How to Improve Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

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For better or worse, emotions have a significant impact on your employees' performance — both individually and as a team. While an emotionally stable team is much more likely to succeed overall, a toxic work environment will make it much harder for your team to reach their goals.


And emotions are contagious.


Yes, your happy and satisfied employees can have a positive influence on the rest of your team. But, as the saying goes, one bad apple can spoil the bunch: A single "toxic" employee can cause negativity to spread through your organization like wildfire.


Whether positively or negatively, this contagion doesn't happen accidentally. It all depends on how dedicated you are to developing your employees' emotional intelligence.


Key Benefits of Developing Emotional Intelligence


As we've discussed before, emotional intelligence (EQ) is "the innate ability to understand and manage your own emotions and recognize, categorize, and influence the emotions of others."


As crucial as it is for leaders to develop their own EQ, it's just as important to nurture emotional intelligence within their team members, as well.


Improved Employee Well-Being


If you're at all familiar with Maslow's hierarchy of needs, you know that your employees simply can't perform to the best of their ability if they aren't emotionally "in a good place."


Creating a workplace in which all team members are emotionally able to thrive is vital to your business's success. Your high-EQ employees will not only be free to thrive individually but will also spread their optimistic outlook throughout your organization daily.


Increased Employee Engagement


We've said before that employee engagement is the "emotional commitment an employee has to the organization and its goals, resulting in the use of discretionary effort."


In developing your employees' EQ, you equip them with the ability to channel their emotions appropriately. This, in turn, leads to improved focus and enhanced productivity across the board.


Enhanced Knowledge Sharing & Collaboration


Your employees' willingness to collaborate and share their knowledge with others hinges on trust. They need to know their unique value will be appreciated and that their efforts will lead to a positive outcome for themselves as individuals and the team.  To put it another way, they need to be sure their expertise won't be taken advantage of by their colleagues or supervisors.


By creating a trusting, emotionally positive environment, you'll pave the way for collaboration to take place at all times throughout your organization.


Improved Conflict Resolution


Interpersonal conflicts are bound to arise in any workplace environment. Such conflicts can cause emotions to run wild — making it incredibly difficult for the involved parties to reach an agreement of any kind.


The higher your employees' emotional intelligence, though, the less likely it is for this to happen. Instead, your high-EQ team members will be able to set their egos aside to resolve the issue as quickly and effectively as possible.


Increased Employee Retention


In creating such an emotionally positive working environment, you'll almost certainly improve your employee retention ratesFor one thing, your employees will find their experiences working within your organization more rewarding. What's more, because they'll have become more in-tune with their emotions, they'll understand why they've had such a positive overall experience working within your company. In turn, they'll have every reason to stay on board and continue giving their all.


How to Improve Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace


Overall, improving your employees' EQ will require you to change your approach to hiring and training your team members. Here's how to make it happen.


Get Team Leads to Buy-In


As we touched on earlier, your managers and other team leads need to exhibit emotional intelligence to foster it within your employees. This means not only being emotionally intelligent but also showcasing this intelligence when interacting with other members of your team. More than just "having a positive attitude," your team leads should regularly model their thought processes and interpersonal skills at all times.


Your leaders should also call attention to moments when your employees showcase and use their emotional intelligence productively. Because EQ is often tacit in nature, you need to take full advantage of these moments to ensure your team members know what it "looks like" in action.


Get Your HR Team Involved


Your human resources team can help you stay focused on emotional intelligence throughout the hiring process [and more] in a few ways:

  • Defining the characteristics and qualities exhibited by high-EQ candidates
  • Determining the cultural "fit" of otherwise qualified candidates
  • Assessing your organization's strengths, weaknesses, and overall needs in terms of emotional intelligence

This will help your hiring team go beyond mere "on-paper" credentials to identify the best possible candidate for a given position. As you focus more on EQ throughout the hiring process, you'll inevitably bring more qualified and dedicated individuals onboard.


Inject EQ Development Into Training Sessions


Though building culture isn't a training program in itself, your approach to professional development should have an emotional aspect to it.


Instead of teaching and learning through rote instruction, make sure your employees understand the contextual importance of what they're learning. Consider how specific scenarios may play out in the "real world" and the role your team members' emotional intelligence will have in their ability to navigate the situation productively.


This approach will ensure your employees gain more than just a "textbook" understanding of their duties — and can productively tackle any issue that comes their way.


Focus on EQ During Performance Reviews


To improve their emotional intelligence, your employees need to have a solid understanding of their current abilities. This isn't to say you should start scoring EQ as a "gotcha" — in fact, quite the opposite.


Instead, you'll want to start providing feedback to help your employees maintain emotional stability when facing adversity and to help them channel their emotions into productive efforts. More than simply discussing EQ growth with them, you might choose to create mentorships and other partnerships to help them see it in action. This, again, makes the intangible a bit more understandable — allowing your employees' emotional intelligence to spread throughout your organization with ease.


Emotional Intelligence is key to your organization's success. DH has solutions to help your organization improve emotional intelligence. 

Learn More About DH Workshops Here

About the Author

Josh Brown

Josh is a former engineer-turned-marketer with a passion for writing on topics that (hopefully) help businesses with improving the experience of their employees. Currently, Josh is the Marketing Manager at Helpjuice which provides a knowledge base solution that can be used to promote agile knowledge sharing and collaboration among employees. Connect with Josh on Twitter and LinkedIn. 


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