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Is Your Team Starting to Look Like 'The Walking Dead'? 3 Ways to Resurrect Team Morale.

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Fall is finally in the air here in California. And along with turning leaves and today's celebration of Halloween, this time of year brings another tradition -- the Gallup employee engagement survey data. And from the looks of it, Wes Craven might as well have penned this year’s report.

The Walking Dead | AMC Official Website

The data showed that 68 percent of workers surveyed reported that they weren't engaged at their jobs. That number was just 5 percent lower than last’s year’s poll -- reflecting that the problem isn’t getting any better.

Related: 6 Keys to Employee Engagement During Times of Distraction

In fact -- speaking of Halloween -- the report would have you believe that your team is pretty much The Walking Dead

If you're a manager, this information might leave you scratching your head on what exactly to do to improve morale. After all, you pay people well, you have a nice office space, you even bring in lunch every week. What more could people want?

Truth is, sometimes a few small changes will help improve morale in a big way. Here are a few places to start:

1. Listen. 

What is the common piece of advice you hear over and over from top CEOs? “Listen more.”  For me, as a company leader, there is nothing more valuable than listening directly to my team and getting a pulse for myself on the mood and energy of the business. Not only do I get great insight on things that are working or need to be improved, but letting employees know their opinion is valued goes a long way for improving "engagement" -- all the way up through the top levels of our organization. 

Related: Employee Engagement Is More Important Than the Customer

2. Give frequent feedback.

This may sound counterintuitive, but in actuality, most employees really want to learn and get better. Regular feedback is the fastest mechanism to achieve this. Not only does it give employees a chance to improve, but also demonstrates that you are invested in their ongoing career growth and success. On the flip side, "feedback" should also include positive feedback.

Never underestimate how far a good old-fashioned “thank you” or acknowledgement of a job well done can go. As Richard Branson said, “Train people well enough so they can leave; treat them well enough so they don't want to.”

3. Encourage healthy risks. 

Innovate, disrupt, re-think. These are all key phrases in leadership buzzword bingo these days. Yet, all too often, companies don’t create a culture that really empowers people to take the healthy risks needed to bring about this kind of change. Speaking from personal experience, I was once fired for speaking my mind and challenging the status quo at one of my previous employers.

You never know where the next great idea in your company might come from. So, it’s critical that leaders create a culture where employees know they will be heard and, more importantly, supported in seeing their ideas through to fruition.

Culture is the new corporate currency, and to engage employees, you need to demonstrate that they are valued and appreciated. By changing the way any of us approach our staff, I believe we can ensure that team morale is resurrected and engagement restored. 

Related: For True Employee Engagement, Follow These 6 Steps

Christopher Cabrera

Written By

Christopher W. Cabrera, founder and CEO of Xactly Corporation, is a noted industry expert in issues relating to sales performance management, sales compensation and enterprise and on-demand/software-as-a-service delivery models. He was named the 2011 “Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year” by the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the USC Marshall School of Business. Cabrera is the author of Game the Plan (River Grove Books, 2014) and co-author of Xactly Sales Compensation for Dummies (Wiley Publishing, 2006).