Leaders must address emotions in the workplace

Emotions at work

My friend Michael Stallard has written an article together with Howard Behar, the former president of Starbucks. Their premise is this:

American leaders need to wake up and smell the coffee. Research from two well-respected organizations makes it clear that we have a big collective blind spot thatís dragging down productivity, innovation and economic performance.

So what’s wrong? It’s simple:

Gradually over time, America has become overly obsessed about managing tasks. In our quest to produce results, we have lost sight of the importance of engaging people. As human beings we have emotions. We have hopes and dreams. We have a conscience. We want to be respected, to be recognized for our talents, to belong, to have autonomy or control over our work and our lives, to experience personal growth, and to do work that we believe is worthwhile and in a way that we feel is ethical. Itís how we are wired.

We need to recognize that emotions have a disproportionate effect when it comes to inspiring people or burning them out. An earlier Corporate Executive Board research report showed that emotional factors were four times more effective than rational factors such as compensation when it came to motivating human beings to give their best efforts.

All I can say is: Woohooooo! Read the whole article here.

I have written about this previously here:

What do you think? Are emotions acknowledged, allowed and addressed in your workplace? Or do leaders where you work still try to pretend we’re all robots who can leave their feelings at home?

5 thoughts on “Leaders must address emotions in the workplace”

  1. The company I work for (Convergence Networks) expresses its main ideals with the mnemonic “GREAT” — where the “G” stands for “Growth,” which encompasses growth within the company as well as personal/professional growth for each and every employee. This ideal is more than just a statement on a plaque… it is brought up in meetings & conversations, and can be fully felt throughout the company. My boss periodically asks my co-workers and I how we are doing, and if we ever have any type of problem, concern, etc. (regarding our own emotions or otherwise), I always feel comfortable bringing it up to my supervisor. All in all, this company (of ~30 employees) is quite good at practicing what it preaches and caring about the voices & opinions of all its employees.

  2. It’s nice to see that America has noticed that people have emotions :)
    While there are ofcourse leaders and managers all over the world who should take this to heart, it’s been puzzling me for a long time how a culture who has a whole industry on after-the-fact-recognition (recognition & celebration of results, “employee of the month” etc.) often totally forgets about before-the-fact-recognition (respect for people’s needs).

    It’s one thing to celebrate and reward results, but that only gives a short boost of motivation. It’s a trade: I create results, you reward me. The moment I stop creating results, I don’t get a reward. And vice versa: The moment the rewards stop coming (for example due to a financial crisis…) I stop creating results because I’m not motivated anymore.

    The only thing that creates sustainable motivation and engagement is showing interest in the other person; paying attention to people’s needs and responding to them. This creates a psychological & emotional bond that survives any crisis.

    The above article doesn’t say anything new. It just cites Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. And he was American… :)

  3. Corporations have no emotions – nothink too surpricing, they are a few pieces of paper. But what makes them run are people that have a lot of emotions – yet, for most bosses it’s a strange idea.

    Maybe they forgot they’re human? ;)

  4. Corporations don’ t create the emotion. People do. It is the connection between leadership and employees that matter. Just like with friendships their is a balance and a fine line of trust, respect, appreciation and more. If a friend does something unethical or is unreliable than i withdraw. If a friend is warm, open, appreciative than i am more emotionally drawn to the friendship.

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