11 August 2014
I was recently asked an interesting question about workplace behaviour, one that I’d never really considered in much depth before, as I take it as a bit of a given.
“If someone shows emotion in the workplace, does that undermine their credibility?”
Personally, I think if people are really attempting to reach their full potential, you’re going to go through high pressure situations and things will get tough. I don’t think showing that makes you any less of a person or any less of an asset to the team. This is why one of our core values is ‘supportive’ so if you feel like you’re struggling, there will always be someone nearby to help you. It’s something we take really seriously, down to the recruitment level and with team-building out in Wales where we do raft-building right after we’ve just climbed Mount Snowdon.
What you find is that people achieve things together that they might not have done on their own. There can be tears, even from grown men. People with a fear of heights, for example, might get emotional at the top of the mountain as we make our way to the peak, but that’s fine. It’s healthy to express that. I’ve even held the hand of one of my best sales guys before now, to help him cross a narrow ledge to get to the summit. We can laugh about it now, but I really don’t see it as a weakness anyway. I see the fact that he pushed through something that scared him as a sign of great strength.
It’s the same in the workplace; I think it’s healthy to express emotions. You can see it in people’s eyes sometimes when there’s something playing on their mind. And so often, when you ask them, you find that it’s something going on outside of work that’s distracting them. In my experience, it’s better to get it out in the open so you can ask, “How can we help?” It’s our job as employers to make sure everybody’s life is as smooth as it can be. Emotion is part of that.
Anyone who says that there’s no place for it in the workplace wouldn’t feel at home at UKFast and, frankly, I feel sad for the kind of workplace environment that disapproves of showing emotion. You can’t expect people to act like robots! And if you think about it, we spend one third of our lives asleep, one working and one at home or out doing leisure activities. Why would you want to spend a third of your life devoid of emotion?
Some people probably do think it’s unprofessional to get emotional at work, but I disagree, and I don’t subscribe to the idea that tears are a sign of weakness. Surely, the only thing they’re a sign of is that you’re human!