By Dr Karina de Bruin – When going to work, one does not necessarily consider the emotional aspect of it, which in reality plays a significant role in your productivity and success. We are, after all, emotionally-driven creatures, whether we want to be or not.
This is where the term emotional intelligence comes in. It’s the ability to recognise specific emotions in oneself and others, acknowledge their effect on one’s goals and relationships, and either minimise negative effects or actively elicit emotions more appropriate to the situation.
With emotional intelligence as a tool in hand, you can find much more effective ways of dealing with challenges at work and get your work done as efficiently as possible.
There is a lot that companies can do to foster emotional intelligence (or EQ as called by its metric) among employees, one of which is to make it part of their corporate culture.
When companies make the language of emotional intelligence part of the everyday work experience, they create an environment in which employees naturally embrace and start living the concept.
This can lead to lasting results and a bigger payoff in increased productivity.
Internationally, and locally, emotional intelligence has gained popularity in business over the last few decades.
Research conducted by the JvR Africa Group has shown that, when comparing professionals in South Africa to their US counterparts, the South Africans generally report higher levels of EQ on most of the sub-components of the EQi2.0, which is internationally widely used to assess emotional intelligence. However, these differences are relatively small and not really meaningful.
But what is it that increased EQ can do for a company?
Success on employee and business level hinges on effective personal performance and favourable relationships with customers, suppliers, colleagues, subordinates and stakeholders. There are many examples where Emotional Intelligence can have a positive effect, but warns that it must be considered in conjunction with factors like motivation, education and experience.
Many companies already use psychological assessments in their recruitment and selection process. To obtain a more comprehensive picture, the assessment of Emotional Intelligence should be included, as it can distinguish between an employee who only just copes and one who excels. Such assessments also ensure that high EQ employees are hired from the start, reducing the cost of development interventions later.
Productivity usually suffers when employees face aspects of their work they don’t enjoy or people with whom they disagree. Emotional Intelligence provides the tools they need to become more productive, cope better with work stress, resolve differences and work effectively in teams.
A high EQ is therefore vital for executive positions, where good stress management, excellent problem-solving and sound decision-making are expected. By nature, leaders often seek to enhance their performance, and exposure to Emotional Intelligence development opportunities can help them achieve their goals in a sustainable way.
Emotional Intelligence relates to a broad spectrum of soft skills so companies should first establish where improvements are required. Professionally administered self-report assessments, completed by employees, will highlight areas of concern and provide a guide for coaching and/or skills development. With this self-information, employers can plot the best course for EQ improvements in their workforce.
Emotional Intelligence can then be increased through appropriate employee development that focuses on practical capabilities that deliver immediate results. Programmes can be customised to address the specific competencies required. They are typically offered as workshops stretching over one or more days and delivered as face-to-face sessions with an experienced facilitator.
Ultimately, if companies can truly appreciate the fact that their employees are emotional beings, they can find effective ways of managing this aspect so that it can be the x-factor that sets the organisation apart from its competition, instead of hampering its growth and success.
Dr Karina de Bruin is the MD of JvR Academy