How do you describe the concept of workplace emotions and how far it affects your professional and career growth?
VP Any workplace consists of people and with people, come varied emotions. However, the nature of workplace emotions, its causes, effects are vastly different from what an individual experiences in his personal life. At the workplace we interact with peers, subordinates and superiors and all the while, one has to limit his natural self and expression considering the workplace culture and other boundaries. At any instance, the employee has to keep in mind the fact that he is working in a team of Individuals, all of whom must be having their own unique role to play coupled with differing styles of expression. Matured and balanced people would avoid any extremities even while provoked to the slightest.
A professional is one who is able to control his emotions and express his opinions in a more subtle way, so that the substance of the communication is understood, without the emphasis on actual words spoken. We must remember that as we progress in our career, the ability to lead and manage the Interpersonal relations immensely determines our success. IQ has now been replaced with EQ, as the differentiating Factor. "A" type Players have a higher EQ which is evident in their day to day interaction while dealing with employees at any level. A leader is not only responsible for his own performance but is also accountable for the performance of his team. The ability to put your emotions to use and achieve the organizational objectives is an art, which one needs to master. This could be a gateway to climb the corporate ladder.
In reality is it possible to control your emotions all the time when you know you are spending more time at your workplace than your home?
VP It is a fact that these days, professionals are spending more time at work, whether at the work-place or even when they are off it. Personal time is being forsaken for the sake of work. This has led to today's dilemma of work-life balance. It is no more a matter of choice to control one's own emotions; rather a prerequisite for a successful career.
While at work, one has to always keep in mind that he/she is expected to behave in a certain way in order to achieve the expected results. For this, the individual employee must learn to align his own value system and beliefs with that of the organization. This is also popularly known as cultural alignment. Even though we may have divergent views, we need to keep them aside and go with the organization priorities.
A very critical point remains to be addressed is to avoid the flow of workplace emotions at your home, this may lead to continued unsettled mindset at home too or you may find solace in the comforting words of your spouse and children.
In today's work world where multi-generational workforce is working together, what approach would be best suited for emotion management, since all these generations have different expectations and varied thought process.
VP One has to keep in mind that indeed the thought process of a Gen-X employee, with his own beliefs and experience is going to be drastically different from a millennial, which has been exposed to technology much more than what the Gen-X person has seen throughout his life. Respect for authority, so sacrosanct for the Gen-X, may not be of relevance to the Gen-Z, which has grown up questioning every custom and practices, unless they are themselves able to experience it or see it on ground.
Knowledge these days is available in abundance and is also easily accessible. Thus, if we were to expect the young generation to respect seniors at workplace because of their experience, it would be futile. Instead, they would like to have people who "Walk the talk". Mere hierarchies in the organization are not going to bring about obedience/compliance. It would be imperative for the leader to lead the group by providing role insight, empowerment, trust, delegation, empathy at the workplace, which is otherwise not available in the open platform. While the older generation would easily accept the line of command, the young and up-coming would rather like to follow the line of knowledge, growth and success. Hence, a leader has to be aware of the motivators for the different generations of employees and manage the interaction accordingly, to be impactful at the workplace.
What is the role of HR in creating an environment for maintaining an emotional balance at the workplace?
VP HR has a crucial role to play in creating an environment conducive to maintenance of emotional balance at the workplace. The focus of the function would be to inculcate and ensure a set of values in the organization. These values are irrespective of the function, location, and process etc. and act as anchors for every employee to refer to. These act as the cultural triggers of the organization and would not change with the passage of time. Another crucial aspect where HR comes in is to prepare the organization for "CHANGE", which is all pervasive today. Rather than being apprehensive about change, employees should look at it as an opportunity to re-assert their capabilities. HR should lead in creating the emotionally stable critical pool of strategic talent, which can take the organization forward and also provide continuity to the process of succession.
HR also has the responsibility to devise the R&R systems and procedures that encourage employees to behave in an emotionally responsible manner. When the leader responds in an emotionally intelligent manner, the team reciprocates accordingly and the results speak for themselves. Behavioral patterns which lead to success stories need to be recognized and encouraged. HR needs to impart training and induce learning on a continuous basis to build a stable organization, where decisions are not taken on Impulse or individual brilliance which could be preferred over team work. One has to keep in mind that it is the team which is going to make a difference in the longer run and individuals have to subjugate their personal goals and agendas to the team goals.
