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The purpose of this paper is to explore the value that is created by employees in the workplace, when they adopt the proper behavior and attitudes, and are able to manage themselves and their relationships with colleagues. Companies need to focus on the motivation of their employees in order to adapt the right behavior, and improve their relationship management skills. Employees' behavior, emotions and relationships in the workplace can be improved using tools. Both Transactional Analysis Theory as well as Emotional Intelligence can provide useful insights to an employee in order to be able to improve his behavior, his relationships with others, leading to improved communication and quality. This study attempts to examine the behavior of employees and their emotions in the workplace by combining the concepts of two theories: Emotional Intelligence and Transactional Analysis in order to provide a framework which can result to improved communication and quality.
Organizational Behavior, Relationship Management, Human Resources, Communication, Transactional Analysis, Emotional Intelligence
Nowadays organizations face intense competition, demanding significant changes (Albani and Dietz, 2009) and the ability to cope with the effects of globalization and technology advances resulting in producers capacity surplus (Jørgensen et al., 2009).
Companies recognize that their human capital is their most important asset, especially for the implementation of their strategy. According to Bergeron (2004) organizations that focus on the improvement of their human capital achieve better results. The connecting bond between (1) the attitudes and the behavior of employees and (2) performance is the affective identification of employees. Thus the employees' attitudes and behaviors can influence the effectiveness of an organization and its ability to function properly.
In bibliography, there are many articles written regarding the value of human capital (Flamholtz, 2005; Murthy and Abeysekera, 2007; Namasivayam and Denizci, 2006; O' Donnell et al., 2003; Mayo, 2000; Bassi and McMurrer, 2005; Pickett, 2005). The reason is that the competitive advantage of a company should be driven and based by assets that are hard to be copied by competitors and make the difference in customer satisfaction. The human capital belongs to the intangible assets of a company that, when investing in it and exploiting it, the benefits and the profits realized can be very immense. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to explore the value that is created by employees, when they adopt the proper behavior and attitudes and are able to manage themselves and their relationships with colleagues.
The Strategic Importance of Employees' Behavior
Employees with hard work and sincerity can make a company successful or with their insincerity and disruptive behavior make a company fail (Gupta and Kleiner, 2005, p.60). Jain et al. (2009) suggested that the wellbeing of employees has a positive relationship to the emotional attachment and identification with the company, maybe because healthy people view things through a positive frame of mind that may incline them to be affectively committed.
To adapt the right behavior does not only mean to express positive emotions. Both positive and negative emotions, when they are appropriate, enhance the quality of life of a person by helping further to the attainment of his goals. By contrast, inappropriate feelings get in the way of overcoming frustrations and difficulties and usually help to make bad conditions even worse (Gordon and Dryden, 1989, p.15).
According to Waldman (1994) in a traditional -authoritative- management approach employees are obeying to orders of managers, who, in return, are ensuring that the needs of their customers are met. In the new management approach there is a two way intervention between managers and employees, managers are concerned about the needs of their employees, and there exists a collaboration between the upper and lower management levels (Figure 1). When the needs and expectations of the employees are being considered and they are treated as a valuable asset from the company, then their behavior can be positively affected. Employees should be treated as part of the system, which can influence the final outcome.
Figure 1: Traditional and New Management Approach
Source: Waldman, D.A. (1994). Designing Performance Management Systems for Total Quality Implementation, Journal of Organizational Change Management, 7(2), 40 (adapted).
The pressures of the marketplace and the introduction of new management practices have had a significant effect on the traditional employment relationship, which has been replaced by a new psychological relationship increasing the necessity of understanding how employees can be encouraged to engage in discretionary extra-role behavior under the new psychological contract (Sharkie, 2009, p.495). A psychological contract characterises the employee-employer relationship and emphasises organisations attainment of favourable outcomes by understanding employee's expectations (Aggarwal and Bhargava, 2009, p.5).
The behaviors of employees, combined with the corporate procedures can lead to the improvement of corporate results (De Waal, 2004). Any strategic change can not be carried out without the existence of the right abilities and behaviors (Al-Ghamdi, 1998). But in order to show (the employees) the right behavior, an organization should have a culture that clearly supports equitable processes and outcomes (Everton et al., 2007). The employee's behavior clearly reflects the corporate culture and the values that dominate in an organization. Deviant behaviors are less likely to appear in an organization where everyone is treated equitable. Upon the research of Carmeli (2005, p.191), employees' withdrawal behavior and intentions are partly products of organizational culture, emphasizing the importance of an organizational culture that challenges its employees.
