As the use of groups and teams increases in organisations, more studies consider behaviours in a group setting. Below, Sigal G. Barsade and Donald E. Gibson argue that managers who understand and manage a team’s emotional processes may gain the insight they need to give them the edge in fostering effective work teams.
As the use of groups and teams increases in organisations, we are learning new lessons about how people in groups feel and behave differently than when acting alone. We tend to be aware of our own individual emotions: we know when we’re feeling angry and ready to strike out; we also know when we’re flooded with a good mood after a personal success. When we bring these individual emotions to work groups, the result is a complex mix. We each bring our own mood-of-the-moment or feelings based on what’s happened that day. We also bring our emotional tendencies—whether we tend to be upbeat and optimistic, or lean toward the gloomy, or anxious. What happens when individuals’ emotions come together in a group setting? How can we hope to understand group emotions and moods in the workplace?