2014 Funded Research

Affective Interventions for Change in Organizations: Emotion Tracking & Discussion as an Avenue for Attitudinal and Performance Improvement

Technological advances such as smartphone apps allow individuals to quickly track their mood, but despite these advances, scholars have yet to examine how organizations can proactively help their employees understand and manage their emotions. Given the importance of emotions in the workplace, Professor Sigal Barsade and doctoral students Jaime Potter and Danielle Tussing explored how tracking one’s emotions while at work and receiving feedback about them relate to employee productivity and well-being. They conducted a field study in which 150 employees provided ratings of their own mood and energy level four times during the work day, and each week, participants received a report showing their individual and team’s aggregated emotions. Additionally, some participants engaged in a facilitated discussion with their coworkers to discuss the team-level data. We predicted that this intervention would foster improved cohesion and communication with teammates, leading to subsequent improvement in work performance. While prior research had established that emotions influence employee performance, this was one of the first studies to examine what outcomes occur if employees are actively informed of their emotions and the emotions of others on their teams. The results of this study will enhance the ability of leaders to discuss their employees’ emotions and promote well-being at work.

Who Becomes Leaders?

With increased external hiring of executive and top managers, it has long been of interest to scholars and practitioners to understand who makes it to these jobs and the career paths that have led people to these jobs. For example, does diverse experience hurt, or help? How important is it to have worked at a reputable firm? What is the role of related work experience in how executives are selected? These are the questions that PhD student Shinjae Won, advised by Matthew Bidwell, investigate in this project.

Using a unique data set from an executive search firm that allows us to observe the entire consideration set of candidates for each of the vacancies filled in the top management positions across industries, we hope to contribute to the field of leadership research, specifically surrounding the question of who becomes corporate leaders, where they come from, and what kind of previous experiences give them access to those jobs and affect their behaviors.