Measuring Emotional Culture
The Untapped Powerhouse of Organizational Success
Numerous elements drive organizational success, from the right product and place to the ideal team and timing. Yet, an often overlooked, integral factor is workplace culture. Do you know the emotional culture of your organization?
Organizations across industries aim to maintain their unique edge, but as Herb Kelleher from Southwest Airlines insightfully noted, “All airlines have airplanes.”
According to Kelleher, “We’ve never had layoffs. We could have made more money if we furloughed people. But we don’t do that. And we honor them constantly. Our people know that if they are sick, we will take care of them. If there are occasions of grief or joy, we will be there with them. They know that we value them as people, not just cogs in a machine.”
So consequently, culture matters.
Culture, in a business sense, can be viewed as the alignment between an organization’s strategy and the behaviors and thought processes of its employees. A pivotal HBR article from 2016 distinguished between Cognitive Culture and Emotional Culture. It revealed the concerning reality: while many organizations meticulously manage cognitive culture, emotional culture is often neglected. The fallout? Health care professionals becoming callous, teams in other sectors fostering anger, and risk-takers in investment banking acting recklessly, especially during organizational shifts and economic downturns.
Diving into the Essence of Emotional Culture:
To discuss and understand the concept of emotional intelligence and emotional culture, first we need to look at the underlying science of emotions. Why do we react the way we do, how does others’ behavior impact us the way it does?
We all experience a wide range of pleasant and unpleasant feelings at work as we interact with colleagues, customers, suppliers and others. These feelings influence our decisions, behavior and performance.
Pleasant feelings, for instance, encourage us to think expansively, engage deeply, and excel in our roles.
Unpleasant emotions tend to have a ‘narrowing and limiting’ effect, causing us to be more closed-minded, less engaging and poorer at performing. Collectively, these emotions impact the bottom-line for better or worse.
Let’s start with positive/pleasant emotions. Think about your experiences in the workplace for a moment. When people feel relaxed at work, they tend to be solution focused. When they feel involved, they often promote the brand. When they feel cared for by the company, they go above and beyond in the level of discretionary effort they put towards the company. Finally, employees that are empowered are often the hardest working and innovative team members.
Conversely, let’s look at negative or unpleasant emotions. When people feel anxious, they are more likely to be reactive. When stressed, we can become aggressive. It’s human nature. When an employee feels fearful, they can sometimes blame others. Finally, when people feel disempowered, they can assume a lack of responsibility and ownership for their work. We’ve all been there.
Research underscores the correlation between positive emotions and organizational performance. High-performing organizations consistently report higher positive emotions among their employees (Boedker et al., 2011). The pivotal question then arises: why aren’t more organizations channelling efforts to gauge and enhance their emotional culture?
How to Tap into Emotional Culture:Many companies deploy engagement surveys, but their confidentiality often hinders genuine feedback. Other innovative approaches include wearables that capture non-verbal cues. Yet, the most direct approach remains Emotional Culture Surveys. These tools, like the Emotional Culture Index evaluate:
- Experienced emotions
- Expected emotions
- Ideal or desirable levels of emotions
When you understand how your people are feeling, how they’d ideally like to feel and where the gaps are – you can do something about it. It allows you to more easily understand where the differences are – so you can be informed in making decisions for your L&D, training and development of your teams and workplace culture. You can continue to strive to be a great place to work.
We’d like to give you the opportunity to do so by experiencing The Emotional Culture Index.
The Emotional Culture Index is designed to measure three dimensions of emotions at work:
- Current state – How often your people experience certain feelings at work.
- Expected state – How often your people think its fair and reasonable to experience these feelings at work given the nature and context of your workplace.
- Ideal state – How often your people think they should ideally experience these feelings in your workplace in order to be effective.
It also allows participants to share confidential free text responses on key areas. It takes only a few minutes to complete and you will receive a report with its findings and have the opportunity to discuss privately with me, a Certified Emotional Intelligence Practitioner.
Stepping into the Future: As we enter into a world of AI, automation and machine led learning, our ability to feel and be human is what makes us unique. We urge you to take a proactive step today: unravel the layers of your organization’s emotional culture.
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