Feelings are legitimate part of ownership and productivity

Feelings are legitimate part of ownership and productivity

Feelings are a legitimate part of all relationships and there are two types of people in this regard. In the feelings or emotions realm we have those that are at the mercy of their feelings.

Feelings happen to them the way dreams do. They live, need, believe, think, feel, and act. That is the anatomy of behaviour and one day we will talk about this at length when we go deep to explore the subject of understanding ourselves. That important subject of self-awareness. Why? Because self-awareness is the basis for self-improvement.

The second group are those who are emotionally literate. They have taken interest in understanding themselves and regulating and directing their actions or behaviour. They disrupt compulsive thinking and decide consciously even as they feel, to act in a manner that is their choice and not just behaviour.

In the workplace and in larger society out there, most people are found in group one. They are those who live, need, believe, think, feel, and act. An organization that takes productivity and the role that people play in that equation, will invest in influencing the feelings of their employees.

Yes, feelings, because of ignorance, are a generally vilified matter. You are considered week if you show feelings or act based on them, but the truth is that we all act based on feelings. Yes, the emotionally literate will do so consciously but they feel.

We quote Maya Angelou again in her enduring wisdom when she said, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This is a statement pregnant with truth and a total lecture for workplace relationships and productivity. She was a great poet who operated within the rubric of scientificity just like poets like Rumi and others. She says ‘people will forget what you said…’

What you see in the workplace and other relationships in general is a lot of saying. I know of organizations that make claims about their cultures. They will talk glamorously about how their culture is this and that when in actual fact their culture is busy happening in response to what they do and the way they treat each other and their employees.

In other relationships we can say, a million times that ‘I love you…’ but it might not be enough. Saying something is good as long as it is in congruency with what is being done and yes, the adage that actions speak louder than words is legitimate. Actions do not need a loudspeaker because they are just loud enough.

It might sound contradictory that she goes on to say ‘people will forget what you did…’ It is a closer look at both saying and doing that exonerates the good claim. As I said earlier, saying is good only if it is in congruency with doing.

Just uninformed doing is equally not enough because it hits the wrong nerves in the employees, and they feel bad and won’t forget how you made them feel.

If you made them feel afraid by what you did, when they think of you or meet you, they will remember and if they have not healed, they will feel afraid again. They will re-live their trauma.

If, however, you made them feel good, welcome, and important, they will remember that even when in doubt and be re-inspired by your actions and words.

To put this in perspective, let us consider how the feelings of our employees are structured. This is science and one can further explore this subject by reading emotional intelligence books by such writers and teachers as Daniel Goleman, Shirzad Chamine and Eckhart Tolle.

I have created an acronym that can be used to understand this important phenomenon and it is tea. A tea person thinks, feels, (emotions) and acts. They are not in control of this whole process; it just happens, and they are an outlet of.

Think of people who act and explain later that it’s because I felt this way. I felt angry and I killed him, they say. They are saying, in other words that they just could not do anything about their feelings.

Many a people are like this but there is just a few who disrupt this and act consciously. I am emphasising this to make you dear reader see how important it is for an employer and his management to take feelings seriously and make a conscious effort to influence them in the direction of good behaviour that promotes productivity.

Human beings come from different backgrounds, and they all have a history of being treated in a certain way by their primary caregivers who come in the form of parents and guardians.

Many carry, not healed scars but wounds that get aggravated by the way they are further treated. Even in homes and families that sense of belonging is sometimes not cultivated. It’s just a pipe dream.

So, the employer is already working with damaged goods in that regard and needs to be aware of that so that when they intervene, they do so with that understanding.

As these important human beings lived in their early years under the behaviour tutelage of their parents, they, unconsciously learnt to survive under the circumstances of not feeling a sense of belonging and ownership.

They do not even believe that it exists, all they know is that one has to hustle to survive. It is quite a tall order therefore, to say take steps to take them out of their cocoons and make them play in the open, but we believe it can be done.

We argue therefore that feelings are a legitimate part of the ownership phenomenon we are at pains to share with you. The process of achieving this cannot be cheated because it won’t work. In an environment, for example, where there is favouritism, an employer or manager may think that having a few feel as if they belong and own will work but that kind of attitude only works as instant gratification with no sense of prudence.

The same employees who are favoured may feel afraid that one day you will treat them badly because of the way they see you treat their colleagues. The tragic in life is not only always about what happens to us but also about what we witness happening to others.

Watch human beings witnessing a horrible accident where another human being’s head is crushed to a pulp. What do they do? They hold their heads, scared to death but it is not their heads that have been crushed. It is just that they, consciously or unconsciously relate with the pain of the other person, even if it is not happening to them. They sit there, afraid that if this can happen to Ndlovu, it can happen Moyo also. 

  • *Bhekilizwe Bernard Ndlovu’s training is in human resources training, development and transformation, behavioural change, applied drama, personal mastery and mental fitness. He works for a Zimbabwean company as human capital executive, while also doing a PhD with Wits University where he looks at violent strikes in the South African workplace as a researcher. Ndlovu worked as a human resources manager for several blue-chip companies in Zimbabwe and still takes keen interest in the affairs of people and performance management. He can be contacted on [email protected]

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