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October 05th, 2010
Stuck. That’s the feeling that many co-workers have when they try to navigate conflict with someone who is operating with a low level of emotional intelligence in the workplace.
If you’ve ever tried to have a conversation with a colleague that ends in finger-wagging and raised voices, you’ve experienced the negative effects of low emotional intelligence firsthand.
Emotional intelligence is characterized by a person’s or group’s ability to constructively manage their emotions during interactions. (Read my blog post, “Emotional Intelligence – How does it impact the bottom line?” for an in-depth definition.)
Just how important is emotional intelligence in the workplace?
Psychologist Daniel Goleman surveyed 200 companies and found that emotional competence accounts for two-thirds of productivity differences among workers (“What Makes a Leader,” 1998).
People who demonstrate behaviours of high-level emotional intelligence are able to:
- Manage their emotions during highly volatile and high-risk situations.
- Quickly tap into their self-awareness to identify and manage those emotions with appropriate behaviours.
- Exhibit empathy for others and, with effective leadership assertiveness, demonstrate a competence in social skills which result in a positive outcome.
Consider this scenario:
Sarah, a great worker bee, has difficulty being accountable for her department’s task deadlines. In collaborative departmental and project-related meetings, she often flashes a sweet smile while blaming her teammates or clients for the lack of results on one of her direct reports.
Jason often states that Sarahʼs behaviour is unacceptable. Because Sarah is the team leader, he feels itʼs her responsibility to lead her direct reports to a successful outcome and notify all parties if the project goes off-course.
At this point during the meeting, Sarah usually explodes into a loud tirade of blaming statements and accusations and stomps out the door. Jason is left perplexed, trying to figure out what to do differently to get the project moving forward.
Meanwhile, Tanya remains sitting still in the meeting, saying nothing. Sheʼs tired of the “same old” behaviours from Sarah. Although she silently applauds Jasonʼs efforts, she knows that he doesnʼt have the ability to implement any consequences to Sarahʼs actions.
Interactions like these leave most co-workers feeling powerless and ready to give-up: “You’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.” So when peer interactions are being dominated by low-level emotional intelligence, don’t hesitate to involve your leader, manager or supervisor.
Here’s what the process would look like with Sarah and Jason:
- The leader is able to identify the “sticking points” in communication and project results that Sarah and Jason are encountering. Both Sarah and Jason have an opportunity to take accountability for the impact their ineffective communication has had on both the end result and the overall team dynamics.
- Once Sarah understands how her behaviour affects the team, she can be guided back to the basics. Her leader can develop a plan with task-specific expectations and subsequent consequences to not meeting those deadlines. The plan provides Sarah with both clear directives and corrective feedback.
- A similar yet less guided approach needs to be presented to Jason. He understood that their communication needed to change, but had no power or understanding of how to redirect Sarah. Acknowledging his frustrations and recognizing his struggle to work with Sarah is adequate.
Once team behaviours improve, the team relationships and project results will all improve too.
Ever bumped up against a co-worker with low level emotional intelligence? How did you handle it?
September 29th, 2009
“If I send you an email, do not acknowledge its receipt with a ‘thank-you’, ‘got it’ or ‘done’ response – don’t bother” said my new client, in our first face to face meeting. At first, her words seemed brash, but later made complete sense.
She, a VP at a global organization, continued “Recognize, I interact with a large volume of email each day. I will not respond to your emails unless, I don’t agree with the contents”
Not only had she clearly articulated her expectations and norms of working together, but she had taught me to not throw junk on her desk.
Email management has become a source of frustration and angst that contributes to team dysfunction and decreased results.
As business leaders, we can greatly improve team productivity by changing our consumption and production of action, information and junk related emails…and teaching our teams to do the same.
Consider all emails that flowed into your inbox within the last 24 hours.
- What percentage required your action?
- What percentage required that you stay informed? (eg. actions which you support)
- What percentage was junk? (not junk mail that would get stuck in the junk filter but junk-mail created by your colleagues)
Now consider all the emails you sent yesterday.
- What percentage requested action?
- What percentage outlined required supportive, informed, knowledge and/or resource based actions?
- What percentage of your sent emails were junk? (e.g. didn’t fall in #1 or #2. Be honest!).
Just as my new client broached the topic with me. I encourage you to do the same with your teams, and practice hitting the ‘delete’ key before throwing junk on other people’s desks. I can personally attest to this strategy – it works!
