Emotional Intelligence (EI) in the Workplace

12 August 2016

Sounds very dry doesn't it but stay with me, I'm sure you will find this as interesting as I have!

In this digital age everyone’s emotional point of view is everywhere. People are freer to express themselves in 2016 than they have ever been and they have multiple ways in which they can do so.  Often however, particularly in the workplace, it is difficult for people to hide emotions when face to face with colleagues every day.

I was recently asked in my forum business group to do a presentation at my Entrepreneur’s Organisation Forum on staffing.  When putting together statistics and events we have personally experienced involving our staff at Bitton over the last few years and in particular in the last 6 months with the opening of our second café, we were overwhelmed by the incidents with and turnover and ultimate cost of staff.

We’ve had family disputes, psychological issues, serious health problems and personality disorders all of which have led to walk outs, no shows and sadly the departure of some very good staff.  

It begged the question - How does an employer safely, respectfully and productively manage the emotional state of their employees without effecting the productivity of their business?  What responsibility lies with the employer to be supportive and with the employee to be emotionally intelligent enough to remain professional in their work environment?

A single employee’s emotional state can dictate an entire workplace so it is vital that we get this balance right. Sohani and I have both been through much training ourselves to try and learn where that boundary is and how to stick to it, however we continue to find ourselves becoming too involved, too quickly and often with not great results. We know that happy workers are productive workers however where does the line start and end, particularly in small business? Our industry always attracts emotional and passionate people, but how much leeway do we give?

So what is the answer?

Wherever possible, there needs to be a ‘buffer’ between us as the business owners and our staff members. Even in a small business like ours. A buffer that allows the emotional needs to be dealt with first, and then we can step in and work on the situation if needs be.  We understand that of course they cannot always be separated but we will do our best to try. 

In the meantime, we will also try to foster emotional intelligence in the workplace with our staff. There are several online assessments that you can actually do to find out your personal emotional intelligence score which we are going to complete ourselves as well as encourage our staff to do the same. Sohani and I have been doing a lot of research into this and found a great article on just this, 5 ways to improve emotional intelligence in your staff.  So here goes:

  1. Improve self-awareness – this will in turn improve self-confidence
  2. Improve self-regulation – good self-regulation leads to trustworthiness and integrity
  3. Improve motivation – motivated managers are more committed and have a natural strong desire to achieve
  4. Improve ability to show empathy – empathetic employees are generally good listeners
  5. Improve social skills – great for building networks and navigating relationships

(reference liveboldandbloom.com)

For those of your who are intrigued about you own EI – try this online test and get your score. Give it a go - it’s really interesting ! http://www.maetrix.com.au/meit/eitest.html