Thursday, June 08, 2006

Caution: Touchy-Feely Subject Matter Ahead!

OK, maybe I'm a little sensitive, but I heard the "touchy-feely" comment earlier this week during the supervisory training class I'm conducting for a manufacturing client.

We were talking about the quote "They won't care how much you know until they know how much you care" as it relates to building relationships between the supervisors and the people they supervise. I was giving suggestions for getting opinions and feelings from the employees and one of the participants said that sounded a little touchy-feely to him.

So we started talking about how different management is today from even 10 years ago. It's almost painful for me to imagine a work environment where an employee is actually told: "You'll do what I say or there will be someone else to take your job who will do what I say." The person who shared that comment from his work experience acknowledged that that type of command and control "boss-ship" just wouldn't cut it today (thank heavens!).

Some of the participants in the class reluctantly admitted that they recognize that they get better results from their workers when they demonstrate at least some level of humanity and compassion. Reluctantly, I think, because it might force them into the fluid and ever-changing world of feelings and emotions.

There are a few books on this subject that I've found to be extremely enlightening. Perhaps the most striking is Leadership and Self Deception by the Arbinger Institute. In this book we learn, through the story of Tom & Laura, Bud, Kate and Zagrum Industries, that the problems they face at the company really aren't separate problems at all, but symptoms of the single problem of self-deception.

It's not easy to admit to anyone else, maybe especially to ourselves, that we are less than effective in our leadership - and that we might have to take some responsibility for the things that are happening in our lives (both "good" and "bad"). But that's the key to getting new results at work and at home.

Is it touchy-feely to talk about these "soft" skills? Before we judge, let's investigate and check out the bottom line - in areas like employee engagement, retention, productivity, complaints, and attendance. That's where the soft stuff can pay off in hard results.

What do you see in your work environments? Are there any results you can see from promoting or working in a love-based workplace as opposed to a command-and-control fear-based one?


At 4:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Good comments about "touchy feely." I often don't use the word feelings in workplace presentations just for that reason.

I use the word emotion and tell people when you drop the e you have motion and that to know and respond to people's emotions will give you a sense of motion and action.

Not just touchy feely stuff!


At 12:29 PM, Blogger Jodee Bock said...


Thanks for visiting - sorry I didn't have a chance to get together with you in Winnipeg - we were quite busy that weekend, but love your city!

This particular training session has as one of the components "Talk with individuals concerned and get opinions and feelings." So I can't really avoid the word "feelings," but for the most part it's worked out. The guy who mentioned the touchy-feely comment early in the week didn't show up for the rest of the classes, so it turned out OK anyway.

I really like the "e-motion" definition! Thanks for that!

Take care!


At 6:35 PM, Blogger Phil Gerbyshak said...

Interesting topic Jodee. I think that the "touchy feely" things often do give GREAT results, but unfortunately many corporations are still a good old boys' club in which these old boys are afraid to show that they are "weak" by sharing their feelings. When will corporations get it? Probably about the same time we have more women than men C-level executives, if I had to place a bet on a time.

Good point about motion and e-motion David. I'd never heard of it that way.

Here's to love in the workplace for ALL of us!


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