The policies, that an organization chooses to implement, will affect the attitude and behavior of its employees, considering that, through corporate policies, employees are able to realize the intention the management team has towards employees. Employees are viewed as an integral organizational part. According to Tallman and Bruning (2008) the personality of employees influences their attitude and behavior in the working environment and, therefore, their personality affects the psychological contract. The findings of the study of Parzefall and Hakanen (2010) supported that perceived psychological contract fulfilment had both motivational (reduced turnover intentions) and health-enhancing (mental health) effects, highlighting the centrality of perceived psychological contract fulfilment to employees, and the importance of work engagement as a positive affective-cognitive state at work.
Human resources belong to the intangible assets of a company that are hard to be copied by competitors and can be used as many times as it wishes. Furthermore, they cannot be bought or acquired in short-term (Williams et al., 1991). There exist 4 criteria upon which sources of competitive advantage can be created: 1) value creation for the customer, 2) rareness, 3) ability of substitution and 4) ability of imitation (Sanchez et al., 2000, p. 314). Human resources fulfil the above criteria; therefore it is important to invest effort, time and money in them. Gill et al. (2010, p.270) suggested that it is important that immediate supervisors and managers help their employees to be team players, work together toward common goals, think about old problems in new ways, use their intelligence to overcome obstacles and show respect for their employees' personal feelings. There are many approaches to productivity enhancement, that help organizations build strategy and achieve performance goals, but they require significant changes in employee behavior and because of employees' resistance to change their impact are often limited (Goncharuk and Monat, 2009).
The type of behavior and attitude that employees choose to adopt in the working environment, depending on whether it is productive or no, will influence the company's performance. Therefore the use of suitable management practices can affect positively the attitude and the behavior of employees, in order to achieve the desired results.
Improving Employees' Behaviors and Relationship Management in the Workplace - A conceptual framework
Employees' behavior and relationships in the workplace can be improved using tools that provide information about behavior, emotions, communication and, in general, relationships between people.Transactional Analysis and Emotional Intelligence can provide insights in a workplace, in order to help an employee to better explain the behavior, emotions and attitudes of himself and of his colleagues.
Transactional Analysis can help an individual to understand his everyday interactions better and gain a great deal of insight into his own reactions and responses to others, by recognizing which ego state he is in, at a given time (Hayes, 2000, p.274). An Ego State is defined as a consistent pattern of feelings and experiences relating to corresponding, consistent pattern of behaviors (Barker, 1980, p.6; Stewart and Joines, 1987, p.15). According to Transactional Analysis Theory, every person has three ego states, which are separate and distinctive sources of behavior: the Parent Ego State, the Adult Ego State and the Child Ego State (Schaeffer, 2009 p. 43). The Parent Ego State reflects all the attitudes, behaviors and emotions which have been copied from parental figures at the early stages of a person's life (Hayes, 2002, p.295). It is the part of a person (in relation to itself and others) that keeps traditions, sets limits and rules, gives advice, criticises, consults, protects and nurtures (McKay et al., 2009, p.90; Barker, 1980, p.6). The Adult Ego State makes decisions upon facts and objective evaluation of data / information. An individual who acts from the Adult Ego State does not behave based on its emotions, but upon what is the more appropriate and useful thing to do in each circumstance (Stewart, 2005, p.496). The Child Ego State reflects the emotions and impulsive reactions which are similar to the emotions and impulsive reactions of a child (Cameron, 1999, p.309). This Ego State can be a source of creativity and spontaneous reaction (Steiner, 1990, p.28). It is the centre of a person's feelings and emotions (Barker, 1980, p.7).
Emotional Intelligence (EI) aims to help everyone to utilize their own emotions as well as the emotions of others to accomplish a prescribed action (Chrusciel, 2006, p.646). The goal of Emotional Intelligence Theory is to help an individual to develop a number of personal and social competencies, in the means of learned capabilities, which will enable him to recognize his own feelings and those of others, motivate himself and others, and manage emotions in himself and his relationships (Goleman, 1998, p.317). According to Goleman et al. (2002) these personal and social competencies constitute four basic EI components: self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness and relationship management. The development of these abilities, and therefore the development of Emotional Intelligence, affects positively employees' behavior. Employees with high Emotional Intelligence (EI) are able to balance between emotion and reason, aware of their own feeling, empathic and compassionate towards others and also show high sign of self esteem. Thus, they are happier, healthier and more successful in their relationships. On the other hand, employees with low EI, which is associated with feelings such as anger, frustration, depression, fear, guilt, stress and failure, are likely to lead to general unhappiness (Singh, 2006. p.17).
