Emotional Intelligence: It’s a Must-Have for Team Success

Emotional Intelligence: It’s a Must-Have for Team Success

“Take a look.”

The leader of an academic and technical group pointed Connect the Dots Managing Director, Brenda Hampel, to the work area of team members who had just participated in a session with her on emotional intelligence.

What she saw: small groups of team members talking together over and around their cubicles.

“This only happens after one of your sessions,” the team leader told Brenda. “Typically, they are all working independently, using IM to communicate, not talking with one another. 

“This is great!”

Emotional Intelligence: A Must-Have Set of Skills

For employees today, and from this recent example, it’s not enough to work well independently. Everyone also needs to be able to work well as part of a team, and to get along so that creativity and efficiency can thrive.  Over the past two decades, the time we spend in collaborative activities has increased by 50% or more (Cross, Rebele and Grant [2016]).

Emotional intelligence (often referred to as EI, EQ-i or EIQ) is a critical component of “getting along” and being a great teammate. EQ-i, as we will refer to it here, is defined as a set of emotional and social skills that influences the way we perceive and express ourselves, develop and maintain relationships, manage challenges and generally, how we “show up” to others.

A few years back, the World Economic Forum predicted that by 2020, “Emotional intelligence will be one of the ‘top 10 must-have skills.”  Now that we are here, it is truer than ever!

EQ-i is directly tied to career and business success:

  • 90% of top performers have high EQ-i
  • 58 percent of a worker’s job performance is based on EQ-i
  • Professionals with high EQi earn 29 percent more than those with low EQ-i

Improving Emotional Intelligence

Even though we know that EQ-i is so critical to performance and success, many people are not addressing their gaps. 

Why? Day-to-day priorities and deadlines get in the way, plus managers might not always recognize or know how to address EQ-i problems. Whatever the reason for them, EQ-i issues lead to dysfunction that often is accepted as “the way things are,” and ultimately getting in the way of stronger teams and better results.

Improving work teams’ emotional intelligence is possible—it’s a matter of teaching team members new skills and having them be aware of and adapting their behaviors. Improvement, however, won’t happen unless it’s a priority. Communicating that it’s a priority is one reason why employers bring in consultants like Connect the Dots to help. Other reasons include wanting professionals with experience helping teams improve their overall emotional intelligence and having unbiased experts conducting assessments.

Now let’s look at some of the key steps for improving work teams’ emotional intelligence. 

1) Determine the current state. 

The first step to reach a destination is to know your starting point. In the case of improving a team’s EQ-i, you need to identify the key areas of improvement. Each team member completes an EQ-i assessment and debriefs the combined results. This gives members more awareness of the team culture and of how they interact with one another. It also gives them a better understanding of why the team dynamics are the way they are and helps them see the need for improvements.

2) Provide situational examples. 

Telling people “you need to be more emotionally intelligent” doesn’t do them much good. Identifying better practices for specific scenarios helps people see how they can improve those scenarios, but also makes them open to the idea that there are other interpersonal situations they could also handle better.

Ask a question like: “How do we handle it if a team member is not pulling his weight on a project?” or “How do we get what we need from a client who isn’t communicating?”

Then discuss by using the following talking points:

  • What are the “consequences” of not addressing this issue?
  • How do you expect it to change if you don’t address it?
  • What do you know about the person that will be helpful in bringing up the issue? 

Thinking through what’s important to the team member or client, how they prefer to communicate and presenting the issue to them in a way that “meets him or her where they are” demonstrates your EQ-i and is much more likely to have a positive outcome.

3) Show why EQ-i is key to team success. 

People are far more likely to be committed to making positive changes if they see the changes as directly affecting their success. It’s critical to get team members to switch improving EQ-i from a “should do” to a “must do.”

An effective exercise to show the impact of EQ-i on the team is to review the team’s top priorities for the year. For each objective, outline why emotional intelligence plays an important role in achieving it, as well as how to apply EQ-i strategies to it.

The exercise helps team members determine how to improve their EQ-i using specific business goals, which can effectively inspire changes in their interactions, including talking together over and around their cubicles, instead of relying on instant messaging!

Interested in seeing how we can help you improve your organization’s emotional intelligence? Contact us at info@connectthedotsconsulting.com.

(Update from earlier blog post)