There’s a time and place for getting emotional

BY Cubiks

The office tyrant appears to be on the brink of extinction, and it would safe to assume that we would be glad to bid them good riddance. Anyone who has received a tirade of abuse from a furious boss will know exactly how damaging such emotional outbursts can be, particularly if they happen to take place in public.

Office environments that are characterised by regular emotional outbursts from staff will be destructive rather than constructive. As well as crushing the morale and self-esteem of the individual concerned, angry ranting simply gives rise to a business culture where individuals are reluctant to challenge ill-conceived ideas, do not take risks, bury bad news and avoid innovation for fear of failure.

“Most organisations now have very little time for highly strung managers.”

Managers need to be controlled, quiet, authoritative, confident, insightful and clear rather than intimidating. If someone has acted inappropriately, the manager must have a quiet word in their ear and explain how they have let themselves (and possibly others) down, rather than embarrass the person in public. They must create a quiet, collaborative environment where respect is generated through capability, results and openness.If tolerated, emotional outbursts soon become part of the organisational DNA as ambitious young managers are usually quick to mirror the behaviour of those they consider to be role models. Once engrained as part of normal working life within a company, frequent and unwanted emotional outbursts can be incredibly difficult to eradicate.

Thankfully, most organisations now have very little time for highly strung managers whose actions come very close to bullying and intimidation. They recognise that such actions can have a negative impact on a wide range of business operations such as employer branding and recruitment, not to mention the costly legal claims it can lead to.

However, this is not to say that there is no role for emotion in modern business. Fundamentally, we are all emotional beings and as such, we don’t always operate in a strictly rational manner.

People must be able to get passionate from time to time, but within the bounds of reason. Emotion really can be best used to positive effect when it is channelled towards securing employee engagement. There is a wealth of evidence to demonstrate that staff are significantly more productive when they are happy, engaged and have bought into the organisation’s guiding vision. However, communicating a vision is no mean feat and can’t always be achieved through the use of logical, well-structured messages. When seeking to inspire and motivate their teams, managers need to appeal to both the hearts and the minds of staff.

Therefore they shouldn’t be afraid to conquer their reserve and use some emotion when the time is right. Employees won’t want to hear tearful Oscar-style speeches, but they will appreciate seeing that their leaders really are committed to the business, and nothing can communicate this better than honest displays of emotion.

For example, at the start of a challenging project, managers should make clear to employees exactly what lies ahead, but also let staff know that they have full confidence in the team’s ability to do what is required. They should draw upon previous achievements of the team and explain how proud they were of the results that were achieved. At the same time, the manager should paint a clear vision of the future, help staff to understand why it’s important that they move in that direction and be very enthusiastic about what life will be like when they get there.

By investing some time and personal passion in gaining the commitment of their staff, managers will find that they can bring about change much more easily than through angry shouting.

The key message is that there is a time and a place for emotion in modern business, but it should be channelled for positive rather than negative effect. Don’t use emotion to chastise or humiliate, use it to motivate, energise and inspire. The results will speak for themselves.