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Praise the Positive: How to Raise Employee Morale without Spending a Dime

"I Don't Care" - The Fallacies of Poor Management

In working with clients struggling with depression I often find that the work environment provides a lot of distress and discontent.  I've not been exempt from these influences myself and always find the strategies of management to be somewhat curious.

I often see the case where the management or the supervisor will tolerate no input from employees, especially input which suggests that changes might be made to improve the work being done or the environment in which the employees work.  Supervisors seem to tolerate no criticism.  This is not very smart.

Employees who are dedicated to their work will have opinions about how it can be done better.  And who better to see what improvements can be made than those who are doing the work?  We see this in the mental health field.  Upper management typically makes decisions based not on psychological theory but on "good" business practices or, more often these days, what is most profitable.  But decisions based on these ideals do not necessarily play out in ways which are expeditious to the clinic or helpful to the client.  Staff working directly with mentally ill clients can provide feedback which can be very insightful and helpful. 

Unfortunately, it is more often than not met with a deaf ear at best.  At worst it is taken as a personal attack of the supervisor or as not being a "team player".  When the suggestions of employees are regarded as attacks they are often dealt with by punishment or castigation.  In cases like this it is not uncommon for staff to lose all interest in their work.  At this point they either play along until they can find other employment or they sit where they are and get burned out.  Either way, the clients, customers or companies are not getting the best efforts of the employee.

I find more and more clients having to take an "I don't give a sh*t" attitude at work just to survive.  If they care about their work, they risk losing their temper, crying in frustration or walking off the job.  And who can afford to do that in the current economy?  They can only survive in the position by ceasing to care.  That is sad.  And psychologically devastating. 

And it can lead to serious depression.

Supervisors would do well to study the downfalls of Presidents Nixon and Bush.  One of the major fallacies of both presidents was to surround themselves only with "Yes" men (and women).  If you do not allow ideas which are contradictory to your own, you do not allow people to say to you, "Sir, I think breaking into the Democratic headquarters might not be a good idea" or "Sir, I think starting a war with Iraq might not be a good idea". 

A smart supervisor would hold the loudest complainer closest to them.  They would then be immediately apprised of any and all problems within their department and alerted to possible solutions discussed by other staff members.  Allowing staff to state how they feel in the open would decrease passive aggressive behaviors and create a more positive and satisfying work environment.   

I find myself in the position where I may soon become a supervisor of clinicians.  I hope I remember the lessons I've learned as an employee.  Perhaps it will look different from the other side of the desk.





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Supervising people is an enormously difficult task. Good luck to you... you're going to need it.


Thank you jss, I'll take all the help I can get.

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