There is a need to make workplaces more ‘emotionally intelligent,’ i.e. having more emotionally intelligent people on your books.
But how do you assess where you stand right now? Should you be doing more?
It helps to compare yourself against benchmarks, and there are certain tests that you can do to assess emotional intelligence levels. The tools provided by the Institute of Social and Emotional Intelligence (ISEI), are some of the most effective EQ assessment and development tools around, however, it also helps to understand how emotional intelligence manifests itself in the workplace.
How do you recognise EQ? Here are a few examples that you can start keeping an eye out for immediately in your office.
1. Almost all employees will get upset, have bad moods, argue, and just have bad days.
How you deal with this says a lot about your EQ. Do you pretend it’s not happening or, worse still, criticise it and tell them to “snap out of it”? Compassion and understanding is a sure sign of emotional intelligence in practice. Being aware, and responding to other people’s emotional states shows an understanding that all humans experience strong emotions and, says that a person’s feeling matter.
Of course, if negative emotions become a regular pattern of behaviour for particular employees, it may require more dedicated help and counselling or indicate deeper-seated issues.
2. People listen to each other in meetings
Ever been in a meeting when it seems like everyone is talking over each other, trying to get the loudest or last word? These are also tell-tale signs of a lack of emotional intelligence.
When people are allowed to speak, and others listen, without constant interruptions, it’s a good sign of EQ at play. It shows a mutual respect between parties and is more likely to lead to a constructive conclusion in meetings.
3. People express themselves openly
A workplace where people feel confident in speaking their minds, exchanging views, and expressing their emotions is also demonstrating emotional intelligence. Conversely, where emotions, thoughts, and opinions remain bottled up, it can become a ticking time-bomb.
As long as exchanges are always in a respectful manner, emotionally intelligent people do not get upset when opinions don’t match their own; they expect diversity and celebrate it. And they are comfortable in people expressing how they feel because they don’t expect people to behave like robots at work.
4. Most change initiatives work
Change is an inevitable part of the workplace. How change is managed and responded to will say a lot about the leadership and their relationships with employees.
Where change is constantly resisted, it may indicate poor management of the initiatives, with a lack of understanding of their effects on people. If new initiatives are regularly introduced successfully, it’s a good sign that emotional intelligence has gone into the planning, introduction, and response to the changes.
Flexibility is a key word in organisations today. Building flexibility into the way people work can be the difference between retaining the best talent and it drifting out the door. It is especially important for millennials, who tend to place a high value on lifestyle.
Emotionally intelligent leaders understand the changing demands of others and are prepared to work with them rather than trying to impose restrictions on how people go about their work. They don’t expect everyone to work the hours that they do, hold the same priorities, or live by exactly the same values.
6. People have the freedom to be creative
The creative impulse is a strong one; try to cage it and it will find a way to break free. Depending on the nature of your organisation, a high value may or may not be placed on creativity, but creative people will always deem it important, regardless.
Ideally you have a good match of creative people and an innovative organisation. In this case, people are allowed the time, space, and freedom to be creative and to march to their own beat to achieve it.
7. People meet out of work time
The social impulse in people is also a strong one. Of course, there are different ways of being social, and it doesn’t mean that everyone should be meeting for after-work drinks every Friday, though that’s absolutely fine!
Whether colleagues are having a chat over the water-cooler, having lunch together, or catching the train in to work together, these are all signs of social behaviour. It’s usually accompanied by people having fun and enjoying each other’s company, which helps to keep stress out of the equation. People forming close bonds like this should be encouraged as another important element of an emotionally intelligent workplace.
The above are just seven examples; the list goes on and on, of course.
If you’re looking to build more EQ into your teams, the best place to start is the tools from the ISEI. The feedback you get will tell you where you stand right now and the recommendations can be applied in practical and relevant ways, in real workplace situations.