11 Sure-Fire Ways to Revive Spirit in the Workplace

The Attitude Guy™

Reviving spirit in the workplace is like starting the wave at a major sporting event.  The process is a little uncomfortable at first and often met with rejection, criticism, and sometimes failure.

Before we get into the “how-tos” of reviving spirit in the workplace, let’s define it:

reviving spiritSpirit is the atmosphere and attitude of a place or
situation that influences  effort and attitude in its people.

In 2011, I gave close to 100 speeches on the subject of attitude to organizations who told me before their events, “We really want to revive a positive spirit in the workplace so our people will do better, or continue to do well.”

Reviving spirit in the workplace is about creating awareness that excellence still matters. Teamwork still makes the dream work. Positive communication is a must. And profit, productivity, and performance rely on attitude and effort.

The spirit in the workplace can often turn negative when others are impacted by decisions and issues that are out of their control. This might include: corporate downsizing, understaffing, budget reductions, and upper-management decisions that adversely impact employees.

Here are a Few Ideas on How to Revive Spirit in the Workplace:

1.     Become a Wave Master and Start the Wave.

To revive spirit in the workplace, someone has to be the wave master—getting people up and engaged in better communication, perseverance, attitude, teamwork and effort.  The wave master has a vision of what spirit should be or look like in the workplace.  The next step is introducing that vision and getting everyone on board. This is where it gets tricky, because not everyone will buy into your vision of making the workplace a more positive place. Attitude is a personal choice, and some rotten apples—no matter how hard you try encouraging them and showing them the light of being more positive—won’t give up their rotten attitudes.

Why not stand out in the “stadium” of your workplace, and start the wave?

A few years back, I was attending an NFL football game in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metro Dome in Minneapolis, Minn.  I was sitting on about the 10-yard line next to some friends and family, and noticed the energy level in the stadium was at about a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10–with 10 being raising the roof.  Our team was playing average and the energy was average.  It was evident that we needed to revive the winning spirit amongst 68,000 people. So instead of waiting for someone to do it, I made the choice to become the Wave Master.  The wave is where people stand, lift their hands in the air, and scream with enthusiasm–and round and round it goes.

I announced the vision of what I was trying to do, and a few people dismissed it by telling me to “shut up and sit down.”  I said, “On the count of three, we are going to do the wave!”

“One…Two….Three! Yahhhh!!!”  I did the wave all by myself. There was no buy in. Some just thought it would be embarrassing, or their attitude was at that point of, “I don’t care.”  I did it a few more times and finally, a few people got on board. Then a few more, and after about 7 and a half minutes of not giving up, 68,000 people were standing to their feet doing the wave and reviving our team with energy, hope, and optimism. It felt great! It was electrifying.  However, it required courage to make it happen.

And it’s similar in the workplace or life. You can’t just talk about it, sign up for a free tele-seminar about it, read a book about it, or think about it. You have to put the knowledge into action. The question you have to ask is, What are you willing to do to reviving a positive and winning spirit in your workplace?  What changes need to happen?   

2.    Be Willing to Be Flexible.

Be willing to work with people on terms that work best for them. Best Buy offers some of their employees the option to work from home. People have crazy schedules, and so offering the option to people to get their work done mobile is a great benefit to the employee and the company. It would be evident if it didn’t work because the company would know if the person was not getting the job done. And it also cuts down on sick days and turnover. It demonstrates trust.  Not every position in a company has this option, but the principle of being flexible opens the door to creating loyal employees and reducing turnover. It involves getting to know your people at a human level and seeing what works best for them so they can give their best. As a leader, your job is about achieving results. If you want better results, you have to be willing to focus on ways to unlock the best version of your people–and one aspect to achieving that is being willing to be flexible.

3.    Communicate Information In Positive Ways.

Some people may and will be negative when provided with information of new changes or cut backs. Avoid becoming defensive and reactive. Don’t take the employees’ negative words or attitudes personally. Be real with employees, but also be willing to communicate the silver lining so people are not interpreting you in a negative way.  Negative communication gives life to fear, doubt, disengagement, and poor effort. You want to be willing to communicate in a way that people understand, but also promote buy in to the vision of new changes or new information.

4.    Get a Clue.

Why do people wait for things to get bad before they get a clue and something about it? I heard a former astronaut speaking on the subject of safety the other day and he said, “Why is it that we don’t have enough money to do it right the first time, but always have enough and more to fix things when something goes wrong?”

