Bad-tempered teams do best at mental tasks

Ever wondered why successful writers are such sweet and friendly characters, while successful lawyers and accountants are such grumpy buggers?

Apparently, it’s all to do with the nature of the task; teams who share positive emotions with one another do better at creative tasks, whereas a shared filthy temper enhances analytical skills.

Annefloor Klep of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) says that her results show that managers who want their team to perform better should let employees moan and whinge.

That way, she says, they’ll “solve complicated problems better, share more information with each other and have greater solidarity”.

Klep showed test subjects either cheerful or sad films, and looked afterwards at how her little team worked together on creative or analytical tasks.

Groups who were shown sad films and talked about how miserable they felt before they started their task performed difficult decision-making tasks the best – better than groups who had seen a sad movie but hadn’t been allowed to discuss it.

Sharing your emotions is particularly successful, apparently, if you think you’re in conflict with your colleagues. Giving certain groups the idea that there was a problem with their relationship and then letting them hurl abuse at each other apparently made for a really successful team.

Funny how that never seems to work with The Apprentice, but there you go.