14 MIN READ
Top 10 Personal Morale Boosters
Stay Happy and Productive at Work
Sima used to look forward to going into work when she first started at her company. She'd always arrive with a smile on her face, ready for the day and willing to help out. She put in extra hours, went above and beyond to meet her targets, and enjoyed socializing with her colleagues.
Just recently, however, Sima's been struggling to stay positive. She feels tired all the time and has to force herself to get out of bed in the morning. Every task, no matter how simple, has begun to feel like a chore, and she procrastinates – even on important projects. She also feels increasingly disconnected from her co-workers, and has stopped going out for team "get-togethers."
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How to Reboot Your Morale
Perhaps, like Sima, you feel as though you've lost your way at work. If so, don't worry, you're not alone. According to employment research company Gallup, less than a third of U.S. employees are "involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work."
It's inevitable that our morale might dip occasionally. After all, we're only human. But simply ignoring the problem and hoping that it will go away is unlikely to work, and may even make things worse. Actively rebooting your morale, on the other hand, can have a number of advantages.
Research has shown that people who are motivated and have job satisfaction tend to be more productive and creative, and are better at problem solving, than those who don't. They will also more likely develop stronger relationships, perform better under pressure, and gain the recognition and respect of their colleagues.
So, if you're feeling "down in the dumps," read on to discover our top 10 tips for putting the spring back in your step.
1. Get to the Root of the Problem
If you're struggling to stay positive, it's time to ask yourself why.
Perhaps you no longer feel challenged at work, or there's a lack of promotion opportunities. Maybe your confidence has been knocked by a poor appraisal, or you feel as though there's a lack of constructive feedback at your company. You could be reeling from the departure of a favorite colleague who's now moved on, or perhaps a difficult project has been dragging on and is getting you down.
It might be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of your low morale. If this is the case, try the 5 Whys technique or Cause and Effect Analysis, both of which can help you to understand and solve complicated problems.
Take our quiz to gain a better understanding of how self-motivated you are, and to find out what factors motivate you the most.
2. Find Meaning and Purpose
Ask yourself, what does your job mean to you? Does the work that you do align with your values? Do you feel satisfied at the end of the working day?
If you're struggling to find meaning or pleasure in your work, or if you feel that your job lacks purpose, take some time to reassess your role using the Meaning, Pleasure, Strengths (MPS) Process. This will help you to identify work that you find worthwhile and that makes you happy. Shaping your role around projects that interest and engage you will mean that they become less of a chore and more of a passion.
Perhaps you feel as though your values no longer align with your role. If this is the case, don't panic. It doesn't automatically mean that you are in the wrong job, just that you might be thinking about it in the wrong way.
Find purpose in your work by helping out a co-worker. Take a step back to look at how your job and your organization positively impacts society. Perhaps your company is engaged in charity work or provides a helpful service to the local community. Finding the good in your role can give you a sense of renewed purpose and can help you to rediscover the value of your work.
Also instead of concentrating on what, at times, can feel like a never-ending To-Do List, keep a note of the tasks that you achieve each day. This will give you a clearer picture of the value that you bring to your organization, and you can leave work each day feeling satisfied that you have made a worthwhile contribution.
3. Don't Get Stuck in a Rut
When you're stuck in a rut, it's easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Ask yourself what direction you want your career to go in, and where you hope to be in one, three or even five years' time. Set yourself short-, medium- and long-term goals to help you to achieve those ambitions.
For example, if your long-term goal is to head up your division, you might need to gain experience of managing a budget or presenting to the board. Put together an Action Plan to gain the skills that you need to get the job of your dreams. This will give you a sense of purpose, and it will also help you to put things in perspective and to keep you on track for career success!
4. Ask for Feedback
Feeling uncertain about how well you're doing can knock your confidence, and can make you feel demotivated and down. It's easy to get caught up in a cycle of worry and negativity, particularly if you stay silent about how you feel. So, instead, be proactive. Ask colleagues and clients for regular feedback. It might seem daunting at first, but it's essential if you want to improve your skills and develop professionally – and you never know, you might be pleasantly surprised!
The next time you finish a piece of work, ask your manager how you did and how you could improve next time. He or she will be impressed with your initiative, and you'll gain confidence from getting the recognition that you deserve.
At the same time, it's good to be prepared to receive constructive criticism. If you do get negative feedback, don't dwell on it – learn from it. You can do this by examining the positive and negative aspects of feedback with the help of the Feedback Matrix, and then by using the results to achieve positive, long-lasting change.
