Emotional intelligence isn’t as vague a concept as its name implies, and it can and should be taught through workplace training.
When considering which subjects to feature in employee education and training programs, emotional intelligence may not be high on your priority list. After all, the term “emotional intelligence” is vague. Furthermore, the communication abilities that are considered part of emotional intelligence are sometimes assumed to be innate characteristics. Either people have the naturally ability to deal with others or they don’t, or so the thinking goes.
With that said, overlooking emotional intelligence training may be a critical mistake. The soft skills associated with communication, interaction and teamwork can indeed be taught as part of a training program, and employees who have had these lessons may use what they’ve learned to excel in their roles.
From top management to front-line customer service personnel and everyone in between, there is value and worth in helping employees deal with interpersonal interactions. An emotionally intelligent workforce can cope with issues that might disrupt or destabilize a less prepared group.
The Value of Emotional Intelligence
One of the most immediately and evidently valuable elements of developing emotional intelligence in employees is the positive effect on these workers’ leadership abilities. Individuals who are called on to lead a team, take charge of a project or act as the head of a department may thrive in that role if they have developed emotional intelligence skills.
A Useful Set of Skills
According to diversity and inclusion strategist and Forbes contributor Janice Gassam, building interpersonal skills is a great way to create the future leaders of a more supportive and effective workplace. She pointed to emotional regulation, listening and empathy as key pillars of emotional intelligence. Training should help workers master these practices, teaching them to manage their stress levels, take in information from others and react thoughtfully to the emotional states of their colleagues.
Gassam added that the first step in implementing emotional intelligence training involves testing and measuring the levels of the corresponding attitudes and behaviors that already exist in the workplace. Performing these assessments before starting the employee education program gives the company a baseline to work from, so leaders can tell when they’re making progress. If you measure your organization’s emotional intelligence now, you may be impressed at how the corresponding measures increase once the sessions begin.
A Predictor of Success
Corporate Wellness Magazine indicated the dollars-and-cents value of emotional intelligence in corporate environments, pointing out the case of an unnamed Fortune 500 company that enabled high annual profit increases and staff retention boosts once it changed its hiring strategy to focus on emotional intelligence. The resulting work environment encouraged employees to engage fully with their work and network closely with one another. This led to more workers serving for longer, and a corresponding spike in sales as these experienced and committed team members reached out to clients.
In addition to advantages with retention and customer interactions, emotional intelligence is simply a boon to internal productivity. Corporate Wellness Magazine called these interpersonal abilities the greatest predictor of organizational success. Getting work completed and steering projects across the finish line are at least somewhat dependent on the emotional strength of the team members. Therefore, even jobs that are very technical and straightforward benefit from employees with well-developed soft skills.
When possible, companies should hire with emotional sophistication and potential for teamwork in mind. As with any skill, however, there will be times when great candidates need more work to become truly emotionally intelligent employees. In these cases, a focused training program is the way to help employees step up their contributions to the business.
Training Your Employees in Emotional Intelligence
Inspecting some of the courses designed to impart soft skills can bring the potentially abstract idea of emotional intelligence into sharper focus. These training modules have been created with the same rigor shown to more technical proficiencies. With multiple lesson programs and interactive assessments, today’s video-based online courses can help employees pick up concepts such as self-awareness and interpersonal relationship management.
Some courses deal directly with the emotional intelligence scale known as EQ, developed in 1990 by psychologists John Mayer and Peter Salovey. The concept was introduced into the business lexicon because the classic idea of intelligence quotient was proven insufficient in terms of determining who would make an exceptional employee.
The strategies contained in emotional intelligence courses can help trainees be more considerate of both their own feelings and those of their coworkers. A simple idea such as logging and noting emotional responses to events in the workday may impart a new way of looking at interactions and encourage greater productivity and more accomplished teamwork. Sometimes the most effective way to show emotional intelligence is to resist an initial emotionally driven reaction and practice consideration.
When considering which subjects your employees should learn in the year ahead, you should consider soft skills in general and emotional intelligence in particular. Across industries, productivity, retention and the general quality of your working environment could improve with better EQ.