HR Strange But True!
January 18, 2007

Workers in bad moods can help make your company more creative and productive, according to research conducted by Jing Zhou, an associate professor of management at Rice University's Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management.

The researcher says that employers should avoid viewing employees in bad moods as detrimental to their organizations.

"Negative moods should not be viewed as detrimental," says Zhou. "They should be understood and treated as a necessary part of the creative process. I'm not advocating that managers go out and promote bad moods. But bad moods occur naturally, and when they do, managers should use these opportunities to encourage employees to identify potential problems and think of ways to improve things."

The negative moods can help spark important change if management provides a supportive environment. A bad mood can alert workers that a problem exists and can motivate them to address it, she says. Workers in bad moods can spot problems that workers in positive moods may miss.

"With the right support, a bad mood alerts us to shortfalls and motivates us to work really hard to identify and correct problems," says Zhou. "A sense of dissatisfaction with the status quo, with the way things are right now, can push people to develop ideas and find creative solutions. That happens in the workplace if the environment allows it."

Zhou says that both good and bad moods play important roles in the creative process.

"Both mood states have the potential to contribute to creativity in important and different ways," she says. "Managers should embrace this concept and understand how to support this duality. Good and bad moods should not be treated in isolation from each other because they work jointly to promote creativity. And creativity is a necessary precursor to innovation, which is increasingly recognized as critical for organizational effectiveness."

Source: Research@Rice

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