When a person is able to identify from which ego state he is behaving, the next step is to recognize the ego states from other people (McKay et al., 2009, p.92). Furthermore, improving the self-awareness of an individual means that he improves his ability to manage himself, does not adapt inappropriate behaviors, and hence to manage better his relations with other people. In addition, being a person able (1) to recognize the ego states from him as well as from the other colleagues in the workplace and (2) to manage himself, as well as his relationships with other, can contribute the improvement of communication. Communication in the workplace is very important: not to be able to communicate and adopt the right behavior towards internal and external customers can affect the quality of the working environment as well as the quality of the products/ services of an organization (Figure 2).
Being able to identify the ego states of oneself
Being able to identify the ego states of colleagues
Managing relations with others
Figure 2: Theoretical Framework
Being Able to Identify the Ego States of Oneself - Self-Management
An individual's ego state should not be confused with his personality. All the behavior, way of thinking and feelings of a person can be categorized into one of the above three ego states (Fatout, 1992, p. 109). People shift from one ego state to another, depending on the situation, the person with whom they are interacting, etc. (Northhouse, 2010, p.274). Every person has an ego state from which it prefers to, mostly, behave. A common problem is that a person operates from the wrong ego state or a specific ego state shuts out the other two. In any individual, one ego state does not operate independently from the other ego states, which frequently interact with each other in order to give an "internal dialogue". At this case the Adult ego state should interact and monitor and block the oppression of the "Parent" and misconceptions of the "Child" (Barker, 1980, p.16).
The use of Transactional Analysis can aid an individual to understand his behavior by recognizing the ego states from which he mainly behaves. The behavior of any employee is influenced from the way he sees himself in the workplace and how his colleagues see him. In order to improve communication a person must recognize the ego state from which he is communicating. Recognizing the ego states means that a person is able to track negative behaviors that hinder communication. Collecting information during a communication helps a person to understand why communication sometimes can fail, helping a person to react better in future situations, reducing any negative feelings and behaviors. People can be taught switching Ego States intentionally rather than unconsciously (Pheysey, 1993, p.125). Transactional Analysis helps people to react positively in any situation that they face in their work and personal life. By observing the three ego states a person in it and in others, then the adjustment of behavior in order to improve relationships can be done more easily, helping a person to improve its behavior and understand how it relates to others (Lynch, 1996, p.57).
Self-awareness and self-management, the personal components of Emotional Intelligence, can help an individual to understand and control his emotions, and thus his behavior. Self-awareness involves having a deep understanding of one's emotions, as well as one's strengths and limitations and one's values and motives (Goleman et al., 2002, p. 40). Goleman considers very important the ability to think things over rather than react impulsively and acknowledged this sensitivity to context and values to be a foundation for personal competence that enabled people to develop a clear understanding of the principles that ultimately form the basis of how they wish to live (Caldwell, 2009, p. 395).
Fletcher and Bailey (2003) pointed out that self-awareness also includes the degree to which an individual is sensitive to how he is perceived by others. Individuals who are more aware of how they are perceived by others are better at integrating information from others into their behavior (Moshavl et al., 2003, p. 407). According to Whetten and Cameron (2007) self-awareness is critical to an individual's ability to communicate with and build relationships of trust with others. Individuals high in self-awareness are skilled at self-monitoring and in adapting their behaviors to relate effectively with others (Caldwell, 2009, p. 395).
A high self-aware employee is able to determine whether the emotions he feels are reasonable in the situation, and adopt multiple perspectives to assess a problem from all sides, including pessimistic and optimistic perspectives. By adopting multiple perspectives, an employee can determine the appropriate emotional state to facilitate the solution of the problem, or resolve the conflicting emotions he may be feeling (Jordan et al., 2002, p.366).
Self-management refers to the ability to reduce, enhance, or modify an emotional response in oneself and others, as well as the ability to experience a range of emotions while also making decisions about the appropriateness or usefulness of the emotion in a given situation (Bracket et al, 2006, p. 781). According to Mayer and Salovey (1997) self-management enables individuals to connect with or to disconnect from an emotion, depending on its usefulness in any given situation. The ability to effectively manage emotions facilitates outcomes in a workplace. Employees with high EI are more likely to effectively identify their emotions, which will provide them with an awareness of their feelings and the ability to accurately read other people's feelings. Understanding emotions offers insights into what motivates people and others' points of view, while managing emotions allows an individual to deal with their feelings constructively at work (King and Gardner, 2006, p.189).
