office environment.

3. Dishonesty

Tell your employees the truth, always. It’s okay to keep things from your employees if they’re sensitive topics, but never lie to your employees about them or their nature.

This includes promises that you make to your workers. Honor the rewards that you’ve committed to (like a promotion or raise you promised), because once you start down that slippery slope, it’s difficult to ever earn that trust back. Employees will never work to their full potential for someone that they don’t trust…

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