How Moods Affect the Workplace

How do moods affect your work environment?

I am frequently asked by clients how they can increase motivation – not just theirs but others also. In addition, I am asked how they can be more focused at work. There is new research that clearly indicates that we rely on connections with others for our motivation and emotional stability.

A Yale study found that moods influence how effectively people work. A primary factor in how well an organization functions depends on how the leaders manage their moods. We know upbeat moods increase cooperation, fairness and performance. Cooperative and harmonious groups reflect a higher expression of every person’s best effort and ability.

At work, who is the most likely person employees will be watching?

The leader of a group has the strongest impact because people take emotional cues from the top which ripple throughout the organization’s emotional climate. In addition, it is not just what another person does but how it is done that registers in our limbic system (the part of the brain that handles emotions).

Our emotions automatically shift to match the person we are with, even if the contact is nonverbal. Daniel Goleman calls this “entrainment” in his book, Primal Leadership (2002). It can take place in a couple of minutes in some situations. Emotions are contagious. The more cohesive or close a group is, the more likely moods will be shared – positive or negative.

Furthermore, how people feel about working at an organization influences productivity. Low morale and lack of cooperation predict high turnover and lower productivity. In addition, distress and worry decrease mental abilities and Emotional Intelligence. This makes it difficult for a leader to read the emotions of other people accurately – a skill necessary for empathy.

What have we learned will positively affect the work environment?

Research tells us that the emotional state and actions of leaders set the climate. Stop and think about how your boss’s mood affects you. Emotionally intelligent leaders create resonance or harmony. It is resonance that determines the employees’ ability to work well.

How do leaders create resonance?

In general, leaders need to be more supportive and empathetic when work becomes more emotionally demanding, as in times of a recession or transition. This means that as a leader, you need to:

  • Frame your comments in a positive way.
  • Be specific when dealing with a negative situation.
  • Show that you are motivated and productive.
  • Build cooperation by being in touch with employees’ feelings.
  • Ask for feedback at appropriate times.

Begin to practice these ideas if you want to create more motivated, cooperative and emotionally stable employees. It may take several weeks before you see a difference in morale and cooperation in the environment. Remember, moods are contagious. You can make a positive difference by modeling the behavior you want to see from the employees you supervise.

What do you think? Comment below.

To your success,


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