ShareBar

In an effort to understand the role that suppressing or exaggerating emotions has on employees, HBS assistant professor Laura Morgan Roberts and a colleague from the University of Toronto, Stéphane Côté, set about to measure the relationship between emotion regulation and job satisfaction. Using data from 111 workers — college students who labored in service jobs — the pair measured job satisfaction and its relationship to whether workers were being asked to hide or exaggerate emotions. Their study, “A Longitudinal Analysis of the Association between Emotion Regulation, Job Satisfaction, and Intentions to Quit,” was published in the December 2002 Journal of Organizational Behavior.

Not surprisingly, the researchers found that workers who are asked to suppress negative or unpleasant emotions are often unhappy at work and consider leaving their jobs. Using the inability to tell a boss when one is angry or disappointed as an example, Roberts and Côté advise employers to “minimize the frequency of unpleasant emotions that employees need to suppress.” Thus, as Roberts said in a recent interview, “It’s best to create a work environment where people can be authentic. If they are unsatisfied, they need to have a means of communicating their emotions.” Interestingly, when employees are asked to amplify certain positive emotions — to deliver a product with a smile, for instance — their job satisfaction increases. “Display rules that call for pleasant emotions appear to benefit both the individual and the organization,” write the authors. “People who are asked to exaggerate positive emotions tend to be fairly satisfied with their work,” said Roberts. “It’s a social catalyst that not only benefits those around you, it also makes you feel better.”

Roberts, who studies how people manage the impressions they make on others, believes that impression management is an ever-present and important element of organizational life. “People are always thinking about how others view them and how they would like to be viewed. Fostering authentic interpersonal relations among coworkers and enabling people to feel comfortable being themselves contribute to organizational success,” she concluded.

ShareBar

Post a Comment