Simplicity of Building Morale

Building morale does not need to be complicated. Here are two simple behavior changes that can create a big impact.

Creating a Positive Environment

In his classic book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” Dale Carnegie explained a very basic - and needed - social skill is to make someone feel good while they are around you.  This key skill will determine if you are successful at professional and personal relationships.  So imagine a police culture where others felt good to be around their fellow officers with no fear of criticism, but instead each officer truly has their back.  Not just on calls or in a dangerous situation but in all situations.  One of the most important components in creating a positive environment is the one thing you have the most control over: The words you choose to use.  If your words are negative a person will feel negative around you, and if you use positive words a person will feel good when they are with you.  It is a simple change that takes discipline to master, but will have huge impact on your own morale as well as the others around you.

Celebrating Success

Most people define friendship as someone who is there in their time of need.  When a marriage has gone sour, or life is pressing down and they need someone who will be there to listen to them and to help them out both emotionally and physically. But more importantly, studies have shown that people who are the happiest in relationships have friends and coworkers who celebrate their successes.  Being encouraging and celebratory is actually a rare trait; what is more common is jealousy, which is destructive since it builds resentment, anger, and hostility in the relationship.  Imagine, if you are not already, becoming a person who only celebrated another’s success.  Imagine if you congratulated a co-worker on a promotion, a good investigation or arrest, or how they backed you on a call.  Only talk about your colleagues’ successes or what someone does right instead of how you perceive they failed.  A culture of celebrating one’s successes improves morale and workers reported satisfaction because they felt cared about, invested in, and that they serve a purpose for the greater good.  They believe their agency wants them there and in turn are more productive.

What my golf league has taught me is the benefits of being positive.  Each Thursday I’m surrounded by ladies who encourage me, let me work out my own imperfections, and cheer me on when I nail a drive down the middle of the fairway.  With them I grow and improve. Our challenge to you is simple and two-fold in changing morale.  It will seem overly simple, but is one you can begin implementing today, for it is the simple changes in behavior that make the biggest impact.  Begin today spreading positive gossip.  Talk only about another’s good traits to other people, and start directly complimenting other cops when they do something well. 

And always remember “criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person's precious pride, hurt his sense of importance and arouse resentment.” ? Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People


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