A Psychoanalytic Approach to Managing Your Team

Have you ever had a team member that gets all emotional on you displaying anger, admiration and stress? How about a team member who takes criticism as appreciation?  Have you ever had a member of staff that eagerly aims for perfection? Perhaps, these situations are oddly familiar to you.

Sigmund Freud understands you. Sure thing, you’ve heard about the id, ego and superego. Proposed by the famous psychoanalyst, Freud, these are the three elements that compose one’s personality. Together, these elements work and create complex human behavior, making humans profound and mysterious creatures to delve with. This theory has considerable contribution to the improvement and understanding of various scientific fields such as managerial psychology.

Photo courtesy of Lumax Art via Flickr

Photo courtesy of Lumax Art via Flickr

To date, one of the facets of human is the psychological and social make-up. Thus, understanding personalities and behaviors using theories and methods such as psychoanalytical approach are vital. If this Freudian theory can be applied to content marketing, who’s to say this cannot be applied to managing your team?

Understanding Managing Challenges

The increased competition in global workforce, together with the increased challenges for organizations and teams to achieve and maintain success, has escalated. Such transformation poses challenges to all leaders of all types of teams.

In psychology, the theory of personality, argues that the structures and conflict in the human mind shapes personality. Clearly, personality has an impact on how people will react in a work environment and how they can be motivated to work. The quest for productivity has led to research in worker psychology and has spurred investigations to human nature.

Managing a team is more than just “supervising subordinates.”  It is as complicated as the individual behavior and what lies behind it. Learning how to strategically integrate the science of human behavior into your managerial tasks will support development of the members’ skills, working behavior and most highly team collaboration and empowerment.

The Pleasure Principle (I want it now!)

The id in psychoanalytic theory is the individual primitive drive and by large, operates according to pleasure principle. It sought instant gratification.

Managers have to address this ‘id’ element of every team member. You want to keep your valued team players happy and motivated. Keep feeding their ‘id’ by the simplest principle of emotion. That’s how it starts. Give them short term goals and reward them expressively. Leaders have always played a primordial emotional role. Greetings, compliments and motivational words will do. However, it is arguably just as important to identify ways to engage employees whose motivation to work derives primarily from an extrinsic orientation. Such employees see work as a means toward valued extrinsic ends.

The Sense of Self

Unlike the id, the ego element seeks to drive id in realistic ways that will benefit in the long term rather than bring brief satisfaction. The ego represents what we may call reason and common sense. In a more metaphorical description, ego is reason over passion, head over heart, rational over emotional mind.

In the workplace, you are the leader and in some sense, let your subordinate acknowledge the idea of authority. True to structure, understanding the powerful role of emotions in the workplace sets the best leaders apart from the rest – but don’t confuse authority from respect. You’re a manager for some reasons.

The Elevated Ego

In managerial psychology, superego frequently relates to egotist and in every office, there’s always at least one egotist – resented yet being paid better. More often than not, they are the leaders, managers and the bosses.

This term has been tied in either masculine or negative sense, perhaps lying alongside the term “arrogance.” When in reality super ego is an ultra positive term that needs to be used accurately. To review Freud’s definition of superego, this element contains the individual values and social morals, which [most of the time] come from the rules of right and wrong.  Same goes with work environment, leaders should have a heightened sense of what’s good and what’s not. However, a good sense of self is essential when managing your team using your elevated ego. Remember that confidence is good, arrogance isn’t. To quote Jenny Handley on performance management:

“When arrogant, you may be the only person who likes you! Arrogance has a level of superiority attached to it which many people find unattractive. Work hard at elevating your confidence by reminding yourself of what you do well, and by putting yourself with those who boost your confidence, those who see your potential and believe in you. Likewise, you will need to do the same for your followers.”

Great leaders move subordinates forward and upward. A single managerial strategy won’t work. Explore conscious and unconscious factors that directly or indirectly affect your team’s working behavior and find appropriate approach to manage your team.

Leaders, guide emotions, lead action, move people.

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About Jona Jone

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Jona Jone was a mortgage originator in Philadelphia, PA and is now a Business and Property Specialist. She writes about real estate investment, business, parenting and living. Follow Jona on Twitter.