The effects of personality and emotion on individual behavior and performance at work
Nowadays, it becomes increasingly clear to many managers that, unlike what it happened to be the case with non-human mechanistic systems, the dynamics within human systems (e.g. collectives of employees) do not solely concern the qualitative specifications of these systems’ integral elements, but also the varying aspects of an ‘interconnectedness’ between the elements in question. In its turn, this creates objective preconditions for the managers, in charge of ensuring the organization’s effective functioning, to shift the focus of their attention from finding a universally applicable ‘solution’ (to what they perceive constitutes a performance-impending problem within the managed organization), to identifying the problem’s discursive connotations. This is expected to increase the extent of stakeholders’ emotional accommodation with how the concerned problem may be resolved. Therefore, it is fully explainable why, as of today, the notion of an ‘emotional intelligence’ continues to be increasingly incorporated in the conceptual framework of currently deployed managerial practices, which feature qualitatively new leadership-paradigms.
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The validity of this suggestion can be well explored in regards to the recent publishing of a number of academic articles, the authors of which promote the idea that it is no longer acceptable for managers to proceed with addressing their professional duties in a strongly defined ‘authoritarian’ manner, and that the process of motivating employees must be emotionally charged. Nebelung’s (2010) article appears especially illustrative, in respect to what should account for a discursively legitimate theoretical premise, upon which the truly effective management-strategies must be based. According to the author, while addressing their professional tasks, managers may never cease acknowledging the full extent of the employees’ existential uniqueness. Hence, the notion of a ‘managerial love’, promoted throughout the article’s entirety, “We define ‘love’ here as a leader intention of wanting the best for all concerned: employees, shareholders, customers, community and society, including the environment” (50). As it appears from this article, the very specifics of a post-industrial living, establish discursive prerequisites for the value of ‘human resources’ to increase in an exponential progression to the flow of time. After all, people’s intellect has now attained a capacity to replace what has traditionally been referred to as a ‘physical capital’, in the literal sense of this word. This is the reason why, as of today, the more technologically intense a particular manufacturing process is, the less it is being resource-dependent.
In its turn, this has led Nebelung to outline what she considers the four foremost principles of a truly effective management: a) Respect – managers are expected to regard employees fully capable of operating in an unsupervised mode, and to take an active part in the executive decision-making process. b) Care – managers should be willing to apply extra efforts when the issue of ensuring the employees’ professional and personal (emotional) well-being is at stake. c) Understanding – managers should not only be making inquiries into what appear to be the objective factors, affecting the quality of employees’ performance, but also into the subjective (emotional) ones, as well. d) Responsiveness – managers may never overlook the importance of addressing the employees’ concerns promptly and efficiently.
Nebelung concludes her article by suggesting that the time has come for the concept of management to cease being synonymous with the notion of supervision, and to become synonymous with the notion of an enlightened (loving) leadership instead. As the author pointed out, the very laws of a historical progress predetermine such an eventual development.
Essentially the same set of ideas is being promoted in Karp and Helgo’s (2008) article. According to the authors, the semantic dynamics within the contemporary managerial paradigm reflect: a) The process of a workforce becoming increasingly multicultural, which deems the rationale-based (euro-centric) approach to management discursively outdated. b) The fact that the employees’ perception of their professional and career-related goals is undergoing a continual transformation. c) The acknowledgement that recent breakthroughs in the fields of psychology, sociology and cybernetics imply the relativist significance of a number of different management-related guiding principles, which used to be assumed universally applicable in the past.
Therefore, it is being only the matter of time, before the managers’ foremost professional task will be referred to as such that is not being concerned with ensuring the employees’ orderly behavior, but rather with helping workers to explore their self-identities, “The notion of the leader (manager) as the one who is in control is not consistent with reality… Precious leadership time and effort will, in the future, be better spent on paying attention to identity and relationship issues” (33). It is needless to mention, of course, that this will require the deployed management-strategies to remain thoroughly acknowledgeable of how culturally and circumstantially defined emotions, on the part of employees, may affect the quality of their professional performance. Karp and Helgo conclude their article by outlining the main conceptual premise of what they refer to as a ‘emotionally intelligent’ leadership-paradigm, “Leadership is… thinking and feeling self in the presence of others through listening to one’s own bodily physical, cognitive and emotional responses and taking account of these in the act of management” (35). Even though this article does not contain any provisions, in regards to what can be considered an actual tool for assessing the effectiveness of an emotionally intelligent management, it does provide readers with a preliminary clue, as to what would the nature of ‘things to come’ with managerial theories in the future.
Diagnostics of personality and emotional competencies
As it was pointed out earlier, there are a number of objective reasons to believe that the extent of one’s professional competence reflects his or her varying ability to remain emotionally attuned with the emanations of the surrounding social reality. Therefore, when it comes to evaluating a particular individual’s professional performance, it is crucially important for the performance-analysis to be capable of reflecting the extent of an evaluated person’s intellectual flexibility. This is the reason why, while assessing the extent of my own compatibility with the notion of an effective management, I will focus on defining the measure of my emotional comfortableness with the idea of making constant inquiries into the situational subtleties of the employees’ existential positioning. The evaluation procedure would be concerned with filling out a questionnaire, containing the following set of questions:
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- Am I being fully capable of providing employees with circumstantially appropriate performance-facilitating incentives? Nowadays, became a well-established fact that the practice of increasing employees’ salaries does not necessarily result in improving the quality of their professional performance. The reason for this is apparent – as time goes on, the people’s attitudes towards the very notion of a ‘professional satisfaction’ continue to attain discursively new subtleties. In its turn, this presupposes that, in order for managers to be able to provide employees with good enough motivations to remain professionally committed, they may never cease paying a close attention to what account for the culturally defined characteristics of their subordinates’ sense of self-identity. Because I realize this perfectly well, there is indeed a good rationale for me to answer the above question positively.
