Considering that many organizations are getting through several changes, structural modifications, strategic changes, implementation matters, evaluation processes, etc., during these times of change, the employees feelings and emotion are getting very important to look at. Many studies on employees during change have proved behavioral outcomes, like both negative or positive emotions. Some people, on one hand, believe that change is unnecessary, others are adapting to new conditions, or there are people who even perceive positive emotions that lead to coping with change. These research in the field explain the importance of the organizational culture during any occurring change. As the most of the living organizations (and by “living” I mean alive, with a strong pulse that drives emotions and implications at many levels), VTM also has demonstrated that it has an emotional pulse shaped by how employees behave themselves in their daily work.
Let’s delineate wich emotions help an organization to develop, and which ones hold it back. A good place to start is to understand the basic emotional models that can occur within an organization, wich can be both positive and negative ones: joy, love, anger, or fear (Phil Shaver, 1987).
JOY – Fostering a climate of fun and joy will help customers to feel this climate too (and have fun too);
LOVE – Cultivating a climate of affection, friendship, compassion, etc., will bring about greater teamwork, job satisfaction, less burnout;
ANGER – The American Psychological Association (apa.org) considers that letting anger manifest will actually escalate aggression, and will do more harm than good. The same researchers consider that “It’s best to find out what it is that triggers your anger, and then to develop strategies to keep those triggers from tipping you over the edge.” (apa.org)
FEAR – a possible fear of making mistakes, not knowing things, etc., can inhibit some employees; this can be overcome very carefully by managers, by constantly communicating with staff and making them feel they are on the right track. Managers must be very attentive to what they communicate and how they communicate. Many mistakes in that area will destroy relationships, teams, and will escalate fear.
Analyzing some cultural traits within a few organizations, I have noticed that there is a very interesting situation: the two above mentioned positive emotions balance one another out, causing sometimes one of the negative feelings among employees. I have observed a culture of joviality, expressed many times by jokes and/or funny arguments, and this situation coexists with a feeling of collegiality, offering help and advice whenever somebody needs it. These two emotions can lead to varying outcomes, unfortunately sometimes to anger (due to, for example, doing someone else’s job based on friendship and compassion, and not beeing recognized conformingly) or fear (due to miscommunicating things or misunderstanding some strategic issues). Sometimes employees even express their emotions spontaneously at work (due to joviality, for example).
In order to overcome negative emotions, we feel there is a need to adopt a new solution:
“Fake it till you feel it”!!!
“Social psychology research has long shown that individuals tend to conform to group norms of emotional expression, imitating others out of the desire to be liked and accepted” (Barsade, S., O’Neal, O., Manage Your Emotional Culture, 2016). Therefore, it becomes critical for every and each individual to express positive emotions in order to “contaminate” the strategic emotional expression of the organization. This means to sometimes disregard true feelings and try a “covering acting”, that in time, will become an “in-depth acting”. Let’s take an example: if a manager suddenly asked a subordinate to take one of his/her responsibility, and gets a quick “no” answer, instead of getting angry and responding in accordance with his/her managerial authority, the manager will NEED TO engage himself/herself in an “in depth acting” to change its immediate feelings into genuine caring. Therefore, the manager would have instead, an “empathetic” discussion (preferably face-to-face) with the subordinate to find out his/her reasons that brought out this situation (Attention! In some cases, an employee may opose his/her supervisor’s order, because he/she doesn’t consider it part of his/her job or doesn’t want to do the work. The best way to find out the reasons behind this conduct is to look at the circumstances first). A genuine, free, and transparent disscution (communication) can solve many issues. Moreover, an organizational culture could be much stronger if employees become truly to believe in the values behind that culture (principles, duty, proffesionalism, honesty, friendship, and the list may go on… and on…)!
It is the duty of every employee to channel positive feelings and cultivate those feelings in order to deliberately change other people’s mindset and to manage problems in order to have a convenient outcome for both organization and people whithin that organization.
Meanwhile just fake positive feelings and behaviors, till you can positively influence others!