Many years ago, I worked at an organization that had horrible morale. To make matters worse, my boss was oblivious and even indifferent to the workplace culture. Despite his lack of interest in the culture, he was open to my starting a weekly prayer meeting at the office.
I invited anyone and everyone on the staff to participate. I didn’t expect many people to join me, but Joe and Tom did. Sometimes only two of us showed up for prayer, but more often than not the three of us were there.
Long after we started praying together, Tom surprised me one day. He said, “I know the only reason that I have been able to make it through is because of our prayers.” He directly attributed that small prayer gathering to giving him the peace to survive the toxic work environment. Things at work didn’t seem to change that much. But Tom, Joe, and I were changed. And that helped to change the morale of the workplace—at least from our perspective.
Even if you are not the one in charge, you can make a difference—because you can choose to do something. If you are willing to put the needs of the team ahead of yourself, people will ultimately look to you as a leader—because you are already leading.
Here are three ways that you can improve morale even if you are not the boss.
1. Be concerned about others
By being a team player, you gain the notice and the respect of your boss and colleagues. If you go out of your way to help others, you will impact the people around you. In Give and Take, Adam Grant says that “putting the group’s goals and mission first, and showing the same amount of concern for others as you do for yourself,” is what makes everyone more successful—because there’s more success “for the whole team to share.” When you make others successful, you will become more successful as well.
2. Be loyal
Put aside any differences you may have with your colleagues—and your boss—and work for the betterment of the organization. You are all part of the same team, so focus on being loyal to the team.
If you feel that it’s not worth the effort to be loyal to the company you work for, then go out and find another job. But as long as you are there, put the organization ahead of your self-interest—because you will benefit in the process (Jeremiah 29:7).
Remember: this is not about the company you work for. This is about helping you enjoy your work more. You will get more by giving more.
3. Be the leader you wish your boss would be
You can set yourself up for leadership by learning from your boss—even if your boss is not a good leader. Determine what you think your boss does poorly—and do the opposite. If your boss is lazy, then be industrious. If your boss blames everyone else for his or her failures, then take responsibility for your mistakes. Resist the temptation to do what you see the boss is doing wrong.
Instead of complaining about the poor morale, I did something about it. Even though I wished my boss would have started the prayer meeting, I initiated the change I wanted to see.
By doing the right thing, you will prepare yourself for leadership when the opportunity presents itself —even if it’s not at your current place of employment.
You have more influence than you may realize. Only by making the effort to utilize that influence will you realize just how much you can improve the morale at your workplace.
This article has been adapted from the #1 international bestselling book, Dear Employee: What Your Boss Wishes You Knew.
To find out more about Dear Employee, or to purchase a copy of the book, click here.