Either you are sensing there is an issue in your team or you are using a tool that tells you so, you can’t afford to ignore it. Indeed, a bad mood will affect your team productivity: unhappy people are proven to be 10% less productive than usual.
So, if a bad situation arises, here is what you need to do.
1 - Get to the roots of the problem
If you feel some tension among team members, unspoken issues or a general growing discontent, you need to understand where it’s coming from. Small quarrels or disagreements are usually fueled by a deeper issue.
Is there a stressful deadline coming up? Were there a change in the strategic orientation of the product? Is the company to be going through a bad patch? A specific individual driving everyone’s morale down?
2 - Discuss the situation
Now that you know (or think to know) the situation and its causes, you must discuss it with your team members, individually or as a team according to the situation.
If the bad mood is a general state shared by the whole or part of your team, you can address the issue quickly during a Daily standup meeting or come back to it during a Retrospective (but beware not to let the situation settle in and worsen).
If it’s more an individual state, let everyone know that you are open and willing to discuss whatever problem they may have. And encourage your team to share their issue in an anonymous comment if they don’t want to discuss it openly.
3 - Find a solution together
As they say, “Two heads are better than one.” If you try to find a solution on your own, it’s likely that it will fail: your team members may not subscribe to it, or you’ll just miss the point and the responsibility will fall on your shoulders.
You have different options here: you can choose to discuss the solution in a team meeting, to set up an anonymous idea box or an open board, to have one-on-one formal discussions or a group informal chat during a team afterwork…
4 - Arouse friendliness
Studies show that close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50% and that people with a best friend at work are 7 times more likely to engage fully in their work.
As a manager, if you want your team to work hard and get results, you need to create the perfect environment. Of course, you can’t force your team members to become friends. But you can create the conditions for people to bond: team afterwork at the end of the sprint, lunch break together once in a while, team building activities…
5 - Lead by example
Should you be in the middle of the storm or simply handle a temporary decrease in employee moral, don’t forget that your attitude as a manager will greatly impact your team members. Set the example by having a positive and open speech, sharing information transparently, being attentive and openly share your own problems. Don’t forget also to show gratitude to your employees and to praise their work.
Simply by acknowledging their issues and recognizing their effort and/or results, you can turn the situation around and motivate your team members again.
In my next article, I will share my advice on how to react to a good mood, instead of resting on one’s laurels.