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The role of emotions in workplace Essay Sample

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The role of emotions in workplace Essay Sample

Q1. The role of emotions in workplace. Do you think we can separate them from the workplace? Discuss.

Ans. The modern workplace is often assumed to be a strict work place where there is no place for the experience and expression of emotions. However, in reality, emotions play a very significant role here.  Izard (1993) stresses that the experiential component of emotions—the experience of pain, anger, and joy—is central and manifests itself as an action tendency, a biasing of perceptions, or a feeling state. Happiness, for example, implies that things are going well.  A feeling of contentment at work may reflect a job well done. And emotions like fear, anxiety and worry are negative emotions.

To understand the role of emotions, the term emotional intelligence was coined by Salovey and Mayer in 1990 describing it as “a form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and action”. And today,”emotional intelligence” has found its way into companies, offering employees various means to come to terms with their feelings — and to perform better.

Industrial/organizational (I/O) psychologists and other applied researchers have been busy developing theories in areas such as job satisfaction; new perspectives on affect have begun to reshape the domain (Fisher, 2000; Judge & Hulin, 1993; Weiss & Cropazano, 1996).  Also other study areas have been leadership and  group processes which are relevant to issues like employee violence and employee reactions to organizational justice.

Positive and Negative Behaviors: In Fredrickson’s (1998) “broaden-and-build” theory, she maintains that positive emotions are important as they broaden attention and create situations where cognitive, physical, and social resources can be built and promote a number of important organizational processes, such as skill building, creativity, effective social relations, organizational commitment, collective orientations, and pro social behaviors. Fredrickson also notes that positive emotions serve as an antidote to the harmful physiological and cognitive effects of negative emotions.

Figure 1 show that emotions at workplace at be studied at five levels (Neal M. Ashkanasy)

Motivation: Emotions play an integral role in motivation. Individual differences in emotional tendencies importantly shape an individual’s goals in an organization. The influence of emotional reactions to organizational events, such as downsizing, may lower a personal commitment to organizationally desired goals and, in turn, job performance. Also, Individual differences in the regulation of different emotions, such as anger and boredom, play a central role in the effective pursuit of goals that involve sustained attention effort.

Emotions and Information Processing: It has been found that the style of information processing is influenced by both- moods and emotions. Strong emotions can short-circuit cognitive processing, which can often be too cumbersome, too excessive, and too inconclusive for action. So, it is important to examine how specific emotions (fear, anger, pleasure) and specific types of cognitive processes (object perceptions, memory) interact.

Emotions, Moods and Job Performance: People in highly emotional states have lower job performance, especially in the case of negative emotions. People showing high positive affectivity makes better decisions than those showing high negative affectivity.

Also  people report greater satisfaction with their jobs while they are in a good mood. In a good mood, a person judges the work of others more positively. People who are in a good mood also tend to be more generous and are inclined to help their fellow workers. However, it cannot be said that emotional intelligence alone is a strong predictor of job performance. Instead, it provides firm bedrock for competencies. Emotional intelligence or people skills – enhances your success, but it does not guarantee it in the absence of suitable skills.

Workplace stress is the harmful physical and emotional responses that can happen when there is a conflict between job demands on the employee and the amount of control an employee has over meeting these demands. Stress finally takes its toll in job dissatisfaction, employee turnover, reduced efficiency, illness and even death. Absenteeism, illness, alcoholism, petty internal politics, bad or snap decisions, indifference and apathy, lack of motivation or creativity are all by-products of an over stressed workplace. The following are the main causes

  1. Occupational Demand: High occupational demand areas are areas which require making frequent decisions, constantly monitoring devices or materials, repeatedly exchanging information with others, working in unpleasant physical conditions and performing unstructured rather than structured tasks and responsibility for others.
  2. Role Conflict, Role Ambiguity and Role Juggling: Role Conflict is defined as incompatibilities between the various sets of obligations people face. Rule Juggling is the need to switch back and forth between the demands of work and family. Role Ambiguity is the uncertainty about what one is expected to do on a job. All these lead may lead to workplace stress.
  3. Overload and Under load: This may arise due to Quantitative Overload, Qualitative Overload, Information Anxiety, Quantitative Under load and Qualitative Under load
  4. Lack of Social Support: The friendship and support of others helps minimize reactions to stress. Sources of social support could be Cultural norms, Social institutions, Friends and family
  5. Sexual Harassment-unwanted contact or communication of a sexual nature, usually against women.

