Keeping the good vibes rolling all year can be a tricky balancing act. You’ve got to keep morale up without forcing it on your team (I’m often reminded of my favorite poster hanging at an old job: “The beatings will continue until morale improves!”)
The only thing worse than having high turnover is having no turnover with a team that hates their jobs. If you operate a customer facing operation, low morale can become very apparent to your customers very quickly.
From the jump, I knew employee appreciation would be a focal point at the Pop Bar. Since coming on, I’ve tried to do an outing at least every other month. I hate the term “Team Building”, but these outings truly help bring solidarity and recognition to the team. From roller skating and bowling to Escape the Room and brewery tours, we’ve had lots of fun as a team- but I wanted to end 2017 with a truly unforgettable night.
I decided on creating the Bar’s own version of the Dundees- as popularized by Michael Scott on The Office. I take a lot of inspiration from Mr. Scott in my day to day managerial style- only the best qualities though: lighthearted, always looking out for the team, and constantly seeing opportunities for fun anywhere and everywhere.
The Dundees have always stuck out as something I wanted to emulate, and this year I was finally able to with the First Annual R.L.V.’s (a tongue in cheek reference to our most popular menu item). I was able to line up dinner at a local Ramen shop for some cheap eats and solid cocktails for the team, but the location doesn’t really matter- it’s all about the content of the party!
I made sure to play up the R.L.V.’s as if they were the Oscars. No- bigger than the Oscars. This was THE event of the year, even though in reality it was just a bunch of plastic trophies and gag gifts.
But that’s the heart of it- you have to be passionate and enthusiastic- really sell your team on outings., Otherwise they come off as forced. If you’re taking them out to dinner just to check a “boost employee morale” box on your quarterly reports, you might as well save the money and give them a christmas bonus. It has to be organic. It has to genuinely feel like you as a manger want to do this for and with your team.
So the night went off without a hitch. The crowd favorites were the unfortunate awards: Most Likely To Forget To Clock In/Out, High Flyer 2017 (most cocktail shakers thrown out of the tin mid-shake), Slap Happy (most likely to slap a customer), etc. You want to embrace and celebrate all aspects of your team- good and bad- as it builds rapport with the team. You win as a down to earth manager and an understanding one who knows we’re all human.
I think everyone went home from the R.L.V.’s with a greater appreciation for their jobs and for each other- and that’s the end result I was looking for.
For those seeking to crack the whole “team morale” Da Vinci code, don’t take it too seriously. Be cheesy. Don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself. Be mindful not to make it offensive. And if you’re worried about the return on investment of team outings, you’re already in the wrong mindset.
I’ll leave you with a manager’s mantra I follow from my middle management hero:
“Would I rather be feared or loved? Easy. Both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.” -Michael Scott