You are on page 1of 10

Why emotional intelligence is important in the workplace

There is only one area which a business or any organisation needs to address if it wants to lift itself from averagely successful to excellent: emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence at work is about how people and relationships function: relationships between colleagues, between directors and staff; relationships between the organisation and its customers, stakeholders, suppliers, competitors, networking contacts, everyone. It is about leadership, teamwork, partnership and vision. Founded on excellent practice and understanding of communication, the emotionally intelligent business consistently excels in all these areas and has insight into how this happens. An organisation which is emotionally intelligent has staff who are: motivated, productive, efficient, aligned with the business, and committed; effective, confident, likeable, happy, and rewarded. Emotional intelligence is applicable to every human interaction in business: from staff motivation to customer service, from brainstorming to company presentations. But the subject is far deeper and wider than these examples, and emotional intelligence must be able to understand and deal with: how we assess people how relationships develop how our beliefs generate our experience as well as resistance, power struggles, judgment, competition, vision, leadership, success, and much more. Only in a business in which the staff are emotionally intelligent can they work together to maximum effectiveness. This can only increase the organisations success, however measured. Emotional intelligence is essential for excellence.

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace: Why It Matters More than Personality By Mike Poskey, ZERORISK HR, Inc. Emotional Intelligence Quotient, or EQ, is a term being used more and more within human resources departments and which is making its way into executive board rooms. This article will help shed some light on what EQ is, how it is different than personality, and how it has proven to impact the bottom line in the workplace. What is Emotional Intelligence? Emotional Intelligence Quotient is defined as a set of competencies demonstrating the ability one has to recognize his or her behaviors, moods, and impulses, and to manage them best according to the situation. Typically, "emotional intelligence" is considered to involve emotional empathy; attention to, and discrimination of one's emotions; accurate recognition of one's own and others' moods; mood management or control over emotions; response with appropriate (adaptive) emotions and behaviors in various life situations (especially to stress and difficult situations); and balancing of honest expression of emotions against courtesy, consideration, and respect (i.e., possession of good social skills and communication skills). Additional, though less often mentioned qualities include selection of work that is emotionally rewarding to avoid procrastination, self-doubt, and low achievement (i.e., good self-motivation and goal management) and a balance between work, home, and recreational life. In essence, EQ is the pattern of how people's biases in their thinking leads them to think one thing or choice is better than another, as well as their clarity in differentiating within those biases to exercise clear and sound judgment. "People see what they want to see." Red Barber How is EQ Different from Personality? In psychology, personality refers to the emotion, thought, and behavior patterns unique to an individual. Personality influences one's tendencies, such as a preference for introversion or extroversion. Like Intelligence Quotient (IQ), personality cannot be used to predict EQ. However, as EQ can identify both the biases and clarity in one's thinking patterns that allow them to make good sound decisions, personality only refers to the biases in the behaviors themselves. Personality tests typically only distinguish four categories of temperament but do not distinguish which melancholy person is actually high in ambition. For example,

business people know that they want an extrovert to fill the sales position, but they cannot tell from a temperament test which ones will be persistent from those who will be insistent. It is desirable for salespeople to have persistence, which allows them to have the energy, drive, and thick skin to develop and close new business. Less effective, however are insistent salespeople who 1) turn off prospective buyers because they are too pushy, and 2) cannot give up on a prospect who is not going to buy when they could be focusing their efforts on more promising opportunities. We know we want an extrovert, sensor, thinker, and judger (ESTJ) from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator for the vacant leadership role, but we cannot tell which ESTJ will make sound judgments under stress and which ones will maim everyone in his/her path when under stress. An employee with a "good" personality may be fun, social, energetic, and outgoing. However, having a "good" personality doesn't necessarily equate to success in the workplace. A "good" personality tells you nothing about the fact that the employee can also make errors in judgment due to lack of "clarity" when making decisions within their own biases. This is why people with varying personality styles can successfully perform the same job. It boils down to their ability to exercise clear and sound judgment in those situations their job/role presents on a regular basis. An employee with high emotional intelligence can manage his or her own impulses, communicate with others effectively, manage change well, solve problems, and use humor to build rapport in tense situations. These employees also have empathy, remain optimistic even in the face of adversity, and are gifted at educating and persuading in a sales situation and resolving customer complaints in a customer service role. This "clarity" in thinking and "composure" in stressful and chaotic situations is what separates top performers from weak performers in the workplace. As managers and business executives we have often asked ourselves the following questions: Why do certain employees get into accidents more often than others? Why do they violate company ethics and policies? Why do they ignore the rules of the organization? Why do they use illegal drugs while on the job? Why do some people cause conflict while others are so gifted at resolving it? Why do they put self-interest ahead of the organizational values? Why do some salespeople build large books of new business with ease while others struggle to do so even though they seem to be putting forth the required effort? In many cases the answer to the above questions lies in "emotional intelligence" rather than the individual's "personality type."