Being Able to Identify the Ego States of Colleagues - Managing Relations with Others
Transactional Analysis and Emotional Intelligence are valuable tools which can help an individual first to better explain the behavior, emotions and attitudes of him and second of other people. In particular, once a person becomes familiar with the Transactional Analysis Model, it can identify the predominant ego states and the emotional tone that is hidden behind a reaction of a colleague (Wellin, 2007).
Eric Berne insisted that the ego states of a person can be recognized from the words, voice, gestures, and attitudes (Mullins, 2006, p.164). Transactional Analysis helps to understand the behavior of other people which is especially important in the workplace, improving the communication, particularly in stressful situations. According to Mullins (2006) by, first, recognizing the ego state of a person in a communication encounter and, then, by interpreting it, every employee can choose the most appropriate ego state to respond, in order to improve communication and/ or avoid a conflict. Hence, both customer (internal and external) relationships can be improved as well as management subordinate relations.
Identifying the ego states of a colleague is not an easy task. Moreover it gets more difficult when a person isn't able to identify the ego states he is responding from during a communication. A helpful exercise for an employee would be to pay attention during a particular discussion within a meeting. Kagan and Evans (2001) suggest that during an observation of a work team following things should be noticed:
What ego states are expressed?
What impact do they have for the progress of the discussion?
What roles are being adapted?
Do the same people adapt the same ego states in different situations and in a variety of people?
Furthermore, managing the relations with others in the workplace requires emotional intelligent employees. Emotional intelligent individuals can manage emotions and achieve to motivate others towards a worthwhile end (Salovey et al., 2004, p.15). Every employee is expected to have specific skills, knowledge, and experience in order to be effective and to meet the expected goals. But these requirements are not enough and are not a prerequisite for success in the workplace. According to Goleman (1998) one of the crucial skills that are related to emotional intelligence is communication, as well as cooperation and teamwork. Emotional Intelligence includes the ability to regulate and alter the affective reactions to others (Salovey et al., 2004, p.14). The ability to understand others, manage the relationships with them and work with them productively is divided into two dimensions: (1) social awareness and (2) relationship management. Social awareness means taking an active interest in others: listen to them, sensing their feelings needs and concerns, while relationship management depicts the ability to inspire and influence others, collaborate with them and manage conflicts (Roussel et al., 2006, p.30). Adapting such attitudes by employees leads to win-win situations, especially when conflicts arise; satisfying everyone's needs (Shih and Susanto, 2010). Furthermore, according to Carmeli et al. (2009) highly emotionally intelligent individuals are likely to experience psychological wellbeing at a higher level than individuals who are low in emotional intelligence.
Emotional Intelligence is a positive influence on management strategy and is a mean to assess how an organization can improve staff performance and productivity, and develop a more effective Human Resources strategy (Chrusciel, 2006). Thus, it is important to select the right employees, because they influence the moral and attitudes of their colleagues. Rozell and Scroggins (2010) suggested that (1) individuals with low levels of emotional intelligence may misunderstand the emotions of fellow team members and (2) team members who have extremely high levels of emotional intelligence may, also, experience dissatisfaction with the group because of a hyper-sensitive ability and awareness of group member interactions.
Working with other people in the workplace can sometimes become very difficult, especially when facing stressful situations. Both Transactional Analysis Theory as well as Emotional Intelligence can provide useful insights to an employee in order to be able to improve his behavior, his relationships with others, his productivity and to contribute to the successful execution of the corporate strategy. The field of Emotional Intelligence can help and individual improve self-awareness and communication with others, while the theory of Transactional Analysis helps to interpret the interactions between ourselves and others (Otazo, 2006, p.219).
The analysis of the ego states may reveal why communication may fail or why individuals may have negative feelings (Mullins, 2007, p.226). In a healthy work environment, communication should be addressed from an Adult to Adult ego state, i.e. fostering a culture where the synergistic effect of all three Ego States is rational. Transactional analysis can aid to the understanding of human behavior, improving the communication skills, by interpreting (1) the ego state of the other person and (2) realizing from which ego state the best response can be produced (Mullins, 2007, p.227). Furthermore, through the transactional analysis concepts an individual can develop active listening skills. The benefits of active listening, for the person that sends the message, are to receive feedback, think more clearly, be committed in solving problems, and for the person that receives the message, are to have a clear mind, interact with the speaker, reflect feelings, be engaged in problem solving, etc. (Pont, 2003, p.134).
