Great project delivery requires great teamwork. Successful project teams work by inspiring each other to achieve their common goal. But why does this not always work? Let's discuss emotions. Positive and negative emotions are tested within teams and often impact productivity. What are some common emotions experienced by members?

According to Robert Plutchik, there are eight basic emotions: joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness, anticipation, anger, and disgust.

Joy – Everyone knows ‘that’ person in the team who is happy no matter what. But did you know, by choosing to be more joyful you are also choosing to be more productive. A study found that happy employees are up to 20% more productive than unhappy employees. Also, happiness is contagious, being happy increases the chance for other team members to be happy and therefore more productive.

Trust – Dealing with team members who do not trust one another is challenging. A team without trust isn’t a team but a group of individuals making disappointing progress. Information is not shared and arguments arise often. Trust makes the difference between average and admirable performance. Trust creates a safe environment to allow effective feedback and improvements in the way the team operate to occur. Trust is a must!

Fear – Fear to take risks within a team or be vulnerable in front of each other is not uncommon - psychological safety is important. We all must demonstrate respectable behaviours within teams to be truly diverse and effective (eg. show respect, listen, be open and approachable, acknowledge mistakes). Fear is insidious, it grows if it is not actively managed, and the greatest source of its power is ignorance. Effective communication is a remedy for fear.

Surprise – Sudden shock or surprise within the team is often unintentional. It is usually as a result of something not being communicated effectively ie. not being tailored or repeated enough to each team member. We sometimes say things once and think our message has been communicated. Equally, we all see and hear messages with our own lens based on our own experience. Presenting things to the team as a whole also opens up the opportunity for the team to discuss and interactively understand the message. Don’t forget though, surprise can be a good thing too.

Sadness – Twofold emotion. Can bring a team together or tear it apart. When sadness arises in a team, everything slows down. Work is often the last thing thought about. The best way to move forward with sadness in a team is to move forward in incremental steps. Meanwhile, the satisfaction and feeling of achievement through success at work can be a great healer for sadness, bringing the team closer together.

Anticipation - We like to think of anticipation as a good thing. When we expect good or bad things to happen dopamine is released in the brain. This can have great impacts on productivity in a working team. Furthermore, dopamine is also a key player in addiction. By rewarding certain behaviours, the team can find itself becoming addicted to its own success.

Anger – When there is anger within teams, bad decisions will be made guaranteed. It is almost impossible to reconcile teams that experience anger. The best way to avoid anger within a team is to ensure that feedback and communication channels are open to allow effective handling of frustration before it turns to anger.

Disgust – That feeling of strong disapproval or revulsion is a difficult feeling to overcome for any human being. Its impact on a team can be significant and can result in members packing up and leaving fairly quickly. It is rare in a work situation for disgust to show itself.

Do you agree? What impact have these emotions had on your teams?

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