No, we cannot separate emotions from workplace.  However, we can manage them effectively in

the organization. Thus, we find ways to increase positive emotions by altering organizational practices, social processes, or task designs and reduce negative emotions

HRM has a key role to play in developing Emotionally Intelligent Organizations

  1. Creating Better Leaders– Stimulating More Emotional Intelligence: It has been concluded time and again that effective leaders use more emotional intelligence competencies than other leaders. The theory of Self-Directed Learning developed by Goleman, Boyatzis, and McKee in 2002, guides each participant through this as shown in Figure below. The first discovery is one’s Ideal Self, that is – his/her dreams and aspirations finally developing them in a Personal Vision statement. In the second discovery participants works toward the awareness of their Real Self. After receiving feedback from a 360 assessment of emotional intelligence competencies,

participants analyze the results with personal coaches and then prepare a Personal Balance Sheet- an overview of their distinctive strengths, gaps (or weaknesses).  With the help of coaches, participants then convert their Personal Vision and Balance Sheet into a Learning Plan for their development as a leader– the third discovery in the process. The experimentation and practice taking place on the job constitutes the fourth discovery. The fifth and the final discovery is actually a continuous discovery throughout the entire process- which includes finding ways to work on the goals during work schedules, anticipating possible obstacles and finding ways to overcome them.

  1. Creating an Exciting Culture: The ultimate goal of the Breakthrough Leadership initiative was cultural transformation. We can bring cultural change in many ways. For instance, using Appreciative Inquiry large group meetings can be conducted where employees at all levels are brought at the same platform to tell stories about their best times in the organization, discuss and debate current topics and develop a learning agenda for the company by cross functional teaming. Thus helps the organization by practicing new leadership behavior using emotional intelligence, developing new culture while solving real problems and forming trusting relationships.

Specific Applications of Emotional Intelligence at Work :( Ability Model by David R. Caruso)

Career Development: Jobs that put you in contact with other people involve working in informal teams and require you to empathize with and understand others.  If you don’t have a high level of emotional intelligence, then you may find these careers to be difficult, or perhaps, less satisfying.

 Management Development: Emotional intelligence assists managers by making planning more flexible, motivating themselves and others and making more informed decisions.

Team Effectiveness: When you work in a team environment, the skills of emotional intelligence become even more important to your job.  One of the keys is to work effectively and efficiently with others.  Another way in which emotional intelligence can help you in your team work is to generate new and creative ideas and solutions to problems.

Selection Decisions: If you are interested in measuring job-related personality traits (optimism, motivation, anxiety, stress resistance, etc.), you could use standard personality tests, such as the California Psychological Inventory, NEO, or 16 PF- unique emotional skills.

Q2. Commitment and the constraints on that. Critically analyze the concept of commitment within organizational life. To what extent is it reasonable to expect individuals to be committed to the organization they work for?

Ans. The concept of employee commitment is the core of any analysis of Human Resource Management so much that it is the reason for introducing Human Resource Management policies. Organizational commitment refers to congruence between the goals of the individual and the organization whereby the individual identifies with and extends effort on behalf of the general goals of the organization. It is also seen as a psychological state that characterizes the employee’s relationship with the organization and has various behaviors. Over the past three decades, organizational commitment has become a much researched and debated issue. Meyer & Allen (1991), the most popular scientist in this field, has developed a framework that measures three different types of organizational commitment:

(a) Affective commitment refers to employees’ emotional attachment, identification with, and involvement in the organization. Employees with a strong affective commitment stay with the organization because they want to.

(b) Continuance commitment refers to employees’ assessment of whether the costs of leaving the organization are greater than the costs of staying. Employees who perceive that the costs of leaving the organization are greater than the costs of staying remain because they need to.

 (c) Normative commitment refers to employees’ feelings of obligation to the organization. Employees with high levels of normative commitment stay with the organization because they feel they ought to.

Linkage and their influence in an organization: Findings reveal that affective commitment has the strongest positive correlations with behaviors such as intention to stay and willingness to exert extra effort. On the contrary, the linkage between normative commitment and these behavioral consequences are weaker, and the correlations with continuance commitment are further weaker. Affective commitment, demographic characteristics including gender, age, educational level, and tenure does not produce strong and consistent relations. In developing of affective commitment in a big way thus there is a need to increase participation in decision making for all employees. Also early socialization (parental values and behaviors) shapes normative commitment. Thus a healthy social atmosphere triggers normative commitment. On the other hand, continuance commitment develops as a function of the various investments that an employee makes, resulting in, for instance, skills, status, job security, and pension rights. But, continuance commitment is also influenced by the employment alternatives which an employee may have.