Waiting for things to get better and complaining about the way things are will not enrich the spirit in the workplace. Getting a clue is just that; look for clues to what needs attention, and find ways make it happen urgently. If it means more training, then do it. If it means more awareness about a specific subject like safety, teamwork, treating customers right, getting the sales, getting to work on time…or whatever, then fix it now or it will cost double, triple, or more later.

5.     Make People Feel Valued.

When people feel valued and important, they become more loyal, do the extra job, step up, and care more. People want to know they matter and that what they do is making a significant contribution. By showing appreciation for their efforts, it improves morale and adds to that winning spirit.

6.     Add Some Chocolate Chip Cookie Fun.

cookieFun can be simple things that give employees a quick recharge break. A friend of mine was telling me that a vendor brought in cookies about 3 p.m. when everyone was kind of hitting a wall–as it’s near the end of the day, but not quite.  She said everyone took a break, went to the conference room and ate cookies, chatted, and laughed–and in about 10 minutes everyone was back to work.  She indicated it was fun. Everyone needed it.  And it worked!

So bring in cookies or ice cream sandwiches. People love food and an opportunity to take a break, recharge, and have fun. Have a contest …Who can cook the best chili or mac-n-cheese? It doesn’t have to cost a lot; it just has to give people an opportunity to have fun and enjoy each other. Make popcorn!!

7.    Get Away.

Getting out of the office to have an off-site meeting can actually be energizing and effective. It gets you out of the same old routine and gives you a fresh environment to soak up. I recently did an all-employee meeting in Grand Rapids, Mich.  It was awesome. It was at an off-site location that was beautiful. There were snacks, prizes and might I say, one amazing and awesome speaker – ME! We had fun and everyone left happy and energized.

8.   Don’t Take Everything so Seriously.

Things are going to go wrong; people will make mistakes and drop the ball. When this happens, it is easy to get discouraged, negative, and want to give up. Instead, try to find some humor in the situation (there is always some), and then come up with a solution. Have you ever dropped the ball or made a mistake and had someone show you grace and compassion? How awesome did that feel? Didn’t it make you want to do better and try harder? Show that to people. Even if it is the exact opposite of how you want to act or respond, choose grace. Chances are you are going to be in that position one day and you want to create a culture of understanding and improvement. If people are free to make mistakes, they are more likely to try creative, out-of-the-box solutions which could bring you incredible results you would never have if people are too scared to try.

9.    Celebrate!

Celebrate small successes and events as much if not more than big ones. Celebration creates positive energy. If it’s your coworker’s birthday, bring in some cupcakes and balloons (especially if it’s someone who gets on your nerves ;)). If you have been working towards a goal and making positive progress, celebrate that by leaving an hour early on a Friday. When you create things to look forward to, it creates positive expectations and energy. Celebrating it rewards people for making it happen.

10.     Give Back.

Do charity or community events as a group. This is a great way to add super glue to the concept of teamwork. I was visiting a non profit group, Feed My Starving Children, and there was a team of UPS guys there packaging up food for children in third world countries. But it wasn’t just work to them. They did it with attitude. They shouted out positive things when a bag or box of food was complete. Each person had to rely on the other to make it work. It was an awesome demonstration of giving back, but also of building a stronger team.

Also, there is the added bonus of creating a positive company image in the community–but that is not the goal. Use events like Veterans Day to give back to the military by writing letters to soldiers thanking them for their service. One company purchased a few non-assembled bikes, split the office up into teams, and built the bikes together. Once they were done, they brought in a child who didn’t have enough money to get a bike, and presented him with the bike.  It was cool to see the expression on everyone’s faces!

There are a million different ways to give back; choose a few that mean the most to your company and do them. Or ask your employees what charities are important to them, and create an event around that. How proud would an employee feel knowing that their ENTIRE Company is helping support that cause? That’s HUGE. It will create loyality and drive to work that you can’t create any other way.

11.   Offer Opportunities to Become Better

If there is an opportunity for someone to learn something new to become better at life and work, then make that available.  A manager friend once told me that he wants his sales team to work harder on themselves than they do their jobs, because when they become great at who they are, they are awesome at what they do. People want to be great, but sometimes they just need that open door or opportunity to expand their greatness. There are many benefits to a company, team, or department when people improve themselves. The late Jim Rohn once said, “The greatest gift we can give others is our personal development.”

A friend of mine was offered the opportunity to attend a seminar on how to use LinkedIn better. Her company sent her to the seminar, and she loved it. She shared her new concepts with fellow co-workers and again fostered positive energy and a revived spirit.

What can you do to revive the spirit of your workplace?

Stadium Photo: nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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