First coined by scholars in the 1990s, the term ’emotional intelligence’ has infiltrated the workforce and greatly increased our understanding of how best to manage business relationships for the success of the company. Whether you are in HR, top-tier company management, or a business owner, having emotional intelligence, knowing how to develop it, and how to encourage it in others will help you develop your middle management team. This will provide a positive and encouraging trickle-down effect that will boost the productivity and workplace satisfaction in your entire organization.
Not convinced? The following is a quick look into the basics of emotional intelligence and how you can harness it to improve your team.
Emotional Intelligence 101
Despite the inclusion of the word ‘intelligence’, emotional intelligence is distinctly different from and has no known connection to a person’s IQ. Emotional intelligence (EI or EQ) is defined as a person’s capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions. The term encompasses that person’s ability to handle and manage interpersonal relationships both empathetically and judiciously. Where intelligence, defined as a person’s ability to learn, largely remains the same throughout a person’s life, emotional intelligence is more flexible and can be developed and improved with practice.
Even more importantly, emotional intelligence appears to have a significant impact on performance. The coauthors of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 ran a workplace study in which they discovered an impressive 90% of top performers scored high in emotional intelligence. In contrast, just 20% of bottom performers ranked high in emotional intelligence. The authors additionally found that those people with high degrees of emotional intelligence made an average of $29,000 more per annum than those who had low scores.
Developing Emotional Intelligence
The emotional intelligence you have at age 15 does not have to be the same as that you have at age 35, 45, or even 75. Of course, developing and maturing emotional intelligence is not always easy. Changing long-standing habits of human interaction is hard and near-impossible if a person does not want to actively change them. However, with the incentives of higher productivity and financial success — not to mention better work-life relationships — it is possible to influence employees and encourage them to take the necessary steps. This is especially important for middle management in which there is a strong need to know how emotions and behaviors impact the employees, clients, vendors, and other people around them.
For middle management, consider implementing the following advice and ideas on strengthening and developing individual emotional intelligence during everyday interactions:
1. Exercise deep and focused listening. Have middle management personnel rethink their communications with other employees. Encourage the asking of clarifying questions as both a means for better understanding and a sign that they are listening.
2. Encourage questions that identify emotions and feelings. Encourage your middle management team to stray beyond inquiring after only work-specific matters. Have them routinely ask team members how they feel about information and tasks, and their emotions on how a project is progressing. Most employees will be happy and willing to disclose opinions when management indicates strong interest. As such, this improves communication between middle management and employees while likewise helping develop emotional intelligence via engaged listening.
3. Work on noticing body language and other nonverbal communication. Have your middle management participate in a training in which a professional discusses how to recognize when body language is inconsistent with verbal communication. Understanding nonverbal communication will help develop emotional intelligence and enhance workforce communication and collaboration.