Thus, transactional analysis helps to determine the basis from which an individual is communicating and thus to decide how to respond (Pont, 2003, p.133). Especially in difficult situations, the knowledge of transactional analysis can be a benefit for employees (Mullins, 2007, p.227). Being able to communicate better helps to reduce prejudices in the workplace and eliminate misunderstandings and conflicts. Hence, effective communication is the key for every business who wants to be successful, because no strategy can be executed, no plan can be implemented, and no practice can be successful, if the communication fails.
In addition, emotional intelligent individuals are able to apply the 4 dimensions of Emotional Intelligence, i.e. self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management, which in return facilitates the communication in the workplace. As Chrusciel (2006, p.652) points out, an individual may be able to excel in an environment which requires minimal social interaction, but become frustrated in one which requires complex communications and interactions. Emotional intelligence can help a person to overcome barriers during a communication encounter, to manage better himself and his relationships with other colleagues and, hence, to create a positive work environment. According to Clarke (2010, p.139) a clear link exist between emotional awareness and emotional management improving the team processes of communication and conflict management as a result of critical reflection.
Improving Communication and Quality
Communication is considered to be a vital factor for quality in organizations, especially when quality improvements are necessary. In this case, communication becomes the driver for informing every employee what needs to be achieved and/ or improved. The findings of Sias (2005) suggest that the quality of information individuals receive in the workplace increases their job satisfaction and commitment to the organization.
Quality can't be achieved without the contribution of the human factor. Therefore, creating a positive environment, which is distinguished for its co-operation, open communication and trust, is essential. Quality can be achieved in organizations only when managers create an organizational culture that focuses on consistently developing quality products or services (Demirbag and Sahadev, 2008, p.495). In addition, according to Bin Abdullah et al. (2008) significant influence on quality improvement can have the management commitment; customer focus; employee involvement; training and education; and reward and recognition.
Motivating employees in order to be effective and efficient in their jobs, and, hence, to improve quality is substantial in order to gain new customers, to retain the old ones and, finally, to improve the profits of the organization (Bienstock et al., 2003). In this context, Emotional Intelligence and Transactional Analysis Theory can be substantial tools in order to help employees to be quality oriented, focusing, also on continuous improvements. Quality can be improved in many levels (working environment, products and services, relationships between colleagues/ managers-subordinates/ employees and clients, etc.).
Being able to manage emotions and also to understand the behavior of oneself and of the colleagues can improve the quality of the work environment. Emotional intelligence can help an individual to sense the emotions of the service user, providing better services (Nishida, et al., 2010, p.13). Furthermore, improving the behavior of employees in the workplace - using the concepts of Transactional Analysis Theory - can be beneficial for a company in many ways. According to Beatson et al. (2008) employee behaviors are positively related to consumer's evaluations, and, hence, adapting similar behaviors can most likely effect the quality of the relationship, e.g. satisfaction, trust and commitment.
The turbulent environment and the increased competition urge companies to seek for areas that can improve their competitiveness. Therefore, organizations need to explore new ways which can help to improve the behavior, attitude and emotions of their employees in the workplace. Transactional Analysis and Emotional Intelligence must be seen as tools that can cause chain reactions in the workplace.
Every individual has an ego state from which he chooses to communicate most of the time (i.e. with criticism, strong emotions, rationality, anger, etc.). Transactional Analysis can be a valuable tool in order to improve communications, especially when people aren't responding from their Adult ego state, i.e. being rational. Hence, it can help employees understand human behavior, and to choose from which ego state it is more appropriate to respond, in order to improve communication and diminish misunderstandings. As a result, the customer relations, as well as the management-subordinate relations can be improved (Mullins, 2006, p.165).
In addition, every employee in the workplace, most probably, hasn't the same levels of Emotional Intelligence with their colleagues. Investing in human resources and train them in order for every employee to be able to manage himself and his relationships with other colleagues is important. People can improve on the emotional intelligence competencies, but also can sustain them for years (Goleman, 2002, p.105). That's why it is important for managers to help their subordinates to improve not, only their technical skills, but also the skills that can help them improve their emotional intelligence. Chrusciel (2006) suggests that the emphasis on EQ helps employees to improve themselves, but there are also a lot of benefits for the company as well.
Companies can create the right behavior by providing the right incentives and shaping an environment that fosters the desired behavior and leads to the expected results. Creating a positive work environment where the behavior of every employee is rational can help improve productivity, quality and reduce any mistakes or problems that result from stress, misunderstandings and confusions. Companies need to focus on the motivation of their employees in order to adapt the right behavior, perform their roles well, so that the organization's products/ services completely satisfy the needs of the customer. In return, a satisfied customer is not only loyal, but can also attract new customers.