How do you get the best people on your team and keep them there? Sure, it pays to be using the latest technology and have an attractive reward system, but it’s also largely influenced by something more primal: the way it feels to be part of your team. Teams generate an emotional signature that heavily influences who is drawn to join them. Consider the story of Steven, an eager intern, as he selects a team.
Steven is thrilled to be starting his first day as a summer intern at logistics company Accelerate. As he greets the recruiter, she tells him there are three teams that want him, and he gets to have his pick. He’s excited to hear that all three teams are working on big, technically-advanced projects, giving him the opportunities he craves. As he sprints off to meet with the teams, he thinks this is going to be a difficult decision.
Steven eagerly walks into a small conference room to meet the first team, and the half dozen people who greet him seem nice and bright. But a half hour into the discussion, he notices that he feels dull and sluggish. Actually he’s fighting the urge to yawn, so he’s glad when it’s time to move to the second team.
He enthusiastically shakes hands with these team members as he takes a seat in their work area. He no longer has an urge to yawn, but the longer he spends with them, the more he feels anxious and stressed. He recalls the feeling is similar to taking a big test when he hasn’t studied enough. Steven tries to ignore it but he can feel a knot forming in the pit of his stomach.
Feeling less optimistic, he cautiously approaches the third team. Fortunately, after meeting with them for only a few minutes, he notices that he feels centered yet enthusiastic. He can’t quite find the words to explain why, but he excitedly tells the recruiter that he definitely wants to work with the third team.
Emotions quickly become pervasive in a team. In a study of dozens of social groups, all members quickly adopt a common emotional state, just by being in close proximity. Others who come in contact with the group quickly pick up their emotions, usually without realizing what’s happening. Sure a team’s emotions can shift over time, but they usually settle into a particular pattern, whether sluggish, anxious, vibrant, etc.
Unlike cognition, emotion influences the body’s entire nervous system, making us squirm with discomfort or easing us into a vibrant state of wellbeing. We’re all naturally wired to associate with people who make us feel good, and consciously or not, we will choose to be around those people. Follow the lead of the most elite teams and ensure that your team is attractive.
As we learn more from neuroscience about the incredible power of group emotions, we see reasons to adopt techniques beyond the ordinary. For more on shaping team emotions to increase creativity and performance, including research references, get notified of the upcoming book Primal Teams: Harnessing the Incredible Power of Group Energy or sign up for a monthly summary of articles.Share