Factors that build employee commitment


•          Understand their role

•           See how they add value

•           Feel challenged by their work

•           Have clarity about their goals



•          Feel part of a community

•           Believe the organization is viable

•           Experience a sense of team

•           Feel they are treated equally and fairly

•           Engage in dialogue with management






•          Understand the vision and plan for organizational growth

•           Feel a sense of stability

•           See that leaders are empathetic

•           Believe that leaders are in tune with their issues








•          Receive valuable information frequently

•           See managers as trustworthy and candid

•           Meet regularly with their manager and team face-to-face







To understand the clear role of Employee Commitment and how it benefits an organization, we shall analyze the following linkages

Job Satisfaction and Commitment

It is commonplace that well constructed and validated scales of job satisfaction serve as a crucial source for determining organizationally relevant behavior in individuals. Roznowski and Hulin maintain that low levels of job satisfaction create one (or a combination) of four types of undesirable behavior.

First, dissatisfied individuals may attempt to increase job outcomes by stealing, using work time to pursue personal tasks, or by moonlighting. Second, they may withdraw from the job psychologically as manifested in such behavior as not attending meetings, drinking on the job, or wandering about trying to look busy. Third, dissatisfied employees may practice behavioral withdrawal from the job as in absenteeism, turnover, or early retirement. Finally, employees may undertake specific change behaviors that attempt to alter the work

situation. On the contrary, it has also been witnessed that Organizational Commitment serves as a more important predictor than Job Satisfaction. In an interesting case study by Cole in 1971, it was observed that Japanese workers do not rate high on measures of job satisfaction when compared to workers in other countries such as the U.S. However, Japanese workers scored “better” on the measures usually hypothesized to result from higher levels of job satisfaction. This is due to the higher levels of commitment by Japanese workers which also means lower rates of absenteeism than American workers, work longer hours on average, and seldom use all of their allotted vacation time.

Organizational Commitment and Outcome Measures

In general, organizational commitment has been known to be a useful measure of organizational

effectiveness. Organizational commitment has the potential to predict organizational outcomes such as performance, turnover, absenteeism, tenure, and organizational goals. Organizational commitment has been found out to be a strong predicator for each of these outcome areas. Lou (1995) studied 109 workers and observed a positive correlation between the broad construct of organizational commitment and the outcome measures of supervisory trust, job involvement, and job satisfaction. The principal determinants of Organizational commitment were found to be perceived trust in the supervisor, an ability to be involved with the job and feelings of job satisfaction. Angle & Perry (1991) undertook a study to determine the effect that organizational commitment had on turnover. The participants included 1,244 bus drivers.

The research found out a negative relationship between turnover and organizational commitment. In short, employees who intended to leave the job were not committed to the organization. In another study, Wiener & Vardi (1980) found out a positive relationship between organizational commitment and the job and career commitment. Their participants included 56 insurance agents and 85 staff professionals. Lastly, a positive relationship has also been noticed between organizational commitment and the outcome measures of individual motivation, desire to leave, turnover, and job performance.

                        Organizational Commitment and Leadership Behaviors

A further study into the multidimensionality of organizational commitment reveals different relationships between commitment and relations-oriented and task-oriented leadership behaviors. In a study involving 763 employees, Becker (1992) discovered that employees’ commitment to top management, supervisors, and work groups contributed significantly beyond commitment to the organization.

Research work has also linked organizational commitment to leadership behaviors that are relations-oriented and task-oriented. It has been found out that employees who are allowed to participate in decision-making have higher levels of commitment to the organization. Again, if employees are treated with consideration, they would display greater levels of commitment. Bycio, Hackett, & Allen (1995) was the fist one to report positive correlations between the leadership behaviors of charisma, intellectual stimulation, individualized consideration, and contingent reward and affective, continuance, and normative commitment.

Everything seems so positive about the terms and implications of Organizational commitment for achieving organizational excellence. However, we must not ignore that it is a very long term organizational process and would involve serious HRM initiatives in Training, Motivation, Career Management, Counseling, Coaching, including development of an open and unbiased organizational structure with an effective employee feedback process and participation at grass roots. Besides other things, building Organizational commitments also implies plenty of monetary resources to aid organizational innovation.

            To examine the extent to which individuals can stay committed to an organization an organization must first understand the fact that a great work force must be managed as a long-term asset. Thus organization must try to avoid layoffs in temporary downturns excessive stringency in compensation, slash benefits to meet budgetary constraints.

