Recent Trends in Human Resource Management

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Driven by Emotions

Driven by Emotions

MANAGING EMPLOYEE EMOTIONS HAS BECOME EXTREMELY IMPERATIVE FOR EMPLOYERS IN TODAY’S CORPORATE SCENARIO. WITH A WIDE ARRAY OF EMOTIONS THAT EMPLOYEES EXPERIENCE DUE TO STRESS, LONG WORKING HOURS AND PROFESSIONAL DEMANDS, THE NEED, FOR COMPANIES, TO ADDRESS THIS ISSUE IS EVEN MORE

Employees’ moods, emotions, and overall dispositions have an impact on job performance, decision making, creativity, turnover, teamwork, negotiations and leadership. People are not isolated 'emotional islands’ at work. Rather, they bring all of themselves to work, including their traits, moods and emotions, and their affective experiences and expressions influence others. Without an emotional-management component, a work environment can become toxic. To be in complete control of your workplace, you also need to be a master of emotions, both yours and your employees'. “Emotional intelligence” which has been the buzzword in psychology and education is now being talked about in business circles as well.

The emotional conundrum

It is a known fact that an employee’s output is a function of his/her motivation level and competence. Motivation is primarily driven by emotions. “A motivated employee is far likely to be more committed, focussed, attentive and energetic – all valuable aspects in determining the quality of the output produced. And thus, the organisational efficacy and success is significantly linked to the employees’ emotions,” expresses Sugato Palit, Head – Human Resources & Communication, Perfetti Van Melle India Pvt. Ltd.


According to Neeta Mohla, Joint MD, InspireOne, “Research shows when people ‘feel’ good, they produce good results. Leadership, in fact, is all about creating the right emotions in people and ensuring that these emotions help the individual and organisation create the right results.” Amitabh Hajela, Vice President and Global Head of Human Resources, EXL Service concurs, “An employee forms the backbone of any organisation. Managing employees’ emotions becomes extremely important at a workplace. Any emotion displayed at a workplace by an employee is driven by his/her motivation and it has a direct impact on the performance of that individual.”

Emotions galore

Since, employees spend most of their time in the office, they are bound to experience a wide array of emotions which can be both positive and negative. “It’s very difficult to define all the emotions that crop up. Anger, frustration, lack of faith, detachment and jealousy are some of the most negative. On the brighter side, there are positive emotions such as passion, optimism, commitment and pride for work and these are the emotions that eventually have a positive influence on the overall work environment,” informs Sudhir Singh Dungarpur, President and CEO,Q2A Media.


Talking about how negative or positive emotions or attitude have an impact on an employee’s performance and also the organisation’s performance, Palit shares, “There is always an influence, or what, in managerial parlance is referred to as a ‘rub-off effect’. A cheerful, enthusiastic employee is very likely to have a similar effect on his or her colleagues. A wet blanket, on the other hand, is extremely likely to have the opposite effect.” Mohla adds, “One of the most predominant negative emotions is that of fear towards supervisors. Fear leads to inability of individuals to come up with new ideas, suggestions or problem solving behaviours; over time, this can lead to a ‘one brain organisation’. There is always a human tendency to feel more negative than positive. That is one of the roles of the leader: to ensure that emotions are always managed well.”

Handle with care

Since so many emotions are being experienced and felt at the workplace, it becomes imperative for an organisation to manage these emotions of employees well and also deal with them intelligently. Hajela explains, “We, at EXL, follow an open culture where employees are encouraged to express their emotions, worries and any issues that they face. Programmes such as ‘Coffee with Rohit’ (Rohit Kapoor is the President and CEO of EXL), town halls with the CEO, etc., provide them an opportunity to engage themselves with the company leaders on an informal platform.”

According to Mohla, some methods that can be adopted to manage emotions at the workplace are to train leaders to be good coaches and ensure there are forums where people can talk. “We have a buddy system for new people because we understand that new people need some emotional connect, initially. We also enhance engagement and positive emotions by creating fun events or team work opportunities,” she maintains.


Palit says, “In terms of involvement, we have specific groups created out of the second line of command and empowered them to take organisation level decisions proactively, and pass on the empowerment down the line. Our open, transparent and apolitical culture has helped us in creating a vibrant, energetic and enthusiastic ambience in which all employees are encouraged to give their best,” expresses Palit. Similarly, at Q2A Media, it is believed that emotions can be contagious; they travel from one person to another, and so it is important to know the employee’s pulse. “We try to maximise employee experiences and view employee complaints as ‘emotional opportunities’. We make use of constructive criticism as it helps in addressing areas that need improvement, without beating down an employee,” says Dungarpur.”

Hence, it is a proven fact that emotions can't be separated from the workplace and are critical to a business’ success. A successful organisation will find ways to manage employee emotions, control emotional flareups and have a healthy environment.

Tips to manage emotions at work:

>> We can't always control feelings of stress, but we should make an effort to control the disruptive emotions that they may trigger.
>> When you experience an emotion, just notice. Identify what emotion it is that you are experiencing. Pause before you respond. This is the way to gain control over your emotions rather than allowing them to control you.
>> You cannot think and feel at the same time. Separate the emotion from logic. If you are upset or emotional and you cannot think clearly, take time-out to experience the emotion. Don't repress the emotion; you need to understand the reasons behind your emotional response.

Ref: Times of India

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