How do you see the leadership styles evolve to cater to the emotional needs of the employees? Which leadership style would work best in today's times?
VP Leadership styles have evolved with the passage of time. From an autocratic style of leadership where obedience was the norm, we have the situational style of leadership which says that every situation warrants a different style of leadership. These days, leaders are more like facilitators, who need to channelize the diverse energy in the team members towards a common objective. Sometimes, a leader needs to foster collaborative decision making while at other times, he would need to drive the situation, making others fall in line. The leadership pipeline starts from the line manger and ends at the CXO levels.
Rather than a particular style of leadership, what we need today is the leader to have certain personal and social competencies. At a personal level, he needs to have self-confidence and a belief in his own abilities.
He has to be in control over his emotions and not fall prey to easy diversions, which takes you away from your main objectives. The leader has not only to be achievement oriented, but also should be taking initiative and encourage others to do so. On the social side, the leader should have a genuine interest in developing others and should be a change catalyst, which welcomes change and thrives in it. He has to be adept at conflict management and foster team work and collaboration. He should have very good communication skills to ensure that the team thinks and acts in the same manner as he wants them to.
While emotion is a very human concept, do you think technology does have a role to play in creating effective emotional management practices at workplace?
VP By its very nature, technology is supposed to make tasks easier for human beings, without getting into emotions. These days, we see most of the employees making use of the tools like social media, analytics and automation, to carry out their work more effectively. While the advent of technology and the rapid pace of change have been un-precedented in the last decade, the urge to connect has also been felt correspondingly. However, the continuous pressure to achieve targets has created tremendous stress in employees and has resulted in health issues. The focus has shifted now to "Work Life Balance". The human touch and the emotional connect seems increasingly missing. Thus we come back to the basics of managing emotions at workplace.
Due to the advent of new technology and the rapid pace of change, it has become all the more imperative for the individual employee to be able to prioritize his tasks and time. This is where the digital ratio of the job has a crucial role to play. While routine tasks can be automated, the leader can make better use of his time to connect with the people.
Technology like video conferencing can enable the leader to be in touch with his team who would be geographically spread out over a large area. The aspect of "Work from Home", "Freelancing", which cater to groups of people who do not want to be confined to an office for the whole day, has been made possible with the rapid stride in technology. This has helped employees to manage their time more effectively and take care of their family needs. Women employees who would have otherwise had to stop their careers post maternity have been able to make significant contributions, thanks to the possibility of working from home or flexi - timing.
Thus, though technology may have disrupted the traditional work flow but it has also opened up the avenues for newer work place practices.
Tell us an incident which required you to exercise great control over your emotions while at workplace and your learning from it.
VP As Head of Corporate HR of a large business conglomerate I reported to the Promote director for about 22 establishments of the company. My senior was very imbalanced, unpredictable, spontaneous, aggressive and most of the time highly ambiguous in his behavior and his expectations from HR. It was left to me to interpret the unclear expectations into structured job responsibilities for myself with the help of key company HODs. Never in my 10 years of tenure was I found to be lacking in the deliverables expected out of my position rather the company's HR disposition image improved in the market more specifically with the competitors. On several occasions there were severe arguments, disagreements and needless provocations for any reason. Despite these moments of high stress I remained composed and doubly focused on my job responsibilities. I devoted my time & energies on understanding the HR needs from the various business heads and established HR systems and rules. There were no appraisals and increments for 3 years which were carried out smoothly and off course with the approval of the boss. I had a great team who aligned with me and gave all the support knowing well about the volatile disposition of the senior. To my surprise I came to know from the business heads that I was praised very often by the boss and was stated to be the HR Head of the company who could solve any employee related issues they had. Secondly, to my surprise on a typical rough day at the office, in the evening the boss told me that he admired me for my patience and continued focus on the deliverables despite his frequent illogical out bursts. He told me he was preparing me since the business was in a difficult phase and he felt that it is the human resources which can only mitigate the prevailing challenges.