"Unmet emotional needs cause the majority of problems at work." EQ Competencies that Correlate to Workplace Success The following outlines a set of five emotional intelligence competencies that have proven to contribute more to workplace achievement than technical skills, cognitive ability, and standard personality traits combined. Social CompetenciesCompetencies that Determine How We Handle Relationships Intuition & Empathy. Our awareness of others' feelings, needs, and concerns. This competency is important in the workplace for the following reasons.

Understanding others: an intuitive sense of others' feelings and perspectives, and showing an active interest in their concerns and interests Customer service orientation: the ability to anticipate, recognize, and meet customers' needs People development: ability to sense what others need in order to grow, develop, and master their strengths Leveraging diversity: cultivating opportunities through diverse people

Political Acumen & Social Skills. Our adeptness at inducing desirable responses in others. This competency is important in the workplace for the following reasons.

Influencing: using effective tactics and techniques for persuasion and desired results Communication: sending clear and convincing messages that are understood by others Leadership: inspiring and guiding groups of people Change catalyst: initiating and/or managing change in the workplace Conflict resolution: negotiating and resolving disagreements with people Building bonds: nurturing instrumental relationships for business success Collaboration and cooperation: working with coworkers and business partners toward shared goals Team capabilities: creating group synergy in pursuing collective goals

Personal CompetenciesCompetencies that Determine How We Manage Ourselves Self Awareness. Knowing one's internal states, preferences, resources, and intuitions. This competency is important in the workplace for the following reasons.

Emotional awareness: recognizing one's emotions and their effects and impact on those around us Accurate self-assessment: knowing one's strengths and limits Self-confidence: sureness about one's self-worth and capabilities

Self Regulation. Managing one's internal states, impulses, and resources. This competency is important in the workplace for the following reasons.

Self-control: managing disruptive emotions and impulses Trustworthiness: maintaining standards of honesty and integrity Conscientiousness: taking responsibility and being accountable for personal performance Adaptability: flexibility in handling change Innovation: being comfortable with an openness to novel ideas, approaches, and new information

Self Expectations & Motivation. Emotional tendencies that guide or facilitate reaching goals. This competency is important in the workplace for the following reasons.

Achievement drive: striving to improve or meet a standard of excellence we impose on ourselves Commitment: aligning with the goals of the group or organization Initiative: readiness to act on opportunities without having to be told Optimism: persistence in pursuing goals despite obstacles and setbacks

