Feelings in the Workplace – An Insightful Tool or the New “F” Word?

Crying, yelling, arguing, fighting.  Not ideal in any workplace.  So, when the Huffington Post asked Culture Engineered for tips to include in their article, Crying At Work Happens. Here’s How to Handle It, According To Experts, we stressed the importance of companies taking a broader approach to such events.  We have found excessive emotion in the workplace is often and indicator of larger, underlying issues.  Here are some things to consider when emotions erupt in your workplace.

What’s the frequency?

How often are employees overcome with emotion in your workplace?  Weekly?  Daily?  By the hour?  While emotions are a healthy part of the human experience, they are consuming and leave little time or energy for productivity.  Too frequent of outbursts can suggest a culture of enablement or a stressful underlying culture where emotions bubble up.  Such a workplace could benefit from training on managing emotions or communication, allowing for more proactive interactions rather than reactive.  On the other hand, companies without emotional displays are not necessarily best either.  Life is full of ups and downs.  Given the significant amount of time spend at work, odds are, emotions will sometimes get the best of us at the office.  Letting go in front of someone requires a certain level of vulnerability and trust.  These traits are found within most successful environments.  A workplace without emotion may indicate a lack of trust or an expectation of apathy and therefore may benefit from opportunities to interact outside of work.  Company picnics and office happy hours are a great start, but trust is built by leading with integrity and compassion.  Train and encourage managers to have meaningful conversations with employees and not shying away from emotional employees.

Is there a trend?

Where are the breakdowns stemming from?  If a select few are displaying signs of duress repeatedly, its less suggestive of a company-wide culture issue.  Review the surrounding factors of each event, identifying trends.  Are the same people involved with each episode?  Are outbursts more prominent in one department or role?  Unfortunately, we often fail to talk about the string of events leading up to an emotional moment instead focusing on the straw that broke the camel’s back.  If an employee becomes unhinged because she was warned about coming in late that morning, there is likely more to the story.  Is there a history between the employee and manager gave her the warning?  Has the employee struggled to get to work on time in the past?  Why? These discussions are extremely valuable, helping employees to develop skills needed to succeed as well as uncovering organizational challenges within the company that may be temporarily are prohibiting it from greatness.

Employee behaviors can be signs of potential larger, developing issues within a workplace.  Companies willing to assess their workplace from this perspective can expect to have a more honest, committed, and successful workplace as result.  It’s not always a fun process, but when done right, companies will almost always deem the process as worth-while.

Your company culture – an asset or barrier?  We’re here to help.  Contact a Culture Engineer today by clicking here.

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