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Emotional Or Emotionless

We all perform better when we are emotional about our goals. Think of the star athletes who have “upped” their game after dedicating their performance to a brother, sister, parent or grandparent. They’ve put emotion into their efforts and reached higher levels than they’ve previously hit. I’m sure we’ve all seen employees use emotion to earn that extra bonus or raise. Most employees significantly raise their output the two weeks before evaluation time in hopes of impressing the boss.

If you as a manager can tap into an employee’s emotions, that employee’s performance will increase, and the company’s profits will increase.

So what level of emotion do your employees display? Some employees present unemotional behavior. These are the ones who don’t understand emotional employees and when they see emotional outbursts, they do their best to really hide theirs. What’s the problem? These employees can come across to their peers as uncaring and not showing any sensitivity to the feelings of others. In a business environment, these are the employees who might be excluded from meetings or department decisions because of their minimizing the feelings of others.

These employees prefer detached supervision, but if given too much leeway, they sink further into the unemotional state. How do we manage this type of employee? First, we use a low-key unemotional manner. We emphasize the practical side of things and use logic when explaining job requirements and during their performance evaluations.

On the other end of the scale are the employees who wear their emotions on their sleeve. These individuals are very genuine in their feelings and they can take everything personally in the work environment. The issue with these employees is that sometimes their need to express their emotions can get in the way and often they can slow the workday down to almost a halt for an entire department. As they express their emotions and look into the feelings of others, meetings can go on forever because they want to hear everyone’s thoughts. Sometimes if they think a meeting is becoming a little stiff, they’ll drop the business equivalent of a hand grenade just to liven things up. These types of emotional employees need to be allowed to express their feelings and be allowed to work out any emotional responses, but in a way that keeps them focused on the ultimate goal: job performance.

Our third group of employees fall in between the extremes. These are the employees who can strike a balance between detachment (lack of emotion) and emotional involvement. These individuals can be your star performers. They combine logic and practicality with sympathy, empathy and an overall understanding of other employees’ feelings. As a manager, you need to be aware of their ability to balance their emotions, and you should only interfere on those rare occasions when they seem to get out of balance. You will always have some employees who try to sway this group to one extreme or another, and that’s when you, as their manager, need to step in to keep the balance. These employees want you to recognize their feelings—but be careful not to over-react. Think objectively (not subjectively) in your discussions.

How do you identify the level of a person’s emotions? There are a few possible ways to identify these characteristics, that I’ve used in the past. One way is to simply ask the employee. A second way to identify the emotional level is to have him or her take an assessment—a tool that can help identity emotionality. A third possibility, and generally the hardest (but a lot of managers try this), is to simply observe this person’s behavior! Is he or she detached, someone who wants low-key involvement in department activities, or maybe even someone who appears uncaring? All of these are signs of a person with low emotional involvement. Or, is he or she over-emphasizing personal feelings, is he overly sensitive, does she give responses that don’t fit the group? These would be signs of a highly emotional person. The middle, more balanced, group would show signs of being objective yet sympathetic—but not too much. These employees would tend to go with a logical response versus an emotional one.

Once you’ve found the level of your employees’ emotions in the workplace, you can then tie their performance in with a communication style to match theirs. We all know the correct level of emotion can make everyone a top performer.

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