Emotions - Motivation Theory

Can managers control the emotions of their colleagues and employees? No. Emotions are a natural part of an individual’s makeup. Where managers err is if they ignore the emotional elements in organizational behavior and assess individual behavior as if it were completely rational. As one consultant aptly put it, “You can’t divorce emotions from the workplace because you can’t divorce emotions from people.’’Managers who understand the role of emotions will significantly improve their ability to explain and predict

individual behavior.

Do emotions affect job performance? Yes. They can hinder performance, especially negative emotions. That is probably why organizations, for the most part, try to extract emotions out of the workplace. Emotions can also enhance performance. How? Two ways. First, emotions can increase arousal levels, thus acting as motivators to higher performance. Second, emotional labor recognizes that feelings can be part of a job’s required behavior. For instance, the ability to effectively manage emotions in leadership and sales positions may be critical to success in those positions.

What differentiates functional from dysfunctional emotions at work? While there is no precise answer to this, it has been suggested that the critical moderating variable is the complexity of the individual’s task. The more complex a task, the lower the level of arousal that can be tolerated without interfering with performance. While a certain minimal level of arousal is probably necessary for good performance, very high levels interfere with the ability to function, especially if the job requires calculative and detailed cognitive processes. Given that the trend is toward jobs becoming more complex, you can see why organizations are likely to go to considerable efforts to discourage the overt display of emotions—especially intense ones—in the workplace.

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