Building Staff Morale

There’s no denying that staff morale is a big factor in productiveness and corporate culture. In most organizations, regardless of size (unless you work alone of course), you are probably going to encounter personalities that may not match perfectly with your own. And you not only have to deal with that, but you also need to get along. The real estate game is no exception. 


In my role I oversee a state and national office full of individuals with individual personalities, and then of course every CENTURY 21 franchisee in this country is managing their own business where another group of different people need to collaborate every day. Managers are acutely aware of the issues that can arise when a group of possibly very different people need to come together and function as a team, or at least they should be! The need to get along for the greater good of a business is what has spawned the team building phenomenon, and I have to say it’s a concept that I consider with more than a touch of bewilderment.  


I find the best way to build morale amongst my team is to stay out of the office as much as possible, but it seems many a corporation out there insists on bringing their staff together in a range of activities ultimately designed to build camaraderie, but which often result in a winners versus losers situation. I for one do not see how pitting the staff you want to get along with each other against each other is going to have a positive outcome. Surely in no work environment is it a good idea to highlight the “losers”, which essentially is the outcome of the majority of team building exercises. 


Did you know there was once a team building exercise run by a Californian home security company (Alarm One Inc) which resulted in a court case after the employees actually sued the firm! So much for everyone loving a team building exercise. The “team building” in question was essentially a contest pitting sales teams against each other, during which rival teams were swatted with the company’s yard signs (on that note - can you imagine CENTURY 21 real estate agents beating each other with our yard arms?? We’d be up for murder!) and the losers were then forced to eat baby food and wear nappies. The result? The employees sued, and the company was forced to pay them $1.7 million (USD). Not exactly a great day of morale building!  


It’s great to have a feeling of competition in the workplace, but it should be a contest for your staff to do their best, and a feeling that’s pitted against your real competition out in the marketplace – not against each other internally. Encouraging activities when some employees are made to feel lesser than their coworkers is likely to have the exact opposite effect of what you were trying to promote in the first place. 


At the end of the day, you can’t force people to like each other, but you can encourage a feeling of teamwork and cooperation through communication and non-competitive team building activities like a staff BBQ – inflatable Sumo suits are rendered totally useless! Knocking off an hour early for Friday drinks (with responsible service of course) can also do wonders to get departments together and it gives employees the opportunity to interact in a non-threatening and social environment. 

 In fact, I might just tell everyone to knock off for a brewski now!   

Posted by Charles Tarbey on 23/03/2009 at 8:30 AM | Categories:

1 Comments wrote on 18/05/2009 6:24 AM

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