Rescuing a sinking team can be near impossible, but following some simple strategies will help it stay afloat for the long haul.

“I can’t stand my boss!” It’s an all-too-common phrase heard around the office water cooler on any given afternoon. As a leader, turning those office frowns upside down is no easy task. In fact, the easy part is having your team turn against you; it’s much harder to win the team over and to keep that status going Monday through Friday. A few simple strategies worked out together with incorporated into your everyday routine, however, can make the team singing your praises in no time.

1. Take the Time to Care

The beating heart of a good leader is in his efforts of caring about others. Selfishness and self-praise will get a manager nowhere, and will do it fast! Take the time to truly show that you care about your employees, and do it genuinely. Ask questions about their lives, and offer your advice. Say good morning on your way in, and ask how the weekend went. Find a common bond with someone and make a running joke from it. Equally critical, however, is the ability to remember what was said. (Routinely asking Suzy’s daughter’s name can hurt you more than help!) It may be a challenge on the ol’ memory, but expressing personal interest in your team will be the gift that keeps on giving.

2. Stay On Top of the Inbox

Not answering e-mails can be the kiss of death. It creates a sinking feeling amongst your team and often goes unforgotten. Take a moment out of every day to respond to each of your staff’s e-mails and phone calls, even if it appears minuscule or too time-consuming. Make notes to yourself to remember certain follow-up issues, and do so promptly.

3. Cut the Gossip

Office gossip is inevitable. Like a pink elephant in the cubicle, it’s often extremely tough to ignore. At the leadership level, however, gossiping speaks loud and clear amongst the team that the boss is too critical, untrustworthy, and lacks integrity. Remind yourself to think neutrally when faced with office gossip, or walk away from it altogether. Better yet, take the high road and remind Bob that his story about Betty’s carelessness on the job can be bad for his reputation. Most companies have a low tolerance for such behavior, so it often can be easily dissuaded with a friendly reminder from the heart. Just remember that providing such feedback can be disastrous; do it in a way that makes light of the situation, and simply says that you care for Bob’s well-being.

4. Micromanage Yourself…Not Your Team

Staying on top of your own priorities, and checking things twice, should be near the top of your “To Do” list. Doing it for others, however, should not. Nothing says “I hate my boss” like a team that is micromanaged. This type of leader simply does not trust her team, and it creates an uncomfortable feeling in the office space from lack of freedom. Listlessness and poor performance soon follow as the team lives by the notion that their boss has no faith in their work. Make it a point to remind yourself that your team is capable of doing their jobs, and will not benefit from constant reminders or check-ins. If certain tasks don’t get completed to your satisfaction, then change the current feedback strategy or alter job responsibilities to correct the problem. Following up on an annoying basis is not going to do you any good from a performance perspective; give the team the power that they deserve. The results will surprise you in the end.

5. Have Fun

A common complaint amongst office workers is that the workplace is a drag and that they dread coming in at all. Make every effort to counter this by cutting the seriousness in your approach. When applicable, make jokes with your team and laugh at your mistakes. Send out humorous office e-mails (if your organization allows it), or include one-liners in meeting agendas. Take time out of that boring staff meeting for casual conversation, team-building activities, or ice breakers. Treat the team to a “donuts meeting” of coffee and donuts to get everyone alive and talking during a long, mundane week. You’ll quickly find that your team of zombies will ultimately become a heard of clowns.

Working with your people from 9 to 5 may be a heavy responsibility, but changing things up a bit and following these simple steps can certainly lighten the load. At the end of the week, you’ll be patting yourself on the back for having a well-run office space, and a satisfied staff to go along with it.