I’ve just been away from home on business for a couple of nights. On Tuesday night I was in a hotel in London – more about my customer experience there tomorrow, but one issue was that the television in my room didn’t work, so I read a little and had lots of time to think. I was reflecting on Valentines day and the reasons why I love my wife (awwww). I concluded that it’s both rational and emotional. It’s because we have a rapport, we have similar interests and views and we often think in a similar way (although we do sometimes disagree and argue!) – reasons that are all rational and logical. AND there are other reasons that are nothing to do with logic, they’re emotional and I find it very difficult to explain them, it’s just how I feel, it’s all about my emotions. 

The relationship employees have with their employer is the same. It’s partly driven by conscious and rational thoughts about what they see, hear and feel about their work environment and experience i.e. the more tangible stuff, and it’s also emotional i.e intangible. An employee may not without help even be able to articulate why they feel how they do, but those feelings are real nevertheless.

This presents two problems in organisations or more specifically, for its leaders and managers:

  1. The balance between logical thinking and emotion is out of kilter in some organisations. It’s important to have both but when one dominates, it’s usually logic. In extreme cases emotion and intuition can even be seen as a sign of weakness. Consequently whilst employee engagement might be considered important the approach to it is flawed because it fails to engage people emotionally. This can be seen in some organisations where there is no understanding or reference to the emotions the organisation wants to evoke as part of the employee experience. It just doesn’t appear on the radar of the organisational culture.
  2. It requires leaders to be emotionally intelligent. Because our emotions are individual and because the way in which they form is driven by our values and beliefs and our previous experiences they are unique to each one of us. When a leader believes that anothers emotions are ‘wrong’, because they’re different from their own, there’s a problem. Engaging people is about acknowledging different emotions and recognising them by adopting different approaches to stimulate the right employee experience emotions. My view is that Diversity is actually more about acknowledging different thoughts and emotions as valid than it is meeting legal requirements. And it isn’t a moral imperative, it’s about efficient and effective business performance – but that’s perhaps for a future blog.

Employee engagement programmes must connect rationally and emotionally. Does yours?

LinkedIn: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/timhadfield
Blog: http://everythingengagement.blogspot.com/
Twitter: @accordengage