Be Emotional and Build a High-Performing Team

Filed under Becoming a PM | Posted by MMeloni

Be Emotional and Build a High-Performing Team


“As a business student, you don’t want to show compassion; you don’t want to let your guard down, you’re taught to be strong and not show emotion.” This is a quote from Samantha Serna, a business student who was drafted with other members of her class to participate in compassion training.

Do you agree with her?

Have you been taught not to show emotions in the workplace? You do not want to be insensitive, but maybe you worry that if people know that you care about them they will walk all over you. Or they might misinterpret your feelings and you certainly do not want that.

Yet you know that toxic teams decrease your chances for project success. If your project does not succeed, neither do you. Time and again you read how it is your responsibility as a project manager to build a high-performing team.

Consider some of the traits of a high-performing team:

• Team members trust one another
• Team members work toward the same goal
• Team members face conflict and diffuse tension
• Team members carry their own weight YET know that when they need help their team mates will jump in

How can you accomplish this without caring about your team members and without feeling like they care about you?

When you know that your team members will jump in to help you and you are willing to jump in and help them, it is because you care. You might argue that the caring is about team success and not about people. If you have ever had a difficult time deciding to help someone out, it is typically because you have some hard feelings toward that person. It is definitely easier when you do not have feelings of hostility toward the team member who needs assistance.

Now what about trust? Can you really trust someone you do not care about? Or look at it this way, why would that person be trustworthy toward you if they do not care about you? I suppose you can make a case for trustworthiness as separate from caring about others. Perhaps you are trustworthy as a matter of general principle. Is it easy for you to have friendly feelings for someone you cannot trust?

Let’s think about the true high-performing team. They really do go beyond being functional and although they do all focus on the same goal, it is their strong bonds that make them high performing. It is very difficult to develop a bond with team members if you think that they do not care about you.

Compassion at work means caring about your team members. Team members who feel cared about have more positive experiences and attitudes. These positive experiences and attitudes lay the foundation for the creation of a high performing team.

For more on how “How to Increase Compassion at Work.” check out –

[1] Suttle, Jill. “How to Increase Compassion at Work.” How to Increase Compassion at Work. February 15, 2015. Accessed March 12, 2015.