Heart to heart

first_imgHeart to heartOn 10 Apr 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article The concept of emotionalintelligence and its impact on a firm’s efficiency has fast gained recognition.Caroline Horn offers a guide to converting emotion into action Personal qualities andpeople skills such as empathy and self-knowledge – otherwise known as emotionalintelligence – are increasingly being seen as good for business. Colin Selby,director of business psychology consultancy Selby MillSmith, des-cribesemotional intelligence as “the capacity for self-awareness and thecapability to sympathise, which is linked to how a person manages theirbehaviour and skills they use at work.” Since US psychologist DanielGoleman applied the term to the workplace in 1996 (Emotional Intelligence – whyit can matter more than IQ), interest in the concept has grown with a number ofstudies into its positive effect on areas such as leadership skills, managingchange and staff retention.Tim Sparrow, coursedirector at the Centre for Applied Emotional Intelligence, says, “Therehas been a distinct change in the approach to emotional intelligence over thepast 18 months. To begin with, after people found it was measurable, they wereinterested in simply developing it and it was seen as the answer to everyone’sprayers. Now, people are more interested in what you can do, how you can useemotional intelligence and how you can intervene to do something about it. Atsenior levels, it is correlated with effective performance and, because it isrecognised it is can be developed, that you can get a long-term effect.”He adds, “Peopleare also now more aware that emotional intelligence is not one thing – it ismade up of lots of related things. Early tests tended to give you a figure ofyour “EQ” which was unhelpful have different strengths in differentareas and what is important is that shape, rather than “you are good atthis or that.’” Goleman believes thatemotional intelligence covers a number of aspects of personality, includingself-awareness, emotional management, self-motivation, empathy, relationshipmanagement, communication skills and personal style.A number of studiesare also under way to show how such skills can affect an organisation’s growthand how companies can develop their own “emotional capital”. DrMalcolm Higgs of Henley Management College is examining the extent to whichcreating the right environment can effect the development of emotionalintelligence in an organisation. His research, still at an early stage,involves looking at the measure to which a particular culture can support orinhibit emotional intelligence.He has studied 180people across 11 organisations. “We found that the more a culture isassociated with emotional intelligence, the more it attracts and retainspeople,” says Dr Higgs. “This links in with other studies showing alink between emotional intelligence in an organisation – its emotional capital– and an individual’s morale and levels of stress. The higher the emotionalintelligence, the lower the levels of stress.”There are a number ofdifferent ways to look at emotional intelligence, says James Park, managingdirector of consultancy Antidote. “What we try to do is enable anorganisation to look at the interaction between the individuals andorganisational structure and culture in an ongoing way. We describe this as emotionalliteracy – how individuals’ skills and abilities manifest themselves comes downto the way in which they respond to an organisation.”There are a range ofissues involved in building emotional capital, from assessing emotionalintelligence and defining which areas to develop, to deciding where a company’spriorities lie in terms of developing competencies. Dr Higgs comments, “Ihave been involved in projects where emotional intelligence is becoming asignificant part of coaching leaders. That is increasingly coming down tocoaching-based interventions.” There is, he adds, noquick fix. “You hear quite a lot of people talking about developingemotional intelligence but it is not something you can deliver through atwo-day course – there is no quick fix.”And emotional capitalis taking on increasingly global perspectives. Peter Melrose, partner of HayManagement Consultants, says, “In the past couple of years we have beenworking increasingly with the HR departments of large organisations to address theissue of emotional intelligence. Organisations are becoming very interested incomparing their levels of emotional intelligence against internationalbenchmarks.”There are a number ofareas a company needs to consider once it has decided to develop their “emotionalcapital”. A five-point plan towards developing emotional capital in yourorganisation follows. Assess and developemotional competenciesInitially, says DrHiggs, it is important that the organisation spends time explaining whatemotional intelligence is and exploring the issues. That will help”kick-start” it in the development process. “You have to findout which people are good at using assessment, preferably on a 360-degreebasis, then give careful feedback,” he says. “Coaching can be on alengthy one-to-one basis or part of a development programme.”Once the assessmentshave been completed and people understand where their strengths and weaknesseslie, it is important to find out what they are interested in changing. Dr Higgsadds, “It is very clear that, unless someone is motivated to change, theywon’t put in the effort to do it. If they don’t buy into the result, they won’tcommit to it”.This, says Dr Higgs,is where 360-degree feedback is important in self-assessment. “If yousimply sit people through tests and give them the results, people canrationalise it and you can get more denial. With 360-degree feedback, thedifference between how people see themselves