Mood Management

Moods influence possibilities. The topic of mood management summarizes how moods are dealt with in different types of organizations, and how important it is to find ways in which moods that are supportive of the intended outcomes are encouraged

A New Perspective

Every historical stage has a distinct perspective on mood management, and different practices:

Red organizations

In Red Organizations mood management boils down to submission to the mood of the (tribal) chief and his “family”. They oversee the foot soldiers. Fear and submission keep the organization from disintegrating.

Amber organizations

In Amber organizations the most senior 'knows' what is best for those lower in the hierarchy. These expectations are managed via roles and rules. Rewards are for those who follow the rules, and punishments for those who don’t. People may value this order and predictability.

Orange organizations

In Orange organizations it's about planned and efficient outcomes. Incentives are commonly used to achieve these organizational outcomes. They are designed to motivate/reward certain kinds of action, but not necessarily the feelings, or moods, that go with them.

Green organizations

In Green organizations harmony, tolerance and equality are valued. Teams and their health are important. The purpose is to boost motivation. HR may operate via processes like culture initiatives, 360-degree feedback and employee satisfaction surveys. Now there is a conscious focus on mood appearing. There is often an effort to satisfy all stakeholder needs (or moods).

Teal organizations

  • Mood Management is seen as integral and crucial to the creation of a space in which the intended outcomes can be achieved and the purpose of the organization served.
  • In Teal organizations the combination of worthwhile purpose, self-direction and collaboration contributes to elevated mood.
  • There is no HR function charged with 'mood management'. It is up to individuals and groups to develop practices that enable them to work harmoniously.
  • These practices may depart - sometimes radically - from traditional organizations. New recruits may find this difficult at first.
  • The best practices tend to be adopted across the organization.

In Practice

The way mood management works

Teal organizations recognize that mood mediates what is possible; that it predisposes certain courses of action, and closes off others. In self-managed organizations people value both autonomy and collaboration in pursuit of purpose. The practice of shared processes supports this. Purpose and practice conspire to produce a sense of shared belonging, alignment and potency. This sense of potency supports innovation. People have ideas, seek support from colleagues and, when they work, share the enjoyment of their wider acceptance. These successes give rise to stories and practices. These, combined with 'wholeness events' are two contributors to the mood in the organization.

Both may be used within hierarchical systems, too: they don’t depend on self-managing structures. But in Teal organizations they are more likely to arise from the inspiration of its members and their shared values. They may arise naturally, find their place, become openly adopted, and treasured.


The stories people tell themselves and others reflect and reinforce mood. They convey memorable instances of shared values at work. What mood do we wish to share, and celebrate? Playfulness? Concentration? Prudence? Joy? Pride? Care? Gratitude? Curiosity? Determination? If we are self-managed, this selection is likely to be different for different people.

Gratitude is one of the most powerful moods. We are satisfied. We drop our search for more. In this moment, we feel fulfilled. From that fullness, other emotions naturally emerge. We experience joy and generosity; we treat others with care. To nurture this consciously we need to discover and/or design practices that evoke gratitude, or related moods.

We can ask: What stories can we share that evoke the mood that serves us best? In this fashion, Teal organizations may create storytelling practices that support and expand the mood of appreciation while strengthening trust among the members.

Storytelling practices take many forms:

  • Starting meetings with each participant in turn sharing a brief story of someone they had recently thanked or congratulated. (FAVI)
  • Coming back to work from a day off (which included the task of expressing gratitude to somebody important in one's life), and sharing the experience with colleagues. (Ozvision)
  • The Friday afternoon “praise meeting” in a school: sharing stories of kindness, courage, care, or professionalism as key to the school’s exceptional learning culture. (ESBZ)
  • The “Good Stuff Friday” e-mail: Started by one of the colleagues and sent to the entire workforce thanking a colleague or department for something that happened that week, or simply to share some good news. It invariably triggers an avalanche of recognition. (BerylHealth)
Wholeness Events

Moods are also created by shared experiences: especially if they are filled with laughter, joy, fun, creativity, a feeling of trust, authenticity, belonging, acceptance and recognition.

Traditional organizations may sponsor events, too - typically by HR or the CEO, for team building or similar. However, in a Teal organization they usually emerge out of the organization itself. When people feel safe enough to take the initiative, it seems that these self-created and organized events emerge spontaneously. We long, deep inside, to be in all of our humanity: the funny and the quirky, as well as the serious and responsible. Human connections emerge from these places.

Wholeness Events can be all kinds of things, like:

  • The self-organized “Art Salon” where everyone is invited to share an artistic passion. Some display photographs and paintings. Others perform (songs, dances, juggling ...), and so on. If people really enjoy themselves, these can become regular institutions. (Sounds True)
  • Fun at breakfast by showing up in pajamas to celebrate spring: so much fun was had at the premiere of this that now 90% of staff join in the annual self-organized “Pajama Day”. It is a celebration of community, fun, and getting to know colleagues in a completely different way. (Sounds True)

Frequently Asked Questions

We certainly need money to thrive in a business. Should the questions be: What else do we need? Does this get in the way of, or support, financial health?

Many (especially younger employees) are disillusioned with what they perceive as an excessive focus on money; especially when it manifests as greed. The result is a widespread disengagement evident in surveys by Gallup and others.

A motivating work environment fosters financial success. Teal organizations offer this via more autonomy and more community in pursuit of worthwhile purpose. These are clear motivators. They elevate 'mood'; they foster engagement; which in turn can correlate with financial health.

'To deal with' infers 'to manage by others'. In some styles of organization this has been via programs initiated by senior management or HR.

In Teal organizations the practices that support elevated mood are often initiated by members and have optional participation. If staff can 'manage' their own practices, then the risk of being 'too personal' diminishes. It is fair to say, however, that new staff--especially senior ones--can find the move to a mood-sensitive organization difficult. This is a choice to be explored carefully during joining discussions.

If 'mood' determines the choices open to individuals, groups and organizations, it still ranks as an important consideration.

Concrete cases for inspiration

Related Topics

    Notes and references