Why Mood Matters in the Workplace

Feb 05, 2018
Management
As Featured In 
Academy of Management Review

How Moods and Emotions Add Up to Organizational Effectiveness

Sure, people’s moods factor in to how their workday goes, but until now, research has largely ignored how feelings and emotions collectively affect organizational outcomes on the whole.

The research finds that organizations that harness employees’ moods and feelings — and actively manage and help workers with disruptive emotions — outperform organizations that ignore emotions or force members to suppress undesirable ones.

Myeong-Gu Seo, a management professor at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, worked with Michael Parke of London Business School to study just how much emotions and moods play into an organization’s overall climate, and how that climate affects big-picture organizational relationship-building, productivity, creativity and reliability performance.

Organizational climate — the “feel” of organization determined by the practices, policies, procedures, routines and behaviors that are expected and rewarded — has long been recognized as a critical determinant of organizational effectiveness. And a big factor that determines an organization’s climate is “employee affect,” an umbrella term encompassing employees’ moods and emotions, say the researchers.

Whether intentionally or unintentionally, the researchers say company practices, leaders and routines together create environments that encourage certain types of emotional experiences or expressions among employees, specific uses of desirable emotions for functional goals, and particular ways to manage undesirable emotions and moods.

Seo and Parke identified six different mood-based climates — ranging from workplaces that suppress positive, negative or any display of emotion, to those that welcome positive, negative or all authentic emotional experiences and expressions — and how each can impact organizational outcomes. They offer advice for how company leaders and managers can meet specific strategic goals by developing specific emotional climates that support them.

Managers should assess their organization’s climate and make sure that it aligns with their strategic goals, say the researchers. If it doesn’t, managers should be more intentional and strategic in helping to shape the climate, and if necessary, take actions to change the existing climate or to try to establish a more beneficial one from the outset.

Read more: “The Role of Affect Climate in Organizational Effectiveness” is featured in the Academy of Management Review.

About the Author(s)

Myeong-Gu Seo

Myeong-Gu Seo is Associate Professor of Management and Organization at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business. His primary areas of research regard issues relating to work-related emotions, organizational- and institutional-change. Seo received the 2001 Best Doctoral Student Paper from the Academy of Management's Organizational Development and Change Division.

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