It’s no surprise that company culture is one of the most important aspects of a company to employees as well as prospective partners or prospective employees. What is surprising is that many companies only address half of that culture-and are arguably neglecting the more important half. Most companies focus on what is known as cognitive culture–which drives how employees think and act at work, and is mostly aligned with a company’s objectives-like being highly innovative, customer focused, or team oriented.
Cognitive culture is definitely necessary in order to be successful, but emotional culture is also critical and should not be overlooked. Emotional culture is centered around how employees feel at work and what emotions they feel comfortable expressing versus what emotions they feel they should suppress. It is worth noting that is easier to promote cognitive culture than emotional culture–because cognitive culture is promoted verbally, whereas emotional culture is promoted subtly through things like tone, facial expression, and body language.
Emotional culture is not something that can simply be changed overnight with a memo or a campaign to change business objectives. Emotional culture is created organically and takes time to grow. It’s the summation of all the little things that regularly occur in the workplace. Things as simple as how employees communicate with each other, or how they set up their desks, can affect the emotional culture of the workplace. Much of the development of emotional culture can be attributed to things that occur outside of the workplace. Allowing employees to bring some of their home life into the workplace ultimately makes them feel more comfortable there, while allowing employees to connect to one another on a more personal level. Understanding that employees are people who have lives outside of work allows other employees to feel empathy toward one another. Being empathetic opens up doors and allows people to be comfortable sharing their feelings in the workplace, making the company as a whole more connected.
Having a good emotional culture does more than just make employees feel comfortable in the workplace, it affects how they work. A closely connected team will always be more productive than a team of strangers, because they understand how each member of the team works and how to put each other in positions to maximize strengths. A closely knit team is also comfortable communicating with one another so that they are more comfortable speaking their minds even if their opinion doesn’t agree with the majority. When employees feel that their opinions are heard and accepted, it will lead to them to feel free to think creatively without worrying about how their opinion will be construed.
If creating a positive emotional culture is your goal, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that you are always influencing your company’s emotional culture. Every employee, at every level of the company influences the emotional culture. And often, that culture starts at the top. By creating awareness of emotional culture at all levels of the organization, you can help change the overall culture of your business-one employee at a time.