Africa’s Leading Expert on Productivity
Speaker | Author | Productivity Coach

“Affect” is another word for “emotion” in organizational behavior studies. Affect or emotions matter because employees’ moods, emotions, and overall dispositions have an impact on job performance, decision making, creativity, turnover, teamwork, negotiations and leadership.

Each time we talk about workers in the workplace, it is vital that we put the following truths into consideration:

  • First, organizations are made up of people.
  • Then these people are not isolated ‘emotional islands’. They are connected, intricately.
  • People appear at work with all they are: their traits, moods, emotions, skills, talents, etc.
  • These traits are transmitted “wirelessly, but effectively” to other people.

Each time people come to work, they come with all they are. They literally bring all of themselves to work, including their traits, moods and emotions, and their affective experiences and expressions influence others.

Manager and employers must realize that the 21st century poses a different challenge in the workplace. Recent research and analysis of organizational productivity has revealed emotional intelligence as a very important concept for productivity. It has become established now that an employee’s emotion is vital to what happens within an organization.

In fact, in the words of Barsade, “feelings drive Performance”. Nothing can be truer.


Research suggests that positive people tend to do better in the workplace, and it isn’t just because people like them more than others who are negative. Positive people cognitively process more efficiently and more appropriately. If you’re in a negative mood, a fair amount of processing is going to that mood. When you’re in a positive mood, you’re more open to taking in information and handling it effectively. That definitely boosts productivity.

People, irrespective of who they are or where they work, can be compared to emotional conductors, or emotional transmitters- receivers. This means that whether people are in direct contact with other people or not, emotion transfers keeps happening all the time. Each individual can be likened to a signal station empowered with both transmitting and receptive capabilities for emotions.

It is important to state that while some people are better than others at controlling their emotions, that doesn’t mean their coworkers aren’t picking up on their moods.

It is possible to think that one is not showing emotions but there is a good chance that one is in one’s facial expression or body language. It is possible that emotions we don’t even realize can influence our thoughts and behaviour. Such is the deceptive nature of emotions.

Emotions as Valuable Data

Businesses are beginning to tread paths that educators and psychologists have been used to over the years.  For instance, Business Schools are beginning to teach executives how to be emotionally intelligent, and how to manage the emotions of their employees.

The idea behind emotional intelligence in the workplace is that it is a skill through which employees treat emotions as valuable data in navigating a situation. Let’s say a sales manager has come up with an amazing idea that will increase corporate revenues by up to 200%, but knows his boss tends to be irritable and short-tempered in the morning. Having emotional intelligence means that the manager will first recognize and consider this emotional fact about his boss.

Despite the stunning nature of his idea — and his own excitement — he will regulate his own emotions, curb his enthusiasm and wait until the afternoon to approach his boss.

Avoiding negative emotional contagion

While you can’t necessarily change your coworkers, you can take steps to avoid catching a negative mood. You can tell yourself before attending going to work that you will not be bothered by that negative staff who shoots down at you each time your paths cross. This is the concept of deliberate neglect- which is a vital tool for promoting focus and ultimately productivity.

There is this story of a manager who was dragged down at the start of every day when passing by the desk of an employee who either grunted or gave no acknowledgement. The manager took control and simply started following a different route through the office.

Thus, an understanding of how these affective experiences and expressions operate and influence organizational outcomes is an essential piece in understanding how work is done and how to do it better.

Emotions play a key role in productivity. And, the earlier one recognizes this, the better.




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