On the contrary, it must build an environment of trust, motivation, understanding within the organization including employee friendly policies, competitive wage and salary scales, deep rooted vision and values, a committed and considerate leadership and management, career development plans for all employees and a non bureaucratic setup. Till such time that an employee is provided with a healthy organizational culture, job satisfaction with a sound career map for him, he would remain committed to the organization. These are the factors that an organization can control to keep the employee stick with it. However, there are factors which are beyond the control of organizations- related to the alternate opportunities available for him elsewhere or his personal life.

Q3. Leaders and managers their differences. `Leaders set the vision and managers just implement it`. Critically examine this statement and its implications for leadership theory and practice.

Ans. The words leaders and managers- are often used interchangeably, but they mean two different areas of Organization Development –though very close and intertwined. The changing business environment and the growth of HRM have induced further research into the significant role leadership plays and how managers need to implement leadership skills into their domain. A leader must possess all of the personality traits of a successful manager. And managers also need to have leadership qualities. The differences between the two concepts are many. Warren Bennis (1989) drew twelve distinctions between the two groups:

  1. Managers administer, leaders innovate
  2. Managers ask how and when, leaders ask what and why
  3. Managers focus on systems, leaders focus on people
  4. Managers do things right, leaders do the right things
  5. Managers maintain, leaders develop
  6. Managers rely on control, leaders inspire trust
  7. Managers have a short-term perspective, leaders have a longer-term perspective
  8. Managers accept the status-quo, leaders challenge the status-quo
  9. Managers have an eye on the bottom line, leaders have an eye on the horizon
  10. Managers imitate, leaders originate
  11. Managers emulate the classic good soldier, leaders are their own person
  12. Managers copy, leaders show originality

“Managers do things right. Leaders do the right things.”  The most important point of distinction between managers and leaders is that of focus. Great managers look inward into the company, individuals, and differences in style, goals, needs and motivation of each person. And then they guide employees towards the right path by releasing each person’s unique talents into performance. On the other hand, Great leaders look outward at the competition, the future, or the alternative routes forward.

Leaders are thus visionaries, strategic thinkers, and activators. Managers are entrusted with task management and leaders with vision making. Secondly, Good managers direct, supervise and manage the resources of an organization. A leader has a much more complex role – they inspire and influence people so that a company’s vision can be achieved. Thirdly, a manager is responsible for management, while leader is a deciding authority. Adair’s Action-Centered Leadership Model, 1973: The Adair model is that the action-centered leader gets the job done through the work team and relationships with fellow managers and staff.

                                                               Adair’s Action-Centered Leadership Model, 1973:


• define the task

• make the plan

• allocate work and resources

• control quality and rate of work

• check performance against plan

• adjust the plan



• maintain discipline

• build team spirit

• encourage, motivate, give a sense of purpose

• appoint sub-leaders

• ensure communication within group

• develop the group



• attend to personal problems

• praise individuals

• give status

• recognize and use individual abilities

• develop the individual


The famous three circle diagram is a useful tool for thinking what constitutes an effective leader/manager in relation to the job he/she has to do. The various circles may be big or small as the situation varies i.e. the leader will give more or less emphasis to the functionally-oriented behaviors according to what the actual situation involves. The challenge for the leader is to manage all sectors of the diagram.

While studying the other popular leadership theories, we find an evolving series of ‘schools of thought’ from “Great Man” and “Trait” theories to “Transformational” leadership. While early theories used to focus upon the characteristics and behaviors of successful leaders, later theories begin to consider the role of followers and the contextual nature of leadership.

`Leaders set the vision and managers just implement it`.  This statement is only partially correct.  It would be wrong to nullify the role of Management by limiting its function to only implementation. The statement is correct in the light that while senior leaders set the vision for the entire organization, a supervisor or line manager is mainly be concerned with implementing them at  department or  sectional level. Visioning is the beginning of Strategic planning. Once the leaders have set the organizational strategic plans, managers determine how best their department can bring about changes that will support those plans.

Effective management and leadership skills are crucial in today’s complex business environment. And though good management (setting goals, planning, motivating employees) is critically important in the day-to-day operation of an organization, it is not enough to help an organization move towards a vision or  in other words  to help managers also be leaders of change. A leader is someone who guides an organization and its people towards a future vision for the organization. A leader recognizes the opportunities inherent in organizational change and makes things happen to realize that change. A leader has integrity, credibility and instills the trust of others in the organization to move towards this organizational change.