5. Learn Something New
Has your daily routine become predictable? Instead of concentrating on achieving your objectives, do you end up feeling bored, procrastinating and giving in to distractions? This can make you feel disengaged from your work, and lead you further away from your career objectives.
Step outside your comfort zone by taking on a new role within your organization. Perhaps you could offer to help a co-worker doing a different job, or devote some time to learning a new skill. Tell your manager that you are on the lookout for a new challenge, and ask your HR or L&D department about training and development opportunities
It's important to stay challenged at work and to push yourself to try new things. If you don't, your skills and knowledge may begin to stagnate, and you might even start to be passed over for new responsibilities.
6. Build Your Network
You likely work with the same people day in, day out. But how well do you really know them?
Taking time to strengthen your connections at work can benefit both you and your organization. Not only can positive working relationships help to build your network of useful contacts, but they can also elevate your mood and boost your productivity. You'll likely enjoy your time at work more if you know that you have a team that you get on with and that you can rely on. It can also really help to lift your spirits, even on those "down days."
Work on developing your people skills. Find out about a team member's weekend, ask meaningful questions, and make sure that you really listen to his responses. Offer to meet him for coffee to get to know him better, and attend networking events with people who you share interests with. You never know what doors may open for you as a result of your new connections.
Low morale doesn't only affect individuals. It can be easy for negativity to spread through a team or even through an entire organization, particularly if it has recently undergone a painful change such as layoffs or a difficult project. If you notice that your team's morale is low, you need to address it quickly and put a strategy in place to rebuild it.
7. Find Inspiration
Read autobiographies and blogs written by the people who you admire the most. These might include people in your industry, experts working in your field, or even a particular politician or sports star that you look up to.
Having good role models can give you focus, and can prompt you to take action in your career by drawing on their example.
If you are still looking for inspiration, seek out a professional career or life coach, or try using positive affirmations. These can be particularly useful if you suffer from recurring, negative thoughts, and they can help you to make positive adjustments to the areas of your life that you wish to change.
Take a look at our extensive collection of Book Insight and Expert Interview podcasts featuring business authors across the world. They contain some great tips on how to achieve your career goals and are a great source of inspiration.
8. Shake Up Your Routine
Routines help us to stay centered, by providing structure and familiarity to our days. However, the monotony of our daily routine can sometimes wear us down. Change can be scary, and it's all too easy to stick to the routines that we know best.
But when you engage in a new activity, your brain makes new connections that can help you to think about problems in a more innovative and creative way. So don't be afraid to mix things up a bit.
Even small changes, like taking an alternative route to work, reading a different newspaper, or completing your daily tasks in a different order, can break up the monotony of your day-to-day routine, and help you to make new discoveries and keep things fresh.
9. Make Improvements
Long-winded processes and systems that don't work properly drain our energy and can make us procrastinate.
So whether it's a faulty printer or an over-complicated work process, make a concerted effort to tackle it head on. A more efficient approach will make your life easier and free you up to focus on more meaningful work.
Perhaps it's not a process but a particular team member or colleague who's been bothering you. If so, it might be time to finally tackle that difficult co-worker who habitually spoils your day. Practice assertiveness and, if necessary, speak up.
10. Treat Yourself
When we feel down, the smallest thing can cheer us back up again.
Rewards – no matter how small – can make all of your hard work feel worthwhile. So when you achieve a goal (even a little one), treat yourself with a cup of your favorite coffee or lunch at your favorite restaurant. For larger projects, a fun day out or even a vacation can act as a powerful incentive to keep heading in the right direction.
Choose treats that are proportionate to your goals and that you'll look forward to. The more you reward yourself for honestly made progress, the more motivated you will be to fulfil your long-term goals.
No one can feel positive all the time. But prolonged low morale can make us feel lethargic, slow and disengaged.
It can be easy to ignore the reason behind your low mood and hope that it just goes away by itself, but doing this is only avoiding the real issue. It's much better to take control by identifying the cause of your low morale and tackling it head on.
Try to find meaning in your role by setting some long-term goals, asking for feedback, and learning new skills. Search out inspiration and guidance from positive role models, build your network of connections, and don't be afraid to try something new. Most importantly, go easy on yourself. Take time to relax and treat yourself, particularly at the end of a hard day's work.
Apply This to Your Life:
Choose something that you can do in the next week to boost your morale. Whether it's reading an inspirational book, downloading a motivational podcast, or going for coffee with a new colleague, set yourself a morale-boosting goal now and go for it.
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