Emotionally Charged

For years how people felt about themselves and work was often denigrated by the ultimate back-handed compliment as the ‘soft side’ of human resources. In fact at recent forum of human resource managers the view was expressed that they would never use the words emotional intelligence in their workplaces.
Like everything that falls into the ‘soft’ category it was the victim of the one thing that HR practitioners are historically very bad at – reliable metrics that prove value in tangible terms, namely the bottom line.
There is now however growing amount of research providing strong case for the contribution EI – Emotional Intelligence – makes to the bottom line.
The US Air Force knocked cool US$3 million off its annual human resources costs by hiring recruiters who scored highly in the EI competencies of assertiveness, empathy, happiness and self-awareness.
One study of experienced partners in multinational consulting firm found those that scored above the median on EI competencies delivered 139 percent better from their accounts than other partners, in this case US$1.2 million per account.
Another study found that in successful companies, 74 percent had an executive who was high in emotional intelligence. Of the companies that failed, 76 percent were led by executives without high emotional intelligence.
When you look at the attributes covered in EI it’s easy to see why they are common amongst successful executives. They include self-confidence, optimism, influence, innovation, achievement, drive and leadership. Interestingly, these are skills that can be learnt and not aspects of personality.
Another reason why the whole subject is growing in credibility and popularity is that these same attributes are also common to high performers outside the senior management team.
An insurance company found new salesmen who scored high on ‘learned optimism’ sold 37 percent more insurance in their first two years than pessimists.
A manufacturing plant that trained supervisors in emotional competencies such as listening and helping employees solve their own problems saw lost time accidents halved, personal grievances reduced and productivity goals surpassed.
What is interesting is that when the difference between high and average performers is analysed, one-third is due to technical skills and cognitive ability – two thirds is due to emotional competence.
What this work over the past 10 years has shown is that organisational culture – the values and behaviours of employees – has as much to do with an organisation’s success as its products, R&D, technical competencies and even its market share. It’s the ‘how’ of what gets done, the manner or style in which things are done, rather than the things themselves.
What we are also starting to understand is the importance of working on the ‘what’ as well as the ‘how’. Improving culture without dealing with the strategy, goals and objectives may make the organisation great place to work but it may not ensure the organisation will stick around for the long run. parallel is working on someone’s emotional intelligence without also improving their business smarts.
Organisations that don’t get the strategy and actions right won’t get anywhere. Paradoxically, focusing on these alone risks stagnation and entrenched bureaucracies.
The trick is combining the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. At the organisational level, it is about working on the strategy as well as the culture. At the level of the leader who will drive and make this happen, it is about developing business as well as emotional intelligence.
Daniel Goleman (the author of several works on emotional intelligence) found an alarming number of CEOs suffer from what he terms “CEO disease” – it’s not that they don’t care how they are perceived, they do. Goleman says they suffer because they think they can decipher this information themselves. They think that if they are having negative effect, someone will tell them. He says they are wrong.
CEOs often know they are not quite getting the whole picture. Senior managers don’t quite lie, but maybe don’t tell the whole truth. The question is how to fill in the gaps – this is where mentor can help.
A CEO can discuss things with mentor that would not be appropriate with colleague or peer. mentor should also have their own library of experience and track record of achievement, not just theory.
Business intelligence is the experience to interpret and manage technical information and deliver organisational objectives. For most of us that requires falling on our faces periodically in the interest of developing intelligence. If we’re lucky we can learn from the mistakes of others as well as our own.

Melissa Clark-Reynolds is principal of the organisational performance consultancy The Empower Group.

Visited 3 times, 1 visit(s) today
Close Search Window