We have been told we are on statutory lockdown for just few days. I am sure more guide lines even to that will be released soon. Many people breathed a sigh of relief. I wonder if this is not the beginning of voluntary shut down instead. We are going to have to be very circumspect, deciphering non-verbal communication among many other things. In this period our compassion grew and is still growing. This is why I believe before we all get back to work, we all should be increasing our emotional intelligence levels. Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to someone’s ability to perceive, understand and manage their own feelings and emotions” (Chignell, 2018).
The experts say, there are five distinct components of EI, Self-awareness. Self-regulation, Internal (or intrinsic) motivation, Empathy and Social skills.
EI may seem like a new buzz word in the work place but it has been around since the 1980s-90s. Interest in it has grown exponentially since then-especially in its application in the workplace. Daniel Goleman in the USA is an expert in EI and he said in 2012 that, “The interest in emotional intelligence in the workplace stems from the widespread recognition that these abilities – self-awareness, self-management, empathy and social skill – separate the most successful workers and leaders from the average. This is especially true in roles like the professions and higher- level executives, where everyone is about as smart as everyone else, and how people manage themselves and their relationships gives the best and edge”
A lot of research conducted in both the western world and in Africa points to two main reasons why EI is a vital consideration in the workplace. There is apparently higher job satisfaction for those with high EI as well as employees who work with or are managed by those with high EI. EI is also associated with job performance.
Another EI expert Bailey, in 2015 identified how EI leads to high performance. I am sure that as you go down the list, you will agree. This again is research based. He said, increased job performance when there is EI, is as a result of emotional stability, a greater ability for the worker to manage their own emotions and tolerate stress. Also, conscientiousness, the tendency to be diligent, hardworking, control impulses is also an EI by product.
Extraversion, the personality trait that makes people more open and better at establishing relationships with others is another. Another EI trait that leads to high performance is something called, ability EI, this is the individuals’ ability to perform emotion-related behaviour, like expressing emotions, empathizing with others, and combining emotion with reasoning.
Cognitive ability, IQ; studies suggest there is at least some overlap between the IQ and EI. General self-efficacy, confidence in the ability to cope with the demands of the job and Self-rated job performance were his findings.
Below are some examples of EI in the work place. We know that high EI/EQ in the workplace is an advantage, but how do we know it when we see it? What does it look like? An upset employee finds a compassionate ear. People listen to each other in meetings. People feel free to express themselves openly and be creative. Where EI is practised most change initiatives work. There is flexibility. (I keep using this word over and over again). People meet out of work time. If your people don’t form strong bonds in and out of the office, there is a high likelihood of your organisation being low in EI.
All the above clearly impacts the workplace but wait, there is more. EI translates to better control of our motivation, and perhaps even more motivation for team members. Those high in EI are able to more effectively understand and communicate with others, which makes it easier to develop and maintain a common team vision. Highly emotionally intelligent people can handle the stress, uncertainty, and anxiety that comes with working in business.
Clear communication is a sign of EI, and it contributes to better relationships, an easier time getting help from others, and more effective persuasion and influence of others Finally self-leadership, leading others, influencing others-all of these are vital for those in business.
There are some things that we must be careful about. Too much EI can encourage manipulation and other unethical or bad behaviour. If unscrupulous employees have extremely high EI, they may be tempted to use their emotional intelligence to manipulate, deceive, and take advantage of their team members, subordinates, and perhaps even their management. However, generally, having excess EI is not something anyone should be too concerned about. Too little EI is much more common.
The good news is that you can implement EI training in your organisation. We have talked about culture before and EI should be part of the culture you want to build. Like with any culture you try to introduce there are four phases. Preparation, training, transfer and evaluation
Phase One should be assessing your organisation’s needs. Assess the individual’s strengths and limitations. (please note, you don’t talk about weaknesses anymore. You call them limitations). The organisation should give feedback with care. Maximise learner choice by encouraging participation-not requiring it. Link learning goals to personal values, adjust expectations on both sides and gauge readiness. This can be done during appraisals.
Phase Two is the actual training. Since the training is to increase EI, you should aim to foster a positive relationship between the trainer and the learner. Let the employee set clear goals and maximise self-directed change.
Goals should always be broken into manageable steps and provide many opportunities to practise EI and give clear feedback often. The hands -on method is always advised. Use models of desirable behaviour and prevent relapse by preparing people for mental slips
Phase Three is all about maintaining the skills learned by Encouraging their use and ensuring the organisational culture supports the learning.
Finally, Phase Four is focused on evaluating the change that has come about from training again this can be done during appraisals.
Below are some tips made in 2018 from a lady called Kendra Cherry (another EI expert) on how to improve your own EI and also what to teach staff for an increase of EI. Become more self-aware. Pay attention to how you are feeling throughout your day and notice how your emotions contribute to your decisions and actions. Identify and understanding your emotional strengths and limitations. Understand the fleeting nature of emotions and that they can be easily changed.
Practice self-regulation. Find techniques that help you deal with your work-related stress, like hobbies, exercise, prayer, etc. Try to accept reality and keep a cool head when work gets stressful. Give yourself time to think and plan before making decisions-especially big decisions.
Improve your social skills. Listen actively and attentively to your managers and team members. Be aware of nonverbal communication. Work on or develop your persuasion and influencing skills. Watch out for gossip but step in to handle conflict when appropriate and necessary.
Become more empathetic. Put yourself in “their” shoes both at work and at home. Pay attention to your own responses to others. Work on your motivation. Focus on what you love about your job rather than what you hate about it. Try to maintain a positive, optimistic attitude.
As we begin to live the current realities, I hope we can improve on some things and jettison some of the not so good things that was the norm. have a good weekend.