How to Understand and Manage Emotion in Teams: Part 4

by | Resources, News

How to manage the emotion?

Welcome to the last article on the topic of emotional intelligence in groups and how to work towards it! If you have not seen the first 3 parts, you can follow the links above to find them. There you can read why emotional intelligence is so important and what it consists of.

To give a short summary, high EQ is not an exclusively individual competence. It can be possessed by teams also. And research on the matter has suggested that highly emotionally intelligent teams are more effective overall! Moreover, any team can achieve it in the right direction and practices. In the previous articles, we explained how to understand and regulate individuals’ emotion, as well as how to understand group emotion. The only concept left is how to manage group emotion, and this is what we are here for today!

What does it mean to regulate a team’s emotion?

Managing a team’s emotions can be easily explained with team spirit, as it seems closer to our understanding of groups. If it is great and everyone seems to be happy with the group, emotional intelligence is present. If, however, problems arise or team members feel a hostile atmosphere at work, there are some actions to be considered.

emotion in teams part 3f

The end goal here is to improve the attitude of a team – this is regulating the collective emotion of your group. Since group emotion is the moving force behind a team, bettering it in any way guarantees an improvement in cooperativeness, productivity, focus and facilitates a greater working process. Making sure coworkers feel comfortable and closer with each other will result in stronger relationships between them. They will identify with the group. Consequently, they will be more outspoken, creative and strive to do their best. And this is what we all should be after!

Manage emotion

Probably the most popular way that employers choose to develop team spirit is team-building sessions. They have proven to be helpful to facilitate a feeling of belonging to the group, even though most activities that are chosen for Team Building have nothing to do with the actual job of the participants. This is because the tasks advance the team’s emotional capacity, which additionally strengthens their group skills.

An extra step further would be establishing the correct group norms. Those are “rules”, much like societal norms (basically, the norms of your little society at work!). Such norms that successful teams favour, according to Harvard Business Review, are ones that develop resources to work with emotion, create a positive workplace and inspire action to be taken when a problem is present. When such norms are implemented in the office, they work as the subtle push your team may need to develop a better sense of collective enthusiasm.

Effective Team Building

Even though Team Building sessions are widely known and used in order to strengthen team relationships, they are often done in ways that are not really effective. If you have participated in a badly organized Team Building event, you know the struggle. But, when looking from the other point of view, one may wonder – how can I host a team-building session that is not awkward, involves everyone and is efficient?

This often is a product of emotional intelligence in the first place. If you know your team well enough, you will probably be able to identify what they will prefer to do and what will feel natural to them.

There are different types of activities that can be useful for different skills. Learning the difference between them may help you choose the ones that are compatible with your team’s needs. We have different categories of activities listed here:

  • Bringing participants together
  • Getting participants to know each other better
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Communicative skills
  • Concentration
  • Finding collective solutions

Once you have chosen what you think your team needs some work on, it is time to choose the activities that meet those requirements. Luckily, when using KissTheFrogNOW, you can simply take out the magic table with all the contents of the box. Look at what activities are compatible with the categories you have chosen. Just underneath it, there will be ticks on the games that facilitate the mentioned skills. It is as easy as that!

What is important to remember about Team Building events is that whatever abilities they are trying to further and promote, their fundamental aim is to build trust. Stay away from practices that will make participants feel left out or embarrassed in any way. Discourage any “cliques” that may form, in order to include everyone; avoid conflict at all costs.

emotion in teams part 4d

Norms introducing resources to deal with group emotion

Such norms should give the team members a resource to manage the emotion of the group when it faces an obstacle. The possibilities for all of the norms we are going to discuss are endless. You will know best what to include in your team since they could also be quite specific. The rule of thumb is to recognize good practices and establish them as unspoken rules. We have some examples for the first type of norms that we borrowed from the Harvard Business Review here:

A resource to manage emotion could be a common vocabulary. An example could be a member of the Veterans Health Administration who recognized their coworker was moody and an obstacle to the working process and called him out by saying he was “cranky” that day. The term stuck with the group as a way to tell someone their emotion impacted the team in a negative way without insulting them.

Another example of such resource is a team which agreed to take a few minutes to whine about a setback before actually trying to solve the problem. They called it a “wailing wall” and reported that it helped them because it was a way to let them release the negative emotion, thus then better focusing on and tackling the issue.

Norms to create a positive workspace

By ensuring your team works in an affirmative environment, you are also ensuring that they will be positive towards the tasks they do. When faced with a problem, they will be more likely to respond with a can-do attitude, instead of a negative response. Norms that favour positivity in any way could be employed for this purpose.

E.g., a team member from the Hay Group shared that whenever a conflict appeared in his group, what he tried to do was not get involved (even if he really wanted to), but instead took action to reverse the process and make it a positive and constructive one.


Norms to facilitate proactive problem-solving

Problems are inevitably present in every working process and the approach taken to solve them is extremely important. Norms that inspire team members to take action will ensure that your team deals with issues in the best way – by taking matters into their own hands. Even if something is not necessarily in your control, try and encourage the team to still think about ways to solve or go around it. By doing this, new great ideas may pop up for a solution. If they do not, the group will be involved and feel like they do not lack control over the situation. Thus avoiding feeling hopeless or stressed out.

Having learned all you need about group emotional intelligence now, it is time to put everything in action! Highly emotionally intelligent teams have greater chances to succeed in their field of work and they are favoured as partners. Moreover, being a part of such a team means that going to work every day is not your worst nightmare. You now know why and how, so the only thing left is to do. Good luck!

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by Mihaela Nikolova

Passionate about exploring the topic of emotional intelligence, teamwork and interpersonal relationships at the office.



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