[D]o you think that the mood you have at work makes any difference? Most people would agree that a person’s professional appearance includes their disposition, so being obviously sad or angry at work is never good. Some would also agree that if a person keeps their outward appearance in check, they are doing their job professionally. The fact is, what is going on inside does have a lot to do with the quality of work that you will create – the mood you have plays a major role in how effective you are within your role.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]…the mood of a leader can directly impact on every other worker’s mood as well, since employees show a tendency to value the direction gained by those in power[/pullquote]
An ability to think cognitively requires a clear mind, and if your mood is overriding your brain, then this will not be possible. You might be able to go through the motions, but the level and quality of your output will surely suffer. Not only does a person’s own abilities suffer, but those whom the person manages (or team members) will also feel the impact of emotions that are not kept in check. These emotions can lead to moods including anxiety and stress in the workplace, which has a tendency of leading to illness and lost work through days off and in not being focused on the task at hand.
Research on the contagious ability that emotions have was undertaken by Sigal Barsade at Yale University (2001). The study noted that both individuals and groups can catch emotions that are displayed by others. It went on to note that the mood of a leader can directly impact on every other worker’s mood as well, since employees show a tendency to value the direction gained by those in power and use what therefore watch those in power closely within the workplace.
In a subsequent 2016 article in the Harvard Business Review written by Barsade and co-author Olivia A. O’Neill, they looked at many different industries to see the effect of workplace emotional culture. The article noted how emotional cultures within businesses can have an influence on teamwork, employee satisfaction levels and burnout. Creativity can be impacted across the team by a negative mood by a team leader, and engagement levels can decrease through employees not wanting to talk to a co-worker who is obviously in a bad mood.
Comparatively, the article noted that by displaying positive emotions at work will lead to better customer service, better performance and higher quality. Absenteeism across all industries was seen to increase where stress and anxiety were part of the mood at work and the mood culture could be seen to impact work performance and employee turnover.
What Leaders Can Do to Change Their Moods
The first step to keeping a bad mood out of the workplace is to recognize it when it happens. Once you know that your emotions could negatively impact on the staff and lead to decreased productivity and low employee morale, you can make steps to change your mood before going in to work. This can be done firstly by changing your facial expression, which is the first indication any of your employees will have to your mood. This is called the facial feedback hypothesis, and the key to making it work for you is by intentionally smiling. Using any emotion that is negative at work will require great skill, by carefully considering its impact and finding a way to lessen that impact by concentrating on getting your core message through without any negative emotion.
Better communication between managers and employees will help to eliminate instances of stress in the workplace; by giving thorough directions at the outset, there is a greater chance for the employee to meet expectations at the outset, thus reducing any stress from underperformance. Bringing in an outside mentor can help if the business is small and where there are no set procedures in place for managing employees. Consultants can teach managers techniques which can be used within the workplace, such as making an opportunity for a buddy system, or by creating exercise groups or giving gym memberships.
Examples of what companies have done to improve employees moods include Fitbit, who uses their own product in the workplace in the understanding that by increasing employee’s health levels, output will also increase and moods will be positive. Zappos shoe company offers their employees gym memberships and have nap rooms installed in their offices to allow for quick energy recharging naps to be taken by employees as needed.
The most important thing to remember is how you come across to another person, so looking in the mirror and practicing smiling will help you to start smiling when you know you should, even if you don’t want to. Such a change will act to make employees feel more secure, less anxious, and allow for the maximising of production in work.
About the Author
Shay Dalton is the Managing Director of Lincoln Recruitment Group. Shay is a qualified ACCA Accountant with over 20 years’ experience specialising in the placement of senior positions across a broad spectrum of Accountancy and Finance positions within the industrial and financial services sectors. Having been involved in the establishment of some of the most respected financial recruitment brands in the Irish market, Shay subsequently set up Lincoln Recruitment Specialists in 2008. He also hold’s an MSc in Organisational Management and is a member of BPS, qualified to conduct and interpret psychometric testing as well an EQi testing.