September 22nd, 2009
Email is a great source of stress and frustration for business leaders and executives. It kills productivity, hinders results and decreases personal motivation. A minor shift in your email management process can produce a major productivity improvement.
Clients tell me on a regular basis, “I get 300 emails a day,” “I have 1200 emails in my inbox ,” “It’s hard to stay on-top of the ‘incoming’ – urghh.”
Checking email, reading email and answering email can take hours of time if you let it. But only if you let it.
I have the secret to email productivity – and it works!
Picture your mailbox at home. Mine is a black metal mailbox affixed to a stone wall. Now, visualize it completely jammed with letters, over-flowing with envelopes.
At home, we don’t treat our mailbox as a storage system. We do not keep letters there for nights upon nights, weekends…forever. No! Every day we remove the mail, sort it and do something with it – open, toss or save for later. That’s the same thing you need to do with your inbox.
Here’s the solution: treat your inbox like a mailbox, not a storage box.
- Create 4-5 folders to prioritize messages. I use ‘Urgent’, ‘Important but Not Urgent’, ‘Awaiting Reply’, ‘Read’, ‘Resources’.
- When mail arrives, SORT into appropriate file folders before doing anything else!
- Deal with the ‘urgent’ emails once your sorting is complete. I look at my urgent emails twice a day.
- Deal with the secondary folders on a regular basis - I check the ‘Important but Not Urgent’ emails every second day and dip into the other files once per week.
In order to make this work, you will have to catch yourself to SORT first and to ‘deal with’ second. On the days when you let this slide, you will quickly notice how your emails get out of hand.
Try it and see how it goes.
September 17th, 2009
The most effective teams are full of people who have the courage to exercise professional clout in meetings. They’re prepared and passionate about the meeting contents, willing to be influenced and to influence others. They are willing to take ownership of their individual excellence; their wisdom, knowledge and judgement. All of this equals clout!
You may ask – why clout?
The word clout resonates for me. It represents the courage to be excellent, to put forth my viewpoint and to influence my team. If I’m successful, hopefully I will have the courage to try again next time.
Clout is different than power; my interpretation of power is too closely linked to control.
- Follow your passion with persistence, magnified by intense preparation (preparation and passion)
- Use compassion and courage to weave a strong web of connections (influence)
- Use focused excellence to drive achievement and gain wisdom (ownership and courage).
She states, “It is through combination of all these things that your power will reveal itself. The magnitude and reach of your power is up to you”. She continues, “Connectivity is key; it is what creates and strengthens your web of opportunity. The more connected you are, and the stronger your connections, the more effective you will be in obtaining and using power to achieve your goals.”
Now that resonates for me! That woman has clout! Your thoughts?
April 21st, 2009
Emotional Intelligence is smart!
It is key to the success of highly developed and functioning teams. When individuals are aware of the five elements of emotional intelligence they have a deeper ability to navigate individual and team effectiveness.
There has been lots of buzz about Emotional Intelligence for years, as well as lots of confusion about what it is.
The five core elements of Emotional Intelligence that we use when working with teams:
- Self awareness: the ability to connect with my emotions and articulate the source,
- Self management: the ability to manage what I do in the midst of that awareness,
- Empathy: once I experience self awareness I can increase my empathy for others,
- Social skills: I can navigate my relationships using my self awareness, management and empathy,
- Leadership assertiveness: not to be confused with ‘leadership aggressiveness’. With assertiveness I can competently come forward with my viewpoint and opinion to influence others and to promote effective decision making.
Consider the impact that elevated emotional intelligence may have within your core team.
April 20th, 2009
Why is emotional intelligence such an important subject today? Because emotional intelligence today wins the race. When teams can communicate together on a very interpersonal level, results can absolutely soar.
There are five components to address:
- Self awareness
- Self management
- Social skills
- Leadership assertiveness
What I’d like to encourage you to do is to think about the emotional intelligence in your teams. In this video, I’ll share a few quick tips to get you started.
April 19th, 2009
Today I’d like to share a few thoughts about people, values, time and sustainability.
Now, more than ever, we’re talking with companies about “people sustainability.” How do people live their personal life and their professional life wisely?
This idea leads us into the importance of life choices. What is our most valuable resource? Time. And each day, we can choose how to spend that time.
In this video, I’ll share a story about a CEO who is passionately clear about his values and the importance of the people who work in and with his organization. He’s a fervent believer in developing relationships, and he has a great tip for balancing his personal and professional life with his value of relationships and the limiting factor of time.