Managers on the other hand must incorporate leadership in their days  to day activities i.e. have a vision about how the work in their area could be organized in order to improve efficiencies, or they may see an opportunity to move into a new area or create a new product in the interest of meeting the organization’s strategic goals. Creating vision requires a certain amount of creativity, thinking out-of-the-box, and freedom to explore. In this context, we need to study the role that good leaders and good managers must incorporate.

Role of a Leader: Leaders practice the five ‘Ls’ – they look, they listen, they learn, they lead and they laugh with their team to inspire people to their best. Leaders demonstrate commitment in words and deeds because it takes a long time for people to hear, understand and believe in what a leader says. The trust a leader demonstrates in his staff builds the employees motivation and commitment.

Great leaders also have a knack for building teams by setting realistic goals, providing guidance and feedback and empowering the team to do its best. Leadership’s vital role is “to create and expand the opportunities that empower people to pursue happiness for themselves.”  What sets them apart from managers is their caring attitude. In addition to providing feedback, they also listen to what their subordinates say and they take the time to discover the underlying issues. They help employees solve their own problems by providing an environment where people know they are accepted. Today imagination, professionalism, and openness are essential to leadership, not just leading change.

Role of a Manager: Managers act as a link between business objectives and the employee’s efforts. Basically, the role of a manager is planning, organizing, controlling, and leading.  But, more than these four things, Dessler says that “managers also wear various hats including the figurehead role, every manager spends some time performing ceremonial duties; the leader role, every manager must function as a leader, motivating and encouraging employees; the liaison role between their departments and other people within and outside the organization; the spokesperson role, the manager is often the spokesperson for his or her organization; and the negotiator role, managers spend a lot of time negotiating” .

Thus, a manager should have analytical competence (the ability to identify, analyze, and solve problems), interpersonal competence (the ability to influence, supervise, and lead), and emotional competence (the capacity to be stimulated by emotional and interpersonal crises and leadership qualities.  In this context James McGregor Burns compares Transactional vs. Transformational Leadership Transactional Leaders use rewards to motivate and focus on routine performance similar to managers subordinate, while in Transformational leadership, leaders broaden and elevate the interests of their followers, generate awareness and acceptance of the purposes and mission of the group or stir followers to look beyond their own self-interest for the good of others. These leaders use charisma, vision, courage, inspiration, intellectual stimulation, and concern for individual while coping with complexity, ambiguity and uncertainty.

To study a practical example, we put in the example of Philips Six Leadership Competencies that define the behaviour that is required to achieve business success in Phillips. The company practices a balanced approach, stating both the importance of task aspects as well as recognizing that results are obtained through people. Philips leadership competencies are: determination to achieve excellent results, focus on the market, find better ways, demand top performance, inspire commitment, and develop self and others.

Thus, we study that good managers are not necessarily good leaders and good leaders are not always the best managers. The two while often connected are not the same although some of the best qualities of good managers are also the best qualities of good leaders.  Hence, we need to have both effective Leadership and Management in organizations.


[1] Emotional intelligence definition, retrieved from http://www.proactive-coach.com/emotional/index.htm

[2] Applying the ability model of emotional intelligence to the world of work by David R. Caruso, Ph.D., retrieved from http://www.cjwolfe.com/article.doc

[3] The Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations, http://www.eiconsortium.org/index.html

[4] Emotions and Organizational Behavior by Robert G. Lord and Ruth Kanfer

[5] Occupational Stress, retrieved from http://www.caut.ca/en/publications/healthandsafety/OccupationalStress.pdf

[6] Emotions in Organizations: A Multilevel Perspective by Neal M. Ashkanasy, PhD

[7] My HR Network (Re-energizing Your Organization after Layoffs), retrieved from


[8] Employees’ Organizational Commitment and Their Perception of Supervisors’

Relations-Oriented and Task-Oriented Leadership Behaviors by Barbara B. Brown, retrieved from http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/theses/available/etd-04072003-224349/unrestricted/BarbaraBrown-4-22-03.pdf

[9] Assessing the Effects of Organizational Commitment and Job Satisfaction on

Turnover: An Event History Approach by Scott D. Camp, Ph.D, retrieved from http://www.bop.gov/news/research_projects/published_reports/cond_envir/oreprcamp_pj1.pdf

[10] weLEAD Online Magazine, retrieved from http://www.leadingtoday.org/Onmag/nov02/vt-nov02.html

[11] Leadership, retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leadership

[12] Good Manager or great leader, retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leadership

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