CIPD People Performance Consultants

Who cares about staff morale?

The damaging impact of an autocratic management culture….

You could possibly understand the autocratic view on leadership held by the original Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch in the Game of Thrones series ;‘’If they don’t fear you they won’t follow you’. After all, it was set in 297 AD. What is of much more concern is the evidence of such an outdated view by today’s leaders, some 1700 years later. Only last month did I work with a CEO of a clinical company who openly expressed his motto ‘fear and intimidation breeds discipline’ to me, right before I left his Head Office and vowed never to return.

Autocratic leaders generally fail to see the need for consultation, two way communication or collaboration with their workforce. They will actively enforce their authority, make all the decisions, operate close supervision systems and retain ultimate control over their people and projects.

The problem with this style of management in the workplace that is it starts with a belief that staff are inherently lazy, untrustworthy, incompetent and uncommitted, which is conversely exactly what they will then become under such a management culture. It prohibits innovation, creativity, delegation and empowerment and ownership- all pre-requisites of employee engagement.

And even when company owners can confidently state the absence of such an attitude in their business leaders, they may still be missing the point. For example companies that utilise IT policies to control employee behaviour through restricting web traffic and access to social networking, that monitors emails and messages, are subconsciously suggesting the expectation of disloyal behaviour, and ultimately create an atmosphere of paranoia and mistrust that can drive employees to become secretive and disengaged.

It’s quite simple. If staff aren’t engaged then they aren’t productive. And having managed human beings for over 10 years, I can say with total certainty that you’d rather have your employees engaged than not.  Any competent manager will advise the same.  Mindset and attitude matter. Staff engagement is ultimately a measurement of an employee’s emotional commitment to their role and the organisation- would you rather have a committed employee who genuinely cares about your business and is willing to go the extra mile or would you prefer one who’s indifferent? No brainer. Commitment breeds motivation.  Motivation breeds effort and hard work. If your staff work harder, they’ll be more productive for the business. So yes, if you care about productivity in your organisation, you should probably care about staff morale first.