My husband and I recently visited Key West, Florida, and our first evening there we were looking for a place to have dinner. We wanted to go to one of those Southern-looking old houses where we could dine on the front porch. There were several of those on the main drag, and we strolled by each one and checked out the menu and surroundings. They were pretty similar, but there was one in particular that just felt right. We chose that one and had a very pleasant experience.
What was it that caused us to choose that particular restaurant? Traditionally, we might say that we chose it at random, or something in our subconscious made it attractive (for example, we’ve always had a good time at restaurants with blue chairs). But emerging science is revealing a different reason. Research shows that employees working together form an emotion-based field that can be detected by the nervous system of other people, such as customers. Usually without being conscious of it, customers are naturally attracted to energy fields that feel positive and happy, and they shy away from fields that are negative or discontented. So the very emotions running through your organization are influencing your volume of business.
As a business leader, you probably put lots of effort into ensuring that your business appeals to the five senses and to the pocketbook. But how often do you consider how your business feels to customers? You may place importance on hiring people who smile and are friendly, but there’s lots more to an attractive energy field than just a few smiling faces. So how do you gauge the quality of the emotional field that your organization is emitting? You can start by learning to detect it yourself.
If you determine the energy that your organization is emitting doesn’t feel attractive, how do you change it? This begins with who you hire, because some people are naturally upbeat, and they can influence the entire group. Beyond that, the emotional field emitted by a group of employees is heavily influenced by how you lead. Among other things, you can promote an attractive energy through skillfully acknowledging employees, promoting belief in success, elevating trust by loosening control, and defining a compelling and engaging purpose. Doing these things creates win-win situations where employees are genuinely happier and businesses attract more customers.
It’s important to note that human emotion in business is becoming even more vital as we move from a manufacturing economy to a service economy. For years businesses have worked to make products, such as automobiles, attractive to customers. Think of the effort that has gone into making them physically appealing, easy to use, and satisfying to purchase. Now we’re becoming more of a service economy, and we need to put equal effort into making our services more attractive. Sure we already work on making our service organizations responsive, courteous, and efficient. These are table stakes. We also need to pay attention to the emotions of our organizations and consciously shape the fields that they’re emitting into the marketplace.
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