Emotional Intelligence – Its Importance in the Workplace and Strategies for Improvement
Every organization is “in business” to achieve its goals. These goals differ depending on the private, public, or non-profit nature of the organization, and success in achieving the goals is influenced by both external and internal factors. The biggest factor over which the organization has control is the performance of its employees – and there are historical and recent, more effective, ways to influence performance.
My dad built Buicks, working on the assembly line for General Motors. For 45 years he arrived at work at 6:00 a.m. and worked until 2:00 p.m. installing windshield washers, door panels, steering wheels, and hood latches. His performance was evaluated by whether he could keep up with the ever-moving assembly line, and the union made sure that the line moved at a manageable rate. In return for his work, he received a good wage, excellent medical benefits, a pension, and college tuition for his children. In his retirement years, he had recurring dreams about the line speeding up and not being able to install his parts fast enough.
Today, employees are expected to do more than the minimum, technical requirements of their job, particularly if they are in a position of leadership. They are expected to engage with and inspire others, to make good decisions, to manage stress and conflict (for themselves and others), to delegate effectively, etc. Despite this, the “transactional,” factory-based approach to performance management is still commonly applied: if you do your work, you will get paid. In this transactional system, leaders who are technically skilled in their work are rewarded equally, even if they are not equally skilled or successful in the non-technical aspects (i.e., interpersonal relationships, decision-making, etc.). So, what is the difference between the truly successful leader and one who is just technically competent? Emotional intelligence, and if you're concerned about the bottom line, this is a topic you should be familiar with.
For more background on Emotional intelligence, here is an article about its importance in leadership: http://hbr.org/2004/01/what-makes-a-leader/ar/1
At this point, you may be thinking about someone you work with, supervise, work for (or even yourself) and thinking, "Uh oh" because you know that this person does not have the emotional intelligence skills necessary and is struggling, or worse causing significant issues that derail their own or others' work, as a result. Well, the good news is, emotional intelligence can be improved. Here is some additional information about the potential for improvement, and some approaches and considerations: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/05/can_you_really_improve_your_em.html
If this sounds like something that would be beneficial in your organization, but also like an undertaking that you, your team, or your organization do not have the resources to address successfully, consider getting some outside help. Read on to get an idea for what a process like this might look like and to see what we would do if we had the opportunity.
Our process for making emotional intelligence a well-understood and well-used concept:
We administer a measure of emotional intelligence - to get a baseline, and to give some context to the discussion. Folks are generally more receptive if they have an idea of how something affects them personally, and having a report about their own level of skill is one way to achieve that. Our assessments can be administered remotely to people all over the country (and beyond) to groups as small as 1 or as large as an entire organization. We offer options for graphical representations of the data (for individuals, or in aggregate for teams, departments, etc.) in addition to what is offered by the assessment publishers to ensure that the data is applicable and easy-to-understand.
We provide the results and facilitate an in-depth discussion about what the assessment measured, what the results mean, and the implications for the workplace. We get our clients involved in the interpretation process because, as with all psychological inventories (as distinct from tests), there are no "right" answers. They are the experts on the context in which they operate on a daily basis, which plays an enormous role in whether their particular level and style of emotional intelligence will help them be successful or not. So, this is more of a workshop than a "presentation of results."
Then, we help our clients turn this information into actionable goals and plans that can help them emphasize the strengths and improve the areas that they deem most important.
We enjoy helping our clients understand themselves and others on their teams better through the topic of emotional intelligence. If you think your team or organization could benefit from a workshop like this, please contact us!
Hopefully, this post has shed some light on the importance of emotional intelligence and some strategies for improvement. Thank you for reading, and we'll see you next month!