If you’re frustrated with the attitude permeating your agency, I’d like to remind you that your agency’s morale begins with you. You must improve your own attitude before you begin to improve employee morale.

I get it.  I’ve owned my agency for almost 20 years and I’d had more than my share of sleepless nights. The truth is, even when things are going better than anticipated, there are still those nagging concerns. There’s always a shoe just waiting to drop.

But as agency owners we need to remember that we’re the barometer our employees use to take the agency’s temperature. If you’re uptight, they’re uptight.  If you’re frustrated with a certain employee, pretty soon they’ll be frustrated with that person too.  If you talk about clients like they’re a pain — your employees will treat them that way.

Be honest — when you have the opportunity to chase a big new account, are you excited or do you dread the effort?  Guess what — your employees take your lead and feel the same way.

It’s time to take a good look at your agency’s culture and do an honest assessment. Is it the kind of culture that you’re proud of and would want to work in day, after day?  Is it snarky?  Does everyone help each other or is there a parade out the door at 5 pm?

Before you improve employee morale, your agency’s morale begins with you. Every single time. You are the agency’s visionary and it’s your job to wave the company flag, not burn it.

So what do you do if you’re feeling worn out, frustrated, under appreciated or worried?  You fake it. You don’t burden your employees with agency owner worries. You find an agency owner peer network or a Vistage group or some other safe place to vent those feelings to people who understand your business.  Find a thinking partner, mastermind group or business coach.

But you don’t come into the office every day looking like or behaving like Eeyore.

I’m not suggesting that you lie to your staff. Here’s how you begin to improve employee morale: If there’s trouble, you tell them about it but you stay optimistic about how together you can solve the problem. You frame even the toughest days (like a layoff) in terms of how the agency will be better, stronger, etc. because of the decision.

I’m not suggesting that this is easy.  Being an owner can suck and be lonely. But you’re their leader and you set the tone. There are lots of perks to owning an agency. This is one of the costs of those perks.

Your company’s morale begins with you. So what’s it going to be?