Employees Feelings Really Matter!

09/06/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

The majority of middle managers believe their job is to hit the numbers. But far fewer are comfortable with the idea that their job is to hit the numbers by keeping their people involved and enthused in bad times as well as good.

The importance of managing employees effectively becomes clearer if we ask: Which organization will hit its numbers?
One in which employees say, No one cares about what's happening to me. I hate coming to work,
or one in which people say, We're a really strong team, with everyone pulling together. This is a good place to be.

Managers need to recognize how people feel

While organizations and most managers prefer to deal with facts which are neat and measurable, in terms of people it's the messy feelings that really matter. People's desires, hopes and fears are much more powerful than facts in determining how they react and behave. That's clearly true at work where the environment is made up of the more powerful and more powerless, the more influential and the more ignored...This makes Kissing Up normal and straight-forward communication rare. As a result, people's behavior is a thousand times more informative about how people feel -- and therefore how they will behave -- than what they say.

There are three general areas managers need to be especially observant about: behavior at work; how people relate to their manager; and how they interact with peers and colleagues.

Here are some examples of what to look for:

Positive Attitudes...:
There's a hum of enthusiastic discussion
Knowledge is shared
People challenge in order to get solutions
Deadlines are met
People are creative and curious

Negative Attitudes:

Overall, it's pretty silent
Knowledge is hoarded
There is "Consensus" or "kissing up."
Deadlines are met by excuses
People are apathetic

Positive Relations with Their Manager
There's mutual respect and trust
Discussions are face to face
Relations are collegial
Both parties learn from each other
The manager is seen as transparent

Negative Relations with their Manager:

Mistrust and no respect
Interactiosn are avoided
Relations are resentful
Communication is top-down
The manager plays games

Positive relations with Colleagues
People want to respect & like co-workers
Collaboration flourishes
People interact informally
Knowledge and skill create leaders
The world is a meritocracy

Negative Relations with Colleagues:

Everyone competes
Politics revails
Each individual is isolated
"Leaders" are in powerful jobs
Influence & connections matter

The facts are very powerful: when employees are very enthusiastic and involved, the organization succeeds in terms of financial outcomes. The current terms for these feelings are Commitment and Engagement. When people are committed they are proud of their organization and when they are engaged, they see their work as contributing to the organization's mission, which they strongly believe is important.

Commitment and Engagement are so powerful that high positive scores on measurements of them predict financial success. The reverse is also true: strong negative scores of Not Committed and Actively De-Engaged predict failure. That's why organizations need to sustain powerful positive feelings about the organization and the work it does in bad times as well as good.

Today, in most organizations, there's vastly more fear and anxiety than joy and optimism. That's seriously bad. While success and recognition generate positive attitudes and energy, failure and non-recognition deplete and exhaust people. Organizations' must get fear and anxiety levels down, and replace those feelings with a sense of hope, the purposefulness of a united and supportive community, and a conviction the future will be better.

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