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 The importance of emotional polling reports  

Article by Footdown Head of Research Tegan Allen. 
 
The result of the UK parliamentary election was a shock to many and a surprise to most others. The election was a process participated in by around 30 million UK residents – 66% of the country, with the Conservatives winning 37% of the share of the vote. With the polls misleading pundits and the public for the entire campaign leading up to the election, the nation was left in a mixed state of emotion following a shock majority government. 
 
In organisations, leaders are constantly meeting unexpected circumstances, making decisions, often complex, and facing a mix of emotional responses from their teams. With of all these challenges at play, how do you deal with the spectrum of varying responses when managing change? 
 
Talk to your team. 
 
There’s a question we ask each other, often daily, but I think it’s fair to say, most rarely give an honest response to: “How are you?”. This simple question is so frequently met with an automatic “fine” or ”good”, “well thanks and you?” that we often miss the chance to connect, to better understand each other and bypass an opportunity to work better as a high performing team. 
 
Tony Schwartz, CEO of the Energy Project, writes in the New York Times on the importance of naming emotions at work. He notes “many of us aren’t aware of how we’re feeling at any given moment or what the impact may be”. 
 
At Footdown, for over a decade we have adopted a process of checking in with each other, that doesn’t allow for rote responses, called “personal scores”. Each person rates four areas of their lives out of 10: self, family and friends, organisation and colleagues, and a score is attributed according to how these areas are felt about in the moment. Individuals are able to elaborate on any of these areas and particularly low scores are often respectfully enquired about. 
The impact of this simple activity is felt in the palpable change of mood and sense of empathy within the team. Knowing someone is having a bad day may allow us to treat him or her a little more gently for a period and ameliorate a feeling of unease felt by a colleague by having others know what is occurring outside of the office. It also gives the individual a chance to share a difficulty at home or constructively raise an awareness of their challenges at work that might not be so easy to do outside of this opportunity. 
 
Understanding the true highs and lows of the lives of the people you’re working with builds a culture of trust, support and understanding, which all aids the creation of high performing teams. We start all our company meetings, mentoring sessions and often external meetings with “personal scores”. Ultimately, knowing your team, realising pressures and sharing celebrations allows each of us to respond to each other in a more empathetic, supportive and human way. This in turn increases empathy and engagement, which helps to build great teams, which in turn can build great organisations.