What Can You Rightfully Ask of Your Employees During Times Like These?
Don't ask for blind loyalty from your workforce. We’ve all learned that the world puts hard limits on how loyal the organization can be in return.
But apart from that, right now you need a lot more than allegiance from employees. Loyalty can get lazy. Or be misdirected. Some of the so-called “loyalists” actually cause big problems, because they resist change and try to perpetuate an outdated culture that could kill the organization.
So what about high morale? Should that be your target? The short answer is “no.”
High morale can be an unrealistic goal, given all the uncertainty, stress, and negative emotions. Besides, morale may not matter much so far as results are concerned.
Sometimes, odd as it sounds, low morale is a good sign the organization is doing things dead right. Some of the tough moves managers need to make in today’s world are guaranteed to drive morale due south. But when you’re faced with the choice between doing what’s necessary to protect the organization or keeping people happy, you’d better take sides with the organization. Defending it enables you to do the most good for the most people, so be willing to make sacrifices in employee attitudes.
Performance is what pays the bills. Not loyalty. Not morale.
What you should ask for is high job commitment. Commitment works a lot harder than loyalty, and gets more done than morale does. Commitment energizes. It empowers. It inspires creativity and pulls a person’s true potential into play. That’s crucial, because the organization can’t get by anymore with mediocre performers. It can’t afford to carry dead weight or accept half-hearted effort by employees.
Is it fair to ask for high commitment under today’s conditions? It’s unfair not to.
Commitment is self-nourishing. Even as it draws power from the spirit, it feeds the soul. Commitment gives meaning to work, and deepens one’s sense of selfworth. It offers the best protection for the employee even as it strengthens the organization. Commitment is simply a no-lose proposition. Everybody benefits...but the employee enjoys the richest rewards of all.