Coming from the perspective of positive psychology, John is biased towards the inherent power of emotion and thought. These are unknowingly among the top reasons for failed attempts to improve corporate productivity and culture. Everything that has ever been created by humans began as a thought and was fueled by emotion – passion, desire, courage and perseverance.
On the other hand…
Fear: Fear and anxiety paralyze change initiatives.
Anger: Culture changes are sabotaged due to intense resentment and long-held grudges. Failed projects begin to pile up due to residual anger and back-stabbing between executives.
Sadness: Resignation and hopelessness stall attempts to improve productivity, sales, and ongoing improvement.
Without a legitimate and thorough understanding of the emotional minds of your employees, you are at the mercy of their emotions.
The emotional brain (which is associated with the amygdala) has been in existence in human beings for 3 to 10 million years. On the other hand, the rational brain (which is associated with the prefrontal cortex) has only been around for roughly 50,000 to 1 million years.
The emotional brain has been through countless revisions and is nearly perfect in its ability to keep humans safe and act as a general guidance system (approach vs. avoidance). The emotional brain is faster and has the ability to hijack the rational brain when danger is sensed. ‘Danger’ is based on our perceptions and can vary widely based on the individual.
The rational brain is still in the earliest stages of revision on an evolutionary scale. It is fallible, prone to mistakes in thinking, and can be overpowered by the emotional brain in a matter of 33 milliseconds.
Without doubt, we are all a combination of the rational and emotional brains. The tricky part is finding ways to teach the rational and the emotional sides to work together in cooperation so as to maximize productivity and allow for constructive change in the workplace.
To this end, I’ve been developing research-backed tools to teach groups to manage their emotional mind, and not merely to turn down the volume on negative emotions such as fear, anger and sadness, but to turn UP the volume on positive emotions such as awe, pride, curiosity, interest, relaxation, happiness and amusement.
My discovery is that merely learning to manage the negative emotions is necessary but not sufficient to increase employee productivity, cooperation, teamwork and innovation. Positive emotions serve to broaden and build. Positive emotions enable us to think outside the box, to act in new ways, to create and innovate.
It’s one thing to deal with the negative emotions in your workforce. It is much more difficult to learn ways to cultivate the positive emotions which will spark new ideas and facilitate new, more productive behaviors.