The company knew they had to do something. Customer satisfaction ratings were dropping, employee turnover was rising, and nobody wanted to talk about morale. Serious competition was looming. A group of leaders were appointed to do something about the situation and to do it fast. Meeting after meeting produced idea after idea. Consultants were hired, and a final decision was reached. "We’ll create a video that tells everyone why they should be happy that they work here," they decided. "We’ll prove that the future’s bright by showing our grandly produced video to everyone. Spare no expense," they said. "Just get it done."
So, the script was written, the actors were hired, and the locations scouted. Production began and money was spent. The final version was shown to the executive team and they beamed at each other. This would do it; things would change now. After all, they had spared no expense.
Employees were ushered into the meeting room and given plastic cups filled with sparkling grape juice. The lights dimmed and the video began. The music was powerful and the videography impressive. The leaders sitting in the front of the room led the applause and raised their glasses in a toast to the renewed commitment they were certain everyone in attendance felt. People filed out of the room talking about their weekend plans. That’s when I heard one of the participants say, "I can’t believe they’re trying to get us to put our hats back on with that crap!"
No one else seemed to hear his comment. Curious, I followed him out of the building and asked, "What hat?"
"Oh," he replied offhandedly, "When I first started, fifteen years ago, we all had hats with the company’s name and logo. I was like most guys; we wore them all the time. We wanted everyone to know where we worked. We were proud to work here. I haven’t worn my hat for a long time."
Many organizations, in an attempt to improve morale, spend dollars, time, and energy externally and forget that morale is an inside job. Please don’t ask consultants to help you improve morale in your organization. Start by asking this question yourself of the people on your team, really listen to the answers, and go to work.