Fostering Positive Staff Morale

google-76522_960_720By Nick McDaniels

Lately, I have been listening to Laszlo Bock’ book Work Rules! on tape (I don’t want you to think I actually read during the summer). Mr. Bock is the Senior VP of People Operations at Google. While I rarely ever read or listen to self help, better-your-life, or better-your-company texts, this one, because it came out of Google, a company with a reputation for doing things differently in a lot of ways, but particularly as an employer, struck me as one that was worth checking out.

Some of it is certainly preachy, in that way that my generation, millenials, are preachy, by stating opinions as truth but being so cut-your-heart-out honest about everything, that everyone just wants to believe your words.

But some of it, the honesty of it, the statistical, research-based approach of Google’s People Operations, gave me a ton to think about that I could extrapolate to a school setting.

One of the thoughts I had while listening to Mr. Bock was inspired by his description of how Google’s employees, Googlers, helped shape one another, positively, through well-structured ways the Google allows co-workers to provide feedback to one-another.

In schools often, we don’t structure such time very well, or, if we do, it is done in a mentorship capacity, where there is still a veteran/novice dichotomy.

So I started to think of ways in which staff members of a school, operating at the same employment level (i.e. as teachers), could help support one another to improve staff morale.

Well, teachers, because the job is so challenging, often have to put their head down, work as hard as they can, just to take care of their own responsibilities. Because of this, they are often not able to support or lift up one another. This creates silos of isolation, which crushes morale, as everyone struggles alone.

As one simple suggestion, school administration, or a group of teachers, on a bi-weekly basis, could place blank greeting cards in teachers mail-boxes, and encourage, even by modeling, teachers to take the time, once every two weeks to write a nice note to a colleague. Perhaps, the note could contain a congratulations, a thank you, a note of support. Such a gesture, if structured in a regular way and performed consistently, would undoubtedly find its way ingrained into the school’s culture and would, in my opinion, boost morale. The key is though, that the effort must be structured and supported collectively, must not be mandatory, but must be made easy-to-complete.

This is, of course, one idea of the many that could flow from the important lesson of allowing same-level employees to support each other, improve each other, and build a positive staff culture through well-structured and consistent mechanisms.

I’m excited to think of more ideas in line with this thought. If you have one, please leave a comment.



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