Possessing strong emotional intelligence (EI) skills increases our ability to make sound decisions, build and sustain positive relationships, and handle stress. It also improves our capacity to embrace and cope with change, according to the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. While these benefits directly affect our personal lives, there’s no doubt they also impact our contributions in the workplace.
Focusing on EI skill development for employees has been shown to increase revenue generation, enhance market share and lower turnover. Employees who possess strong EI are better able to deal with stressors in the workplace, manage change in their teams and work demands, and build trusting relationships with their colleagues.
If leveraging our uniquely human skills is more important now than ever for organizational growth and success, as leaders where do we start? The first step is to create an organizational culture that values EI skill building and professional development, as well as continuous development of these skills in the workplace.
Here are four simple ways to make EI skill development part of your workplace culture:
1. Practice 360-degree feedback
Listening to the lived experiences and receiving and implementing feedback from different team members—managers, peers and others—is key to the 360-degree feedback method. Having this type of open dialogue also demonstrates a strong level of EI.
It’s important for an organization’s leadership to continually encourage open feedback from everyone in the company—from management to junior-level employees—and provide training on how to use the feedback for positive change. A consistent cycle like this can offer valuable learning experiences for your team and play a crucial role in helping employees further develop their EI skills.
2. Add EI skills to existing leadership learning and development initiatives
As psychologist Daniel Goleman once stated, “If you are tuned out of your own emotions, you will be poor at reading them in other people.” Leaders who possess strong EI skills have the ability to self-analyze what motivates them, what triggers they need to avoid and what work conditions will set them up for success. They’re also more aware of these things in other people, including their individual team members.
The reality is that people leaders with strong EI skills are often more effective than those without. Being an empathetic leader can make it easier for employees to open-up and be vulnerable—it establishes trust.
Enable leaders to take part in professional development that help them develop EI skills. There are so many options available—everything from workshops and courses, team building activities, employee book clubs, microlearning courses, discussion groups and so on.
3. Utilize EI as an evaluation metric
Finding the right balance between encouraging your team to push the envelope and celebrating their successes can be a challenge. That’s where creating clear goals and setting key performance indicators in specific areas such as EI skills can help. With these objectives in mind, employees can develop their own intrinsic motivation to work towards achieving a strong proficiency with these skills.
Putting a focus on developing strong EI skills can also help employees feel that their personal experience at work is highly valued. It’s not just about what they produce in their role; it’s also about the relationships they build with their colleagues and managers.
4. Evaluate EI in the recruitment process
In the past, hiring decisions have primarily been made based on a person’s résumé statistics—previous employment, the academic institution they attended, and hard skills such as computer science, bookkeeping or graphic design. It was rare that recruiters took EI into consideration.
With the challenges of the pandemic and today’s need to continually adapt, employers should look to hire people with highly developed EI skills as they can better handle change in their environments. By evaluating and prioritizing EI skills in the hiring process, it will ensure the candidates being invested in will contribute to long term organizational growth.
To develop your team’s EI skills, it’s important to meet them where they are. Each employee will have a different starting point to work from and each will develop the skills at their own pace. Building EI skill development into your learning programs will help accelerate the growth of these important human skills and lead to a stronger workplace culture.
Interested in simplifying how employees access professional development and build the skills that your company needs? Check out D2L Wave. As a free-to-use upskilling education platform, employers only pay for the courses their employees take. D2L Wave streamlines how employees search, request, register and pay for professional development activities.