Happy, sad or in-between: how emotions are just as important as figures

By Sarah Stowe | 29 Oct 2015 View comments

Your ability to detect emotions will help you earn more money in the workplace, while for field managers this will help to strengthen relationships with franchisees, too.       

This insight comes from a 2014 study conducted by Gerhard Blickle, a psychologist at Germany’s University of Bonn.

The more you’re in touch with your colleague’s emotions and your own emotions the better you will find yourself navigating the workplace.

In Professor Blickle’s paper, 142 people were asked to listen to recordings and look at pictures to decipher emotion.  Participants were then asked to place what they heard and saw into three categories: happy, sad or angry

The average success rate was 77 percent while really good recognisers identified 90 percent of emotion. Poor recognisers of emotion identified at 60 percent.

To consolidate the results of the study, researchers approached participants’ colleagues to ask how politically in-touch they were – if they appeared sincere and adept at forming relationships at work.

This helped to link statistics to characteristics.

So, the case for shedding light on the importance of emotional intellect is gaining increasing traction in the corporate world, and has been a quiet method for some companies since the 1990s: L’Oreal started using emotional intelligence when hiring its salespeople, which lead to a net revenue increase of about $2.5 million over the year.

In a recent Franchise Relationships Institute (FRI) conference, results were released from a survey of 463 franchisees that looked at the effectiveness of field managers, finding 24 percent of comments made by 270 respondents want their field managers to take more interest in their concerns.

Additionally, out of 265 comments 21 percent want more physical and emotional engagement from their field manager.

The field manager, franchisee relationship

Hairhouse Warehouse field manager Susan Skermer said that listening to franchisees is crucial when communicating with them. It’s this action that ensures a healthy relationship between field manager and franchisee is existent.

But she outlined that there’s a level of importance in not getting too chummy or emotionally in-touch with franchisees.

“The role of a field manager is to make sure that they are always a brand protector. The important thing to remember is that as a franchisee they own their business, so this respect must always be taken into consideration. 

“It’s important to not get too friendly with franchisees in the role of a field manager as sometimes this can lead to emotional decisions being undertaken. Always maintain professionalism and make business decisions based on fact.   

“I always make sure that I listen, often what a franchisee may be saying about something is not the actual issue, from this conversation you can often tell what part of the journey a franchisee is on.  It is important that you treat them with respect and work with them as partners. They are all on different stages of their journey and situations we need to manage with this in mind,” Skermer said.

While the role of the field manager in the franchising model is to mediate between franchisor and franchisee, Skermer made it clear that a field manager’s sole goal should be concerned with protecting the franchisor’s brand.

“The concern for the franchisor is that the brand is protected at all times.  The role of the field manager is to make sure that we are helping franchisees to see the importance of working with the brand for their profitability and success.”

Caring for your colleagues is considerably important for Skermer and making sure everyone is on the same page is what leads to a healthy rapport.

“The importance here is that you have a team and that everyone can connect a community of people you can go to who may have had a similar problem that can guide you in a way that you may not have thought of.  Sometimes you just need that person to talk to and listen to you, other times you need solutions. Communication with a capital C.

“You need to make sure that you sit back, observe and listen to ascertain how they are feeling before you go in with lots of advice and solutions. Knowing how a franchisee feels will give you better results because you are able to work through the emotion with them and bring it back to facts based solutions.”

But things can go wrong in this process, even if the field manager is doing everything in their power. Skermer shared a testy time with Franchise Business that she encountered in one of her former roles before joining Hairhouse Warehouse.

“I had a franchisee who was incredibly angry at head office over a series of things, I walked into the store 15 minutes early for my appointment and was greeting by a Stanley knife wielding angry franchisee, who quickly told me to get out of her store. I left and then when I came back I calmly discussed her anger. 

“The question ‘tell me about what is going on for you?’ is a good one as she got the chance to talk about everything, I got the chance to make a list of her problems, solve a couple of them with quick wins, this earned her trust and she soon started to allow me into the business as she could see how I was adding value each time,” Skermer said.

Field managers can enhance the franchise business

Field managers have the capacity to either enhance or damage the franchise operation they work. For Asia-Pacific Centre for Franchising Excellence at Griffith University general manager Kerry Miles, the way in which we think about how hard working franchisees yield returns should be applied to field managers, too.

Passion and selflessness is a must. In other words, a self-serving field manager is only toxic to the brand.

“Just as the industry has been putting more resources into educating their potential and new franchisees, it could be said that the same level of due diligence is required for the staff who they entrust with their most important relationship of all – their field managers. Franchise field managers need to be embedded in their company’s culture, be part of the team, and carry out their role in an ethical and transparent way,” Miles said.

An ever-transforming business world requires that everyone is on their toes, especially field managers. So with business operations constantly evolving the shift often requires field managers to adapt on the fly. Their job is a pivotal part of the business’s success because they’re always juggling between the franchisee and the franchisor.

“A franchise field manager is no exception to that. In fact, they are often dealing with a unique trust system that can wreak havoc on those who do not have the right training, support and resources. Ideally, to keep a positive mindset they need to have all the building blocks of confidence ticked off,” Miles said.

Marketing tutor at Griffith University Anthony Grace has been researching the issue of trust in franchising relationships and said that while there is a legal contract signed by franchisee and franchisor, there’s a psychological one mapped out, too.

A good franchise relationship is built on trust

“An important trait of a trustworthy field manager is their commitment to showing genuine care for the franchisees. This display of kindness and support is an essential contributor to building trust, as well as facilitating a friendly and positive relationship. Although there is a legal contract signed by both the franchisee and the franchisor, there is also a psychological contract.

“A franchising consultant suggested the psychological contract is ‘more important than the legal contract because it is what drives behaviour’. Therefore, the franchisee, the field managers, and the franchisor are inextricably linked to one another – commercially, legally, and psychologically,” Grace said.

What is the best way to reduce disputes and achieve success for both parties? Well, according to Grace, sound emotional awareness is at the root of it all.

“Emotional awareness is an important factor in any relationship. Having a conscious awareness of how you communicate, the tone of your voice, as well as your emotional state, can by influential in dictating the direction of the relationship. Research shows that franchisees reacted favourably to being recognised by their franchisor for performing well. They enjoyed receiving a ‘pat on the back’ from their franchisor when they did a good job.”