- Am I being open to the idea that employees should be allowed to participate in the executive decision-making? As of today, there are a plenty of examples of commercial organizations having been able to substantially improve the extent of their functional competitiveness by the mean of making it possible for employees to take an active part in the process of manufacturing/marketing strategies being designed (Fonseca and McCarthy 56). Given my awareness of this and the fact that I do not believe in the validity of the ‘managerial authoritarianism’ concept, I will have no option but to answer this question positively, as well.
- Will I be willing to take into consideration the interests of all involved stakeholders, while addressing a conflictual situation? One of the reasons why some managers often prove themselves unable to resolve performance-impending conflicts, which periodically occur among employees, is that they tend to regard these conflicts incidental. In the light of what account for the realities of a modern living, however, this practice can no longer be considered appropriate, since the very notion of a ‘common interest’, which implies the accidentalness of corporate conflicts, has grown outdated. The realization of this fact will naturally prompt me to come up with a positive answer to the above question.
Because I was able to answer the earlier mentioned questions positively, there is indeed a good reason for me to believe that, once being assigned with the mission to improve the efficiency of a particular organization’s functioning, I will be able to choose in favor of a proper approach of how I would how about addressing the task.
Specific strategies for developing the workplace effectiveness
As it was illustrated earlier, I am being emotionally comfortable with the idea of an ‘enlightened management’, which presupposes the sheer outdatedness of euro-centric approaches to management, originated in the ‘wild capitalism’ era. In its turn, this makes it thoroughly logical for me to observe the provisions of the so-called Soft System Methodology (SSM), while ensuring the efficacy of my workplace. In his article, Checkland (2000) provides us with a clue, as to what represents the SSM’s foremost conceptual premise, “We (SSM’s designers) had moved away from working with the idea of an ‘obvious’ problem which required solution, to that of working with the idea of a situation which some people, for various reasons, may regard as problematical” (15). Apparently, while assessing the significance of ‘real-world’ situations, we invariably do it from our highly subjective existential perspectives (reflective of the essence of the affiliated external circumstances), which affect the mechanics of our cognitive engagement with the surrounding reality. Hence, the consequential phases of the methodological framework for tackling ‘real-life’ problems, which I plan to resort to, while addressing my professional duties at the workplace:
- Assessing the discursive significance of a particular ‘real-world’ situation by the mean of measuring the complexity of its integral elements.
- Exploring the identified relations via the applicable models of purposeful activity, based on explicit worldviews.
- Conducting an inquiry into the situation in question, while using the models as a source of questions.
- Formulating an approach towards improving the situation by the mean of identifying the scope of possible ‘accommodations’ (versions of the situation, with which the concerned stakeholders may be more or less comfortable).
Once, the rationale for improving a particular situation/activity is being established, I will address the task by taking the following steps:
- I will identify the scope of activities that need to be carried out, in order to prepare the ground for the concerned improvement/transformation to begin taking place.
- I will select the activities that can be executed independently of others.
- I will select the activities, the successful execution of which depends on the efficacious implementation of the independent ones, and analyze the qualitative essence of emerging dependencies.
- I will reduce the number of established dependencies by removing the overlapping ones – hence, outlining the most resource-efficient method towards the transformation’s implementation.
As it can be seen from the above provided conceptualization of how I will go about increasing the efficacy of my workplace, the consequential phases of how I plan to have it done are being concerned with the application of a ‘soft’ systemic approach towards ensuring the effectiveness of would-be management activities, on my part. That is, instead of addressing my professional tasks from a rationale-driven ‘mechanistic’ perspective, which denies the validity to the idea that managers should be thoroughly aware of what account for their subordinates’ emotional leanings, I will do it from an ‘emotionally intelligent’ one. In its turn, this will result in my overall perceptual awareness of the surrounding workplace-reality being continually ‘updated’ – hence, establishing a rationale for me to be referred to as a professionally adequate individual. I believe that this conclusion is being consistent with the earlier deployed line of argumentation, in regards to what can now be considered the discursively appropriate indications of the managerial performance’s actual quality.
Checkland, Peter. “Soft Systems Methodology: A Thirty Year Retrospective.” Systems Research and Behavioral Science 17.3 (2000): 11-58. Print.
Fonseca, Brian and Jack.McCarthy. “Identity Management: Technology of Trust.” InfoWorld 25. 25 (2003): 54-61. Print.
Karp, Tom and Helgo Thomas. “The Future of Leadership: The Art of Leading People in a ‘Post-Managerial’ Environment.” Foresight: The Journal of Future Studies, Strategic Thinking and Policy 10. 2 (2008): 30-37. Print.
Nebelung, Lucira. “Leadership as Connection: A Radical Approach.” People and Strategy 33. 4 (2010): 48-52. Print.