Can You Measure Morale
From Programmer 97-things
Building The Morale On Your Team
David Bock Reston, Virginia, USA
A major role for the software project manager is to create a work environment that fosters the growth of team morale. Here are some tips to help you start that process.
• Give your team some control over the direction of the project. Do you talk with your team frequently? Do you regularly seek out their input? Can someone make a suggestion, or bring a complaint to you, and feel like you will actively work to effect a change because of it?
• Defend your team against “the bureaucracy”. Every organization has its share of rules, and one of your jobs is to apply them in context. “In context” means that, when appropriate, you will defend your team.
When a corporate memo comes out with rules banning cubicle decorations, will you argue with management so Bill can keep his Rubick’s Cube collection on display? Even if you lose, the team’s morale will benefit.
• Look for ways to improve the work environment. I knew an engineer who worked in a cubicle next to a window. But, according to the company organizational chart, he didn’t warrant a window office. Corporate solution? The cubicles were re-configured so that the window in his work space was blocked. Rather than argue with the “furniture police”, a good manager would be the first person to start moving those cubicle walls to uncover that window.
• Make your team feel like a team. One team had a Player of the Week Award that changed hands at the team meeting each week. Russ might say, “I’m giving Mary the team player award because she worked late Thursday night. I was late getting her the documentation, but thanks to her efforts, we still finished the iteration Friday morning”. The next week, Mary would recognize another team member’s contribution and pass along the award.
• Respect the work-life balance. It is alright to demand overtime from people occasionally, but if you are going to take time from their lives, you need to give some back. Your employees shouldn’t be afraid to schedule a morning doctor appointment or attend child’s afternoon recital, especially after they’ve worked late to meet a deadline.
• Understand how cause and effect shapes morale. When you merely try to recreate what motivated you or others on past teams, you may be missing the key elements. If you ask yourself, “What can I do to improve working conditions of my team?” and actually work to make those changes, morale will usually improve.
• Make sure your activities are visible. You are a team member too, so the team should be aware of the work you are doing for them. It is easy to distrust a manager who is always behind a closed door, and easy to follow one who is openly, visibly working for the good of the team.
In your organization there will be unique opportunities to improve morale. Consciously look for them and take advantage of them. If they work, share them with others.