The emotional infrastructure
Board members and managers of organisations have always paid a lot of attention to factors such as planning, decision making and evaluation with respect to the physical infrastructure (buildings, machines, etc.) and the intellectual infrastructure (annual cycles, processes, etc.). However, little structural attention has been paid to the emotional infrastructure, encompassing forms of interaction, trust, empathy, respect and perceptions. And a lack of these elements is now typically the bottleneck in organisations and teams that are not performing successfully (or successfully enough)!
Board members and managers periodically come together for meetings whereby the point of focus is very often the content of a problem. And once in a while, a day offsite will be organised, or a meal, in an attempt to enhance internal communication and collaboration. This is rather an instrumental approach to reinforcing the emotional infrastructure, and this theme is rarely treated with very much more creativity throughout the rest of the organisation.
Behaviour and intentions
But of course that’s not how things work. Investing in the collaboration with colleagues will only pay dividends if this investment is of a structural nature, if there is a clear intention to want to understand each other and to view mutual differences as being complementary to each other. In which case, insight into, and understanding of, for example, the life experiences, personal values and motivations of those colleagues is required. Why does he think or act that way, what motivates him, and in which situations will he start fighting?
In any case, when it comes to collaboration, it is important to realise that we often judge our own behaviour based on our positive intentions, but judge others based on the behaviour we observe. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could turn this around: Judge ourselves by the behaviour we demonstrate and judge others on their positive intentions? What would the impact be on our collaboration?
Is this a soft approach? Absolutely not! As long as everyone realises that investing in the emotional infrastructure is not a goal in itself, it can form the basis for, amongst other things, long-term collaboration, the taking of bold decisions and achieving company goals. A sure sign of modern leadership is when board members and managers pay permanent attention to this topic within their organisation and jointly form a clearly defined vision and execution. And here too, a crucial factor for success is setting a good example. If board members and managers treat each other and their employees with respect, the chance that employees will also adopt this behaviour also increases…
Would you like to know what results investing in the emotional infrastructure of your organisation can bring you? Then contact COURIUS, the specialists in the human side of change.