Emotional Intelligence's Impact on the Bottom Line To date, many companies have focused their selection criteria and training programs on hard skills (e.g., technical expertise, industry knowledge, education)

and the assessment of personality traits. Topics including competencies like stress management, assertiveness skills, empathy, and political/social acumen were never measured in the selection process or focused on in training and development programs. In reality, these are critical success factors that should not be dismissed, and have a direct impact on the bottom line. For example, the Hay Group states one study of 44 Fortune 500 companies found that salespeople with high EQ produced twice the revenue of those with average or below average scores. In another study, technical programmers demonstrating the top 10 percent of emotional intelligence competency were developing software three times faster than those with lower competency. Additional research unearthed the following success stories. A Fortune 500 company in financial services proved that their high EQ salespeople produced 18 percent more than the lower EQ salespeople. One recent study conducted by a Dallas corporation measured that the productivity difference between their low scoring emotional intelligence employees and their high scoring emotional intelligence employees was 20 times. A Texas-based Fortune 500 Company had utilized personality assessments for candidate selection for years with little results in reducing turnover in their high turnover sales force. After turning to an emotional intelligence-based selection assessment and EQ training and development program, they increased retention by 67 percent in the first year, which they calculated added $32 million to their bottom line in reduced turnover costs and increased sales revenues. A large metropolitan hospital reduced their critical care nursing turnover from 65 percent to 15 percent within 18 months of implementing an emotional intelligence screening assessment. A community bank that reduced staff by 30 percent due to the sluggish economy assessed the remaining workforce for their emotional intelligence competencies, placed them in the right role for those competencies, and the bank is now producing more with less people. Lastly, through a series of recent studies conducted by ZERORISK HR, Inc., a correlation was found among low emotional intelligence and theft and shrinkage. One other study in the construction industry yielded results showing workers with low emotional intelligence had a higher likelihood of getting injured while on the job. All of these cases are starting to prove the value of having highly emotionally intelligent employees make up your workforce if you want a competitive advantage in this highly competitive business world.

Emotional Intelligence at the Workplace Emotional Intelligence (EI) has been recently validated with about 25 major skill areas that can influence your career and create abilities that improve your worth at work. These EI skills are not readily measured on standard intelligence or expertise tests. In fact, EI is quite different from IQ. People with emotional intelligence have tremendous advantages that far outweigh highly intelligent people who may be moody, premadonnas or have temper tantrum ms. These "emotional intelligence" skills can count for far more when it comes to being a "star performer" or excelling at just about any job. To be outstanding, these EI skills are nearly everything for reaching success and the top of any career ladder. In the USA Today article, "Working Smart," author Dr. Daniel Goleman stresses that emotional intelligence is not just being "nice" or giving free rein to feelings so that it "all hangs out." Instead, successful people use their EI to manage feelings both appropriately and effectively so that the common good and goals of the work group can be readily achieved. Each person has a profile of emotional strong and weak point areas. For example, a generality and on the average statement can be made that women are more aware of their emotions, are empathetic and are adept interpersonally. On the average, men appear more selfconfident, optimistic, adapt easily, and handle stress better. Goleman reports that there are far more similarities than differences between women and men and there are five major categories with five components each that complete the EI profile. To know your emotional intelligence you need to understand these 25 abilities that matter the most. The five major categories include: Self-Awareness, Self Regulation, Motivation, Empathy, and Social Skills. There are only about two dozen emotional intelligence skills that affect all aspects of work. Some of them are: accurate self-assessment, self-confidence, self-control, conscientiousness, adaptability, innovation, commitment, initiative, political awareness, optimism, understanding others, conflict management skills, team capabilities, communication, and the ability to initiate or manage change. The article cites examples of how important EI is to industry leaders, flight attendants, physicians, managers, and computer programmers. It appears to be especially important for computer programmers who can make a competitive difference with emotional intelligence abilities that help a person to collaborate, (not compete against the team), stay late to help the team members, and share shortcuts to achieving answers. The output of the surveyed top programmers in the USA showed a 1,272 percent more than the average production return. EI affects output. The good news for everyone is that unlike IQ which does not change much after our teen years, the level of our emotional intelligence can continue to grow, develop and change as it

