Despite decades of research and discussion about emotional intelligence, we have yet to settle the debate about how awareness of one’s emotions impacts the way we “show up” and perform in the workplace. Part of the challenge is determining causal links rather than meaningless correlations between emotional intelligence levels and team performance – soft measures and hard outcomes. The question persists because if leaders and workplaces have low emotional intelligence, what impact does that have in the workplace?
Using Data to Understand Feelings
When our clients engage us in strategic planning projects, one of the early activities we undertake is a CORE Strategy survey, so we can gauge employee perceptions about the level of emotional intelligence in the workplace. We believe the data helps bridge the link between soft measurements and hard outcomes by rating engagement drivers on a scale of 1 – 10. The examples below are some of those statements. The first numbers in brackets represent the average of all participants who have submitted responses to our survey, and the second set of numbers in the brackets represent the best-in-class employer scores:
- My immediate supervisor provides regular one on one counseling to help me to develop. (6.87 / 8.25)
- The organization gives employees support and guidance (rather than blaming) when things go wrong. (6.86 / 9.25)
- Any areas of potential conflict or disagreement are resolved and dealt with quickly. (7.08 / 8.63)
- During team discussions and decision-making, everyone on the team feels safe in offering their point of view. (7.59 / 9.25)
- I feel that I am appropriately recognized for my contribution. (6.76 / 8.60)
- Others listen to me. My thoughts are valued and considered. (7.30 / 9.25)
- I have a voice regarding the direction of the company. (5.75 / 8.63)
Opportunities to Strengthen Emotional Intelligence and Team Performance
We use this survey as a starting point to identify areas of strength because it also uncovers chinks in the organization’s armour. Quite often, opinions in these “soft” areas, such as “my leader doesn’t care enough about me”
Often, leaders focus on underperforming employees because they behave like they are unmotivated and not sufficiently nurtured by the organization. Leadership development, communication, as well as leader and employee coaching should be central strategies because attention to improving organizational emotional intelligence can improve results.
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