Why should we be concerned about how our staff feels at work?
Surely there are more important issues to turn our attention to such as sales or marketing and operations, than team feelings and emotions?
The truth is our brains are wired to process emotions in order of significance. Fear and inherent threat take top priority. If leaders are not aware and do not deal with strong "away states" in a team environment, they cannot be effective influencers with those they lead.
Individuals are wired to protect themselves from "danger" first and foremost, so they will only be able to focus on the goals that are set if the threats inside their workplace or uncertainty from external factors are reasonably low to non-existent. When leaders are aware of what takes top priority in terms of emotional processing by the brain, they can then shape their ability to influence. This is the #1 secret for team success.
Employee 'Emotional Climate' Model
In any given moment, an employee is deciding what to focus on, what something means and what action to take based on the meaning they have given to their perceptions. This is the foundation to their thought and emotion which form either a positive or negative emotional climate.
This is important because, how an employee feels personally and what meaning they give to events at work equals team morale, productivity and engagement levels!
How Does A Leader Or Manager Influence This?
Fear is processed as a top priority more than any other emotion in the brain. Remaining in a heightened fear based state changes how an employee thinks, their ability to make decisions, think efficiently and also how effective there manager is at influencing their behaviour.
When leaders are aware of and build a culture characterised by 5 specific elements, of which I speak on in length through my framework of "relationship management", they setup the conditions responsible for motivation, insight and willingness to do more than expected.
The biggest mistakes leaders tend to make is simply trying to motivate the visible behaviour, and not surfacing the catalysts that actually drive poor culture and poor behaviour.
While it is possible to lead and motivate using a confluence of threats, harassment and criticism, all relying on fear to get work done, this doesn't mean that it is going to be better work.
Building a positive culture and communicating through a "language of leadership" drives staff behaviour in a way that engages employees to certain projects and allows them to remain fully immersed in their work from day to day.
Remove The Obstacles That Are Typically Unknown Or Unseen By A Leader
By removing the unseen and unknown barriers of a negative workplace climate, leaders improve the dynamics of high performance, commitment, cohesiveness, creativeness and productivity. It is important to note that while we may see the effects of poor behaviour, many leaders are unaware of the causes to an individual's actions. Up until recently, we have not been able to give a tangible language of specific social behaviour in the workplace that elicits a threatening response. Awareness is key for all leaders.
Management can begin by taking an assessment of the dynamics of their team's working environment that might illuminate contributors to the inherent "threats" of social behaviour in the workplace.
- How well do your leaders build a culture grounded in inspiration not fear, control or feeling devalued?
- How do your leaders manage themselves and others during turbulence and uncertainty?
- How effectively does your team deal with conflict (do leaders demonstrate active listening and empathy?)
- How effectively do your leaders give feedback? Effectiveness of feedback is in a leaders ability to not devalue an employee and at the same time encourage commitment to new actions
There are no "disengaged people". There are people in environments that become disengaged. PS. you control the environment
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