Once you hit the leadership ranks, all eyes are on you. That's because for your employees, they use you as a barometer of how things are going. They look to you for clues on the stability of their employment.
For that reason, you have a greater impact on employee morale than you may realize.
What you do, what you say, what you don't say - has an impact on your employees. Like it or not, intentional or not.
Here are leadership behaviors that can sway employee morale in the wrong direction. If you find yourself doing any of them - intentional or not - you now know why morale is lower than it should be.
1. Annual Performance Reviews
No other way to put this one: Annual performance reviews are archaic and destroy morale. They scream to employees that you're documenting their shortcomings to fire them when convenient.
2. Secret Spot Checks
Be open and honest when you're spot-checking employee performance. Don't go behind their back. It comes across as a witch hunt and makes employees second guess themselves.
3. Silence / Seclusion / Avoidance
Sometimes you have the weight of the world on your shoulders and you want to hide. Don't do it. Employees will read far too much into this.
4. Emotional Detachment
At times, your responsibilities will be so much that you detach from the business to preserve your own sanity. As hard as it will be, don't detach emotionally from your employees.
5. Emotional Outbursts
If you're stressed or prone to emotional outbursts, your employees will wonder when you'll overreact on them. They'll never shoot for the stars for fear of your reaction if they fail.
6. One-Sided Decisions
If your decisions are always "your-sided", your employees will do their best to stay under the radar. They'll do the least amount possible, and resent you for it.
7. Loose Lips
Break an employee's confidence to their co-workers, and they'll never be honest with you again.
8. Unexplained Leadership Meetings
Make no mistake: Employees know your leadership meeting cadence. They know you talk about confidential things and are OK with that. Throw an unexplained meeting in the mix, and the grapevine will be buzzing.
9. Frequent Offsite Leadership Meetings
Employees will think you're either playing or that what you're talking about is so sensitive that the rumor mill will churn. Whatever the reason, it's not good. Keep offsite meetings to a consistent minimum.
10. Before/After Work Leadership Meetings
Unexplained leadership meetings before or after hours stresses employees out. They'll be asking what's so secret that you don't want anyone to know the leadership team met?
11. Closed Door Meetings
It's important to protect your employee's privacy. But keep your door open every now and then. Too many closed door meetings opens windows of speculation.
12. A String of Bad Hires
Too many leaders dismiss bad hires as out of their control. Accumulate too many bad hires, and your employees will worry about your judgment and how that might affect them.
13. Non-Demotion / Non-Fires
Keep non-performing employees in their roles for too long, and you tell employees you've lost touch with the business. If you've lost touch in one area of the business, are their other areas?
14. Too Many Hires
Throwing people at a problem rarely works. And because it rarely works, your employees know that someone will have to go to level things back out again. Will it be them?
15. Unanswered Questions
You may not have the answer, but no news is not good news for employees. If their questions go unanswered for too long, they will immediately jump to the worst possible conclusion in their head.
16. Lack of Change
The people closest to the ground know when change needs to happen. When that change doesn't happen, they start to question why you're not doing anything about it.
17. Lack of Progress
Again, the people closest to the ground know when you're making progress - even small progress. If progress halts too long, they will start thinking the worst.