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Neutral to Affective! Can Peer Learning Steer Your Organisational Culture?

Updated: Dec 16, 2021

Netural to Affective Organisational Culture

Neutral Culture to Affective Culture. Which one do you think works well? Millennials definitely think the latter is better.

If organizations are a constellation then every employee is a star adding their own shine to the constellation.”

What makes an organization unique is the expertise of its employees.

Thus, it becomes paramount for the organizations to provide the employees with an environment where they can maximize and make optimal use of their expertise.

Every organization has its own mission, expectations and values that guide employee performance, productivity and engagement. Thus, the culture of an organization is very important since it encompasses the values and behaviour that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of a business.

Unfortunately, while talking about organizational culture, a lot of importance is given to the cognitive mechanism of culture. The central role of emotions in building the right organizational culture is ignored.

All organizations have multiple interactional levels. Between top management and junior management, between co-workers, between employees and customers and so on. Various emotions are at play at these interactional levels. The culture of an organization is shaped by these emotions. Eg: The interaction between the police inspector and his superior is marked by obedience. In a similar way, various emotions shape the interactions taking place at an organization between different levels which ultimately shapes the culture which in turn impacts the business. Every culture has strong norms about how readily emotions should be revealed.

The degree to which people express emotions and the interplay between reason and emotion in their interactions at different levels in the organization determines whether that particular organization has a neutral or an affective culture.  

In an emotionally Neutral organizational culture mostly experienced in Anglo-Saxon and Asian countries, it is the reason that dominates one’s interaction with others. Such a culture values self-control, calmness, rationality and rejects going to emotional extremes.  Expressing emotions, opinions (directly or indirectly) in certain situations is considered inappropriate. Such a culture not only experiences the absence of informal conversation but also is aloof and cold. Employees learn that it is incorrect to overtly show feelings.

On the contrary, in a high affectivity organizational culture found in the Middle Eastern and Latin countries emotions are considered as playing a crucial role in the decision-making process. Employees can freely express their emotions. Expressing these emotions provides an opportunity to find immediate outlets for their feelings. Along with the acceptance to express one’s emotion immediately, openly and passionately, the art of constructive arguing and debate is also promoted.  

Employees and managers when being managed or while managing to respond differently based on the culture. In a neutral culture, they tend to avoid warm, expressive or enthusiastic behaviours. These are interpreted as lack of control over your feelings and inconsistent with high status. They look for small cues that the person is pleased or angry and amplify their importance.  Employees in an affective organizational culture interpret detachment, ambiguous and cool demeanour negatively such as disdain, dislike, and social distance.

Consider an example: An organization is receiving complaints from its customers with regards to the way the sales team is handling their issues. They are not responsive and very cold in their behaviour. It is evident that the culture in the organization is neutral due to which their customers are facing an issue. In such a scenario it becomes important to transform this neutral culture into an effective culture. This transformation is marked by an awareness of the customer’s emotions and in turn, reciprocating those emotions by being empathetic. In a neutral organizational culture, employees do have emotions but they restrict their expression. This increases the possibility of experiencing burnout and disengagement.

“21 century belongs to those organizations who understand the power of human emotions”

Organizations today are constantly investing in various strategies to transform their culture from neutral to affective. One of the most unique ways to facilitate this transformation is via Peer Learning.

Rather than perceiving a co-worker as a competitor (as in a neutral culture), a co-worker can be perceived as a “peer” in an affective culture. By tapping on the already available skills and expertise employees get to learn as well as practise. These sessions help the employee to “talk”. Sharing their opinions and experiences makes them empathetic and concerned about their teammates. Peer learning makes the culture of an organisation simple, easy and accessible!

When an employee shares an issue that was causing distress, others experiencing the same emotions or having been through these emotions can be a great source of help. The employee feels empowered which in an otherwise neutral culture would lead to burn out. An employee finds psychological support. They can awaken the H.E.R.O within them. Constructive argument and debates can pave the way for innovation which can help in retaining and improving an organization’s uniqueness.

“Thus, be a constellation that expresses emotions and not just a pattern of random stars!” At BHyve, we help your organization to be a constellation that is not just a random pattern of stars but becomes those stars, just as employees that are connected, engaged and contribute positively to an organization’s productivity. In order to boost motivation and engagement, we gamify the entire peer learning process which helps you to transform your organization’s culture in a gamified manner that incorporates managers as well as employee’s individual needs.

#employeenegagement #Organisationalculture #peerlearning

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