Inside Out, the latest smash-hit Pixar flick, is smart, entertaining, and – even though the movie is set inside an 11-year-old girl’s mind – completely applicable to the workplace. Get to know the characters better and you’ll gain insight into the different types of personalities that keep your company going, no matter how sad, disgusted, scared, or angry they may seem to be.
“We’re going to have a good day, which will turn into a good week, which will turn into a good year, which will turn into a good life!” ~ Joy
Joy is the perpetually optimistic employee. People marvel (and scowl) at her enthusiasm and energy. Joy is a great asset to any team. She rallies the troops and always sees the positives. But she may be so focused on things being right and perfect all the time that she is reluctant to allow other – less stable – emotions take control. She’s inflexible and controlling, even though she delivers her messages with a smile. Don’t discourage Joy, but make sure she allows others to have a voice.
“You met Sadness. She. Well, she. I’m not actually sure what she does. And I’ve checked, there’s no place for her to go. So. She’s good. We’re good. It’s all great.” ~ Joy
Sadness’s colleagues fluctuate between trying to cheer her up and keeping their distance. But by the end of Inside Out, viewers come to realize just how much wisdom Sadness has to offer, and how essential she is. Instead of excluding Sadness because you don’t understand her, take time to see her perspective. You may discover that Sadness is more in tune with what’s going on than you realize – after all, often being excluded from the group means she has time to read the manuals and instruction guides. Her knowledge and insight are remarkable.
“That’s Fear. He’s really good at keeping Riley safe.” ~ Joy
Fear is an emotion no one ever wants to own up to. For this employee, organization is key: knowing what’s next, being prepared for disaster, having Plans A, B, C, and beyond. Fear’s personality is an asset to your crew. But while this worker feels confident speaking up where he knows what’s what, in unexpected situations Fear can freak out. He may think he’s incapable of handling the tough stuff. Fear needs support and encouragement to try new things, even if they might fail. Value his unique point-of-view.
“This is Disgust. She basically keeps Riley from being poisoned, physically and socially.” ~ Joy
Disgust is super-conscious about appearances. And being meticulous about her own image means she takes great pride in making your company look good too. Disgust perseveres when she knows (or believes) she’s right. When faced with unfamiliar territory, Disgust steps up, even if she’s feeling inadequate and wishing others would take charge. This might be your marketing person, who isn’t afraid to speak up when something is unappealing. Disgust is clever and carefully considers the consequences of her actions ten steps ahead of everyone else. Appeal to her vanity and she’ll walk miles for you.
“That’s Anger. He… cares very deeply about things being fair.” ~ Joy
Anger is a volatile character. When he’s not raging, he can be a little disgruntled but you might be surprised to discover just how delighted Anger is by the little things. Anger allows other people to push his buttons because he loves a good excuse to shout. This hot head moves quickly, always ready to take action while not often taking time to think things through. This can get Anger in trouble – and lacking the tools to patch things up adequately. Don’t curb Anger’s passion for what he does, but be ready to help him put on the brakes before he courts disaster.
Bring the Inside Out
Clearly, we all have more than just five emotions in our head, but Pixar had to draw the line somewhere to make sure their film wasn’t chaos. What’s important to acknowledge is that everyone has a range of emotions, so while some employees seem stuck in a pool of anger or an explosion of joy, they’re a little bit of every emotion, even though one may dominate.
Employee retention is about respecting differences and appreciating the unique opinions each person brings to your team. Instead of trying to change who people inherently are, learn how to adapt to them and help them adapt to your workplace so you can work together. Don’t expect the happy person to always be happy. Don’t think the sad person has nothing to offer. Each person is capable of good and bad, happy and sad, and every emotion in between.
(Photo courtesy of Disney/Pixar)