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Since mid-level managers and team leaders can have a significant impact on workplace culture, they need to recognize and avoid behaviors that can undermine morale, decrease team member engagement, and contribute to team member turnover.

Most managers don’t do this on purpose. Lack of experience and inadequate leadership training can lead to bad habits that have a negative impact on their department or team. Being aware of these habits is the first step towards avoiding them.

Lack of Guidance

Absentee managers allow their teams to work with little insight into how they’re doing and whether they’re working on the right things. team members who don’t understand where to put their focus quickly become frustrated — even those who need feedback and extra guidance from time to time. Being ignored by management may be welcomed by those who are performing poorly, but other team members can become resentful when poor performance goes unnoticed. Being nice rather than being honest with poor performers can lower morale for the entire team.


Managers who provide too much guidance can be just as frustrating as those who give too little. Constantly monitoring team member progress and undermining team member decision-making are real morale killers. team members need to feel that they can be trusted to complete their work when given the information and guidance they need. Achieving the correct balance between too much and too little guidance is one of the most important management responsibilities.  

Absence of Clear Expectations

team members who have a clear understanding of expectations can better focus their time and energy. Knowing how they will be evaluated gives team members a target to aim for, while not having goals or objectives is terrible for both productivity and morale. Many expectations are implicit and tied to company culture, so managers need to help educate team members and provide information about company goals and values related to performance expectations.

Unequal Treatment

Treating team members differently can build resentment within the team. This doesn’t mean managers can’t be friendly with their team members, but any appearance of preferential treatment should be avoided. Managers need to make it clear that rewards are based on performance. The best way to prevent unequal treatment accusations is to provide clear performance expectations and apply them to all team members.

Poor Communication

When secrecy is part of company culture, team members can become resentful or fearful. Managers should serve as information conduits for their teams. They are often the main point of contact between a team member, and the business organization, so adequate communication is crucial. Besides passing on company information, managers should participate in team discussions and individual conversations where team members can air out their questions and concerns.

Lack of Recognition

Few team members are satisfied with working hard for little or no recognition. Managers should assume that everyone on their team appreciates recognition for their successes. Credit should be given regularly and consistently; the type of recognition given should be appropriate for the importance of the effort. Making a big deal about something small can be just as bad for morale as not recognizing an important contribution.

Broken Promises

Managers need to be careful about making promises they know they can’t keep, especially promises about work assignments, promotions, or compensation. As representatives of the business, they have a responsibility to deliver on any promises made and not expect the team member to forget about it when they don’t deliver. They also shouldn’t leave it up to the team member to remind them about a forgotten promise. Demonstrating good character by following up on promises helps build team member confidence and morale.  The opposite is also true.

No manager can be expected to avoid these morale-killing mistakes 100 percent of the time—they are, after all, human. However, understanding how these behaviors can impact team member morale provides additional motivation to avoid them. Exercising mutual self-respect and using some common sense will go a long way towards keeping morale and productivity high.

Your team members’ happiness is key to having a successful business. Don’t let management put a damper on the morale of your team. If you would like to learn more useful management tips, check out our blog! To stay up to date with all things coAmplifi, sign up for our email updates or follow us on social media.

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