is largely a learned area of expertise. Goleman calls this growth by its oldfashioned word: "maturity." TALKING IT OVER AND THINKING IT THROUGH! 1.Goleman offers twelve questions to ask yourself to see if you work with emotional intelligence. If you answer "yes" to half or more, (and if other people who know you agree with your self-rating) then you are doing okay with your EI. See where you score on these items taken from his emotional intelligence chart. Do you - can you - are you:understand both your strengths and weaknesses? be depended on to take care of every detail? Do you hate to let things slide? comfortable with change and open to novel ideas? motivated by the satisfaction of meeting your own standards of excellence? stay optimistic when things go wrong? see things from another person's point of view and sense what matters most to that person? let customers' needs determine how you serve them? enjoy helping co-workers develop their skills? read office politics accurately? able to find "win-win" solutions in negotiations and conflicts? the kind of person other people want on a team? Do you enjoy collaborating with others? usually persuasive? Add up the number of questions to which you could answer yes. How did you score? Answering yes to six or more of the EI skill items indicates that you are working well and with maturity in the workplace. Do you have more than five questions to which you answered no? Do people who know you well agree with your high number of negative scores? If so, what can you do to change and improve your emotional score? 2.In businesses and workplaces of every kind, a great deal of time has to be spent in meetings. To be effective and productive, these meetings must be carefully planned, skillfully led, and the emotional intelligence of the participants can affect the outcome. What are some things that you need to do as the moderator of the meeting to get all participants to share information and contribute to good decision-making? Remember that the key can be understanding others, political awareness of the emotional

currents and power relationships, leveraging diversity, developing others and bolstering their abilities as suggested by Goleman. 3.Another area in which empathy has a play is being a good listener. If you know your emotional intelligence "quotient" needs improvement in your listening ability and that you need to improve your listening habits, what are some of the things you can do to become a "mature" EI listener? What distinguishes good listeners from the bad ones that you may know or have to deal with each day at work? THINKING ABOUT THE FUTURE! In the future, employers are going to require emotional intelligence from their workers, especially as these skills become more critical in a global, diverse workplace. Employees will have to participate in team building and use collaborative, emotional intelligence skills that enhance working on shared goals. To get you started in a new emotional intelligence direction, the key is to change what may be just a bad habit. There are proven techniques that really work to modify behavior, which ultimately can change the outcome of your future at both work and home. In "Change Your Bad Habits to Good," the author studied more than 2000 years of self-change concepts and came up with three especially good methods to successfully effect change. "People who have successfully changed their eating habits or career paths often relied on these methods," states Dr. Robert Epstein, United States International University at San Diego professor. Epstein calls them the "Three M's. Briefly, they are: Modify your environment, Monitor your behavior, and Make commitments. People, who change their self, change their world, or "stimulus environment." If you become more aware of what you are doing wrong -let's say an annoying bad habit - and start self-monitoring yourself, you can start to perform positively. Just writing down on a piece of paper each time you

misbehave or mis-speak can make you focus on changing behavior. Another powerful aid to developing those EI skill areas that you may want to reinforce is to make a commitment to another person, who in turn, will put pressure on you when you don't comply with the area in need of improvement. The really happy news with emotional intelligence maturity building is that we can meet and master improvements in EI with skill techniques not just will power. DIGGING DEEPER! If you are intrigued by the idea that we can change and enhance our emotional intelligence and increase our capacity for job output, earnings, security, and sales, you might want to read Daniel Goleman's book entitled, Working With Emotional Intelligence. Workplace expertise is more than the ability to technically operate equipment, especially as we move toward a service industry economy. A new EI quotient inventory test has recently been validated and become available in the past few months. Researcher Reuven BarOn has discovered 15 factors that allow psychologists to measure EI. What is significant about his work is that it takes the guesswork out of trying to figure out what is going wrong when a person is unable to respond effectively to a problem. If you are interested in your ability to guide your emotional responses to those events that happen in your life so that you can act upon your emotions in an effective manner, you may want to take the BarOn Emotional Quotient Inventory Test. Dr. Tom Muha, director of psychology and co-director of The Counseling and Relationship Enhancement Center in Annapolis, MD, discussed in detail on October 1, 1998, the BarOn Inventory in his psychology column for The Capitol Online, a supplemental version of the paper published on the Internet.