This ‘mood elevator’ helps you understand exactly how miserable you are at work

When things get bad at work, it’s too easy to suffer in silence, not knowing how to put a name to what’s going on — or remember how things should be. But you need to use your words, or else you may never resolve those emotions.

One firm has created a tool to help you talk about what you’re feeling in a work crisis, and how to describe morale around you.  The Mood Elevator is “an awareness tool” that culture-shaping firm Senn Delaney under Heidrick & Struggles uses. We first learned about it from a recent SmartBrief post by Lead Change Group.

The bottom of the mood elevator will ring a bell for anyone who’s made it through a work crisis: “burned-out,” “impatient,” “hostile,” “depressed” or “worried.”

When things are going well, it’s a very different set of evocative words. The words “flexible,” “grateful,” “sense of humor,” “creative” and “understanding” were a handful of the terms at the top.

Can’t you breathe easier just reading those? Or, if you’re unhappy, don’t you feel inspired to strive towards them more? That’s the power of putting a name to your experiences. More than 100,000 people revealed the values in a survey, Lead Change Group said.

The researchers also came up with analysis of the elevator by putting together a list of things people on the happy levels do easily—a summation of eight “Essential Organizational Values,” which the most high-performing groups have. Among them: “collaboration/trust,” “ethics/integrity,” “positive spirit/vitality” and “direction/purpose” and “agility/innovation/growth.”

How to recognize them? Positive spirit is “creating an environment where there is teamwork, mutual support, and cooperation between and among people. Where people are fun to be around, proud of what they do, and willing to put in the effort that is beyond normal expectations.” Collaboration/trust is “creating frequent and open two-way communication with people, and maintaining openness and trust among people with high levels of feedback and coaching.”

Lead Change Group says those people and organizations who possess those qualities have a knack for operating on the higher levels of the elevator for a greater amount of time and find more success as a result. It is, in effect, a roadmap for how to have, or recognize, a good team.

Even more interestingly, Tolstoy could have been writing about the modern office when he wrote that “happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” All positive workplaces feel similar.

“Any group in a healthy place — higher on the Mood Elevator — tends to gravitate toward the same fundamental attitudes and behaviors,” the Lead Change Group noted.