4 Ways to Hone Your Emotional Intelligence and Build a Great Team
When people who recently quit their jobs were asked by Pew researchers why they did so, nearly six out of 10 cited disrespect. Yet it’s worth pursuing a logical question: Was the disrespect a result of actual disdain from their managers? Or could the underlying problem be a lack of emotional intelligence among those leading them?
Emotional intelligence plays an enormous role in the way that individuals interact. Someone with high emotional intelligence can tap into their own emotions and others’ feelings. As you might imagine, that’s a powerful asset for anyone with direct reports. When you’re in touch with everyone’s emotions, you automatically increase your self-awareness and social awareness abilities. This helps you gain plenty of benefits.
For example, high emotional intelligence will enable you to serve your people in personalized ways, such as being very direct with someone who values succinctness and more conversational with someone who likes lengthier explanations. You can build trust and loyalty by responding to your team members on a personal level. From a managerial standpoint, this enables you to grow a tight-knit group of engaged workers who genuinely feel you see them as unique individuals.
What if you aren’t quite in tune with your emotions? You don’t have to assume that you’ll never be able to get all the advantages of emotional intelligence. It’s possible to increase your emotional intelligence on the job. You can start by implementing the following strategies designed to boost your emotional intelligence so it can have a positive effect on everyone on your team.
1. Develop self-awareness by labeling your emotional states.
For at least a week, keep an emotions journal. Every time you feel your emotions spiking, write down how you feel. Try to be as complete as you can since many emotions happen concurrently. After naming your emotions, write down why you feel how you feel. What triggered your emotions? What do your emotions make you want to do or not do?
Though an exercise like this might initially feel awkward, it will help you gain a clearer insight into your emotions and how they manifest themselves. The more you know about your feelings, the easier it will be to spot them in coworkers. And when you have clarity on how your colleagues most likely feel, you can adjust your interactions appropriately to help them feel like you’re on their side.
2. Transform challenges and errors into valuable learning opportunities.
Occasionally, you can be sure your team members will come to you with problems and mishaps. Instead of blowing your top or allowing yourself to give in to helplessness, work with your team to reframe the experience. Try to find the “golden opportunity” or the “hidden lesson” in what happened.
Say a worker makes an error that disrupts your operations. Rather than just yelling or telling the worker never to make the error, seek to find the truth. Did the error happen because a bigger issue was never addressed? Or was the error because the employee was overloaded and working too hastily? Taking a step back allows you and everyone else to calm down and make smarter decisions.
3. Cultivate a culture of gratitude by expressing appreciation effectively.
It can be surprisingly difficult for many managers—including ones who are knowledgeable—to say thank you to their teams. If this describes your situation, use your budding emotional intelligence to create patterns of gratitude.
Maybe you’ll want to set up an annual team outing to deliver physical corporate awards for work that went above and beyond. Or perhaps you’d like to augment a yearly event with monthly shoutouts and occasional distributions of thank-you gift cards or “care packages.” Over time, watch which types of employee recognition vehicles matter to each team member. That way, you can tweak your timing and gifting to what your people want.
4. Foster transparency and integrity in your interactions with employees.
A big misconception about practicing emotional intelligence is that you must hold your tongue. Even leaders with the greatest emotional intelligence quotients in the world are upfront. The key is to deliver the truth honestly without making a worker feel devalued, undermined, or offended.
Will some employees still have trouble hearing the facts? Absolutely. However, as long as you are straightforward yet kind, you can be sure you follow the emotional intelligence recommended “rules of the road.” In time, you’ll become known for being a fair leader who treats people with respect without keeping them from reality.
It’s safe to say that you can’t have too strong a grasp on your emotional intelligence. Consequently, you’ll want to begin improving yours right away. Both you and your team will be the beneficiaries when you do.
Mike Szczesny is the owner and vice president of EDCO Awards & Specialties, a dedicated supplier of employee recognition products, branded merchandise, and athletic and corporate awards. Szczesny takes pride in EDCO's ability to help companies go the extra mile in expressing gratitude and appreciation to their employees. He resides in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.