Stop outsourcing your emotions at work

robots-optRobots: They look cool, but they don’t give a damn.

What if I would tell you that you are outsourcing one of the most powerful motivators at work, without even paying attention?

Do you remember the last time you got a gift at work for your birthday? Well, did one of your teammates actually make the effort of buying and picking it up or was it a “recommendation” passed to Human Resource department, who made it happen?

Looking back at the companies I’ve worked for, it seems that we somehow outsourced most of our ways to show our teammates we care about them. It was comfortable, so naturally, as the company grew, it became easier to outsource the “tedious work” of showing genuine interest and making the effort. A few other examples that come to mind:

  1. Welcoming new employees – do you personally introduce new employees to everyone else or do you let HR do it? Are you responsible for the workstation to be prepared or is it an “IT problem”? Do you prepare some kind of personal starter kit to WOW them on their first day at work?
  2. Life changing events (e.g. new baby, moving to a new apartment, getting a dog) –Do you let someone else send them the obvious “flowers & chocolates” combo?
  3. Holidays – are you writing a personal note to each teammate on New Year’s Eve or is there a generic gift that everyone gets?
  4. Fun days for the team – are you taking care of it by yourself or you wait for someone else to figure it all out for you?

I think we give up too quickly. We let someone else in the organization take care of our own people’s happiness.  Having a great HR department should assist and support you. They should nurture and celebrate it, but not own it completely. Their willingness to help should not make you lazy, sloppy or numb. It’s making the effort which counts most, not picking the best possible gift every time.

Why outsourcing your emotions will eventually kill your company –

When you let someone else take care of your employees, at best, you’ll create a bond between your employees and your company, as these gifts are usually company-wide and lacking real personal investment from you. When you take care of it yourself, you’ll create a bond with your people. Even better, if you involve your teammates, you will make connections between them, encouraging them to show interest in each other. In a world where people switch jobs every 2 years on average, the worst thing you can do is create the wrong kind of bond – “People leave managers (and teams), not their companies”.
San Antonio Spurs coach, Greg Popovich, gets it:

Yes, we’re disciplined with what we do. But that’s not enough. Relationships with people are what it’s all about. You have to make players realize you care about them. And they have to care about each other and be interested in each other. Then they start to feel a responsibility toward each other. Then they want to do for each other.


Do you also feel we have outsourced our emotions or do you see it differently? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please drop me a comment and discuss on Hacker News.

btw – are you passionate about culture and people? If so, check out my latest side-project, SoftwareLeadWeekly.


Photo credit: Ѕolo.



Oren Ellenbogen

Curate awesomeness @ , Engineer @ Commerce Sciences, Author of , Explorer of Company DNA.