The impact on the company when morale is low can be obvious in terms of productivity, client service and top employee retention, but often managers are at a loss as to how to improve it, and some can be unaware of the impact they themselves are having in its decline.  Without respect, trust, consideration and effective communication to every individual in the team, morale will head in a downward spiral, one employee at a time.

Here’s a few examples of how to successfully reduce team morale:

  • Micro-managing – if your every move is being checked you don’t feel trusted by your manager, your believe that your abilities are questioned constantly.
  • Setting unattainable goals – failing at the goals that have been set is a quick way for employees to feel dissatisfied with their job and their own abilities.
  • Never recognising success – one of the fundamental human needs is to feel valued and recognised for their contribution.
  • Having favourites – all employees are watching your every move as a manager and they will easily spot if someone is getting more favourable treatment than others, which can lead to a sense of unfairness in every aspect of their working relationship.
  • Blaming others – not only is this unfair to all involved, but employees will stop trusting a manager who doesn’t take responsibility for their own mistakes.  How can team members feel comfortable to make mistakes and learn from them with this culture being lead by their manager?
  • Taking credit – as above, loss of trust is instant when a manager takes full credit for others’ ideas and successes.
  • Embarrassing people in public – whether this is directed at the individual involved or a member of their team, this does not instil trust or respect and can cause stress about opening up to a manager if a mistake has been spotted.
  • Threatening their jobs – fear and anxiety causes stress, which in turn reduces creativity and increases errors.  Additionally, no-one wants to feel like they are just a number in a team and they are easily replaced.
  • Dishonesty – although it’s not always possible as a manager to divulge all sensitive information, there is never any need to lie about it.  Also, you should never make promises you cannot keep, or commit to rewards (such as promotions or salary increases) that are not finalised.
  • Giving vague instructions – one of the greatest frustrations for many employees in any industry is a lack of clarity about their expectations and responsibilities, and if they then fail in the task it makes things even worse.
  • Being too busy to listen – investing time and resources into your employee will improve their individual morale, but also ensures that your team members are encouraged to come to you with issues that you should be aware of in a timely manner.

The list is very general, but each are worth reviewing and avoiding, so that your team members want to come into the office and participate fully in the organisation’s goals for success.  Great leadership skills and effective communication skills will encourage and boost morale, but as you can see from this list, it can be easily destroyed too.

Are there any other common themes that you can add to this list?

If you would like to find out how developing your leadership and communication skills will help improve morale, motivation and engagement in your team, go to




  1. Pingback: Is A Bad Boss Good For You? | Assiem

  2. admin

    Thanks to Giuseppe Colombi on Linked In:

    Hi Karen

    I read somewhere that if companies got rid of managers altogether, they would be a lot more successful (plus improve their cashflow).

    I am not too sure whether in the UK there is a school on how to be a good manager, but if not there should be one. It is a difficult job because the manager needs to please the Directors and the employees at the same time. I don’t envy their job, but generally I don’t like managers for all the reasons mentioned in the article. We do not have managers in my firm, although it is only 5 of us, but I have no intention of creating a managerial position.

  3. admin

    Thanks to Mina Odavi? on Linked In:

    Hi Karen,

    Thought-provoking question and interesting article. I don’t necessarily think morale-building is top of a manager’s priority list. I’d also say it depends a lot on company structure and the culture within the office. In my experience the easiest way to destroy morale is failing to lead by example,

  4. admin

    Thanks Guiseppe and Mina for your comments. A manager who isn’t helping their team effectively can have such a negative impact unfortunately. However, there are alot of managers who want to do a good job and with a little self-awareness and support can make a real difference to their teams and the results for customers etc. In my view, helping organisations to become aware of and buy-in to the importance of good managers is key, so that budget and a real understanding of how best to support them becomes part of the culture.

  5. admin

    Thanks to Andrea Barry on Linked In:

    It is key to a manager’s success to be positive and constructive when cascading information or tasks to his or her team. If the manager communicates in a manner that is negative, defeatist or reluctant because they disagree with or don’t like the task this should not be fed through to the team. A good manager will inspire the team and while it’s not a popularity contest, their team should respect the manager for being a positive and effective influence on their success as a team and individuals.

    Well done Karen, again you get to the heart of what matters.

    Guiseppe, if you have a really small and tight team, they are managers in their own right, so you probably don’t need someone sitting above them; you are already in that role.

    Managers provide guidance, support and focus on the job. If they aren’t doing that in a positive and constructive way, they must change or be changed.

  6. admin

    Thanks to Deborah Chowney on Linked In:
    Interesting. I actually had a senior manager that followed the ‘how not to’ regime to the letter.

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