Stepping Up During Tough Times

Here are seven suggestions to help you improve morale, motivation and productivity in your in-plant.

One approach during the tough economic times we live in is to stick our heads in the sand, and wish all of this would just go away. I suggest there is a better approach: meet the tough times head on and be proactive. How can we be proactive and weather the economic storm? Here are seven suggestions for your consideration:

Wes Friesen  is the manager of Revenue Collection & Community Offices for Portland General Electric.

Wes Friesen  is the manager of Revenue Collection & Community Offices for Portland General Electric.

Build Credibility. It is important to constantly enhance the reputation of your operation. This will help you avoid excessive budget cuts and improve the probability of acquiring the resources you need to be successful. Here are tactics to help build credibility:

  • Use internal communications channels (e.g., company newsletters, e-mail, intranet Web page, etc.) to let others know of your team’s accomplishments.
  • Sponsor an open house and have tours so people better understand what you do and the value it brings.
  • Develop a team promotional brochure that describes the services you provide and has pictures of the staff and equipment.
  • Develop a professional looking and informative service guide. Consider doing a periodic newsletter.
  • Make sure your team members that deal with internal and external customers dress professionally. Provide phone and communication skill training for all.
  • Pursue personal certifications. Attend IPMA conferences and earn a certificate or awards. Frame and display prominently all certificates and awards.
  • Get involved with trade organizations like IPMA and your local Postal Customer Council (if you have mail responsibilities).
  • Develop and tell a great “green” story.
  • Finally, provide great customer service and consistently high quality. Do a periodic customer survey and work together as a team to improve on the results.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Studies have shown that employees want to know how the team and the organization are doing, and the person they most trust for this information is their immediate supervisor. Our employees want to hear both the positive and negative news from us. If we fail to communicate, a vacuum is created—and that vacuum is filled by the “rumor mill,” which invariably is negative and destructive to morale and motivation.

Wes Friesen manages multiple departments for an electrical utility based in the Northwest. His teams have earned numerous awards including NAPL Gold awards. Wes also teaches university classes and is a featured speaker at a variety of national conferences. Wes has just written a book called Your Team Can Soar! which contains 42 valuable lessons to help you lead and develop high performing teams. Books can be ordered from his personal website ( or via the following link: Contact Wes at

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