and how others see them is veryclear. Individuals then need to consider the different areas and decide whatthey will work on.”You also need todecide what is the most appropriate way to develop those areas, says Sparrow.”There are some people you can test, explain the results, and they willpick it up and run with it. Others are not so good at doing that and they needsupport from a person outside the organisation. Different people need differentinterventions.”Enable teams to learnon the jobLearning on the job iswhere most learning takes place, but for it to be effective, a very specificagenda is required, says Dr Higgs. “Prioritise. Get members to work on onearea of emotional intelligence at a time, not all seven areas. Generally, youare looking at six-to-nine months to see a noticeable change in one area,although it speeds up after that.” Since a team willoften include counterbalancing strengths and techniques, individuals can learnto work with the skills of others, rather than competing against them. Dr Higgsadds, “Individuals need to recognise the strengths they have. If they arein a team and have to deal with a complex decision but don’t have all theinformation, and there is one member who is strong on intuition, then theylearn to listen to that person.” Teamwork is alsoimportant because members can give each other constant feedback – an importantpart of the learning process. Dr Higgs comments, “To some extent, itseffectiveness depends on the organisation’s culture and whether it is an openculture where people can give and receive feedback. If so, development will bemuch better.”Team work has alsobecome more sophisticated, adds Sparrow. “When emotional intelligencestarted hitting the headlines, a lot of HR professionals said they wanted towork with it, and asked for team tests. There weren’t any available specificallyfor teams, so companies applied individual tests to teams.”But that is missingthe point, he says. “We all behave differently in different teams orgroups. In some, you have to watch your backs while others are supportive. Theemotional intelligence of a team is not just a fraction of the individuals onthe team – some teams foster emotional intelligence behaviour, some do not. Soyou need to use a measure, like the one we have developed, that tests groupemotional intelligence.”And there are alwaysindividuals who will do all they can to avoid the challenges of team work,warns Selby. “While team work is very effective in enhancing awareness,people will change their work or team rather than their behaviour in order tointegrate effectively into a team.” He adds that other forms of”training” such as psychotherapy “can help an individual resolveconflicts that are causing them pain in their emotional behaviours”.Enhance individuals’and groups’ ability to self-developThere is growinginterest in self-directed learning, says Melrose. “The principle is thatan individual has to own their own learning process. Because of that, as muchof the learning needs as possible need to be in the workplace rather than atraining room.” The elements of emotional intelligence are best developedon a sustained basis, agrees Dr Higgs, but adds that while the elements providea useful framework for people developing themselves, that needs to be supportedby coaching, mentoring and peer mentoring – which also helps draw emotionalintelligence further down the organisation. He points out that it is alsoimportant that individuals attend an initial workshop on the development offeedback skills – how to give feedback and how to listen to it.Selby also recommendsa series of training modules followed by coaching at the place of work sopeople can continuously learn what they have achieved, and where they need todo more work. But while self-learning is important, he comments, “Withoutcoaching, it’s a waste of time, and the coaching has to be continuous.”Organisations can usevarious appr-oaches to self-development, says Dr Higgs. “One organisationwe worked with looked into emotional intelligence and aspects concerning itssalespeople. Each of the sales team identified areas they needed to focus onand set up what were called ‘development clubs’ focusing on different areas.”They meet everycouple of months and work together as a group or pairs and act as coachestogether. The group is given a lot of autonomy so, if they identify a problem,they can bring someone in to work with them on that topic. That comes back tothe culture in the organisation – it is recognised that that development isimportant, and they are supported.”Develop a new breed ofleaders to transform a firms’ cultureSome people claimemotional intelligence is more important the higher you go in an organisation,says Dr Higgs. “We looked at people’s competencies in terms of change andtheir ability to lead change. The assessment was competency-based, using360-degree measures for leadership capability and then using a 360-degreemeasure of emotional intelligence. We found that six of the seven elements wehave identified for emotional intelligence were related to five areas ofleadership capabilities. I have since been using the two together in my‘developing leadership’ training programmes.”Any organisationlooking to introduce emotional intelligence alongside leadership training needsto clarify the purpose of its leadership training, says Selby. “You needto consider if your organisation is looking at succession planning or aperson’s competencies within a job context; 360-degree feedback is good for thelatter, while emotional intelligence measures will give you a good indicationof someone’s potential and how that person can be developed in terms of theirleadership capability.”He adds, “Thereare different types of leaders. Those who have displayed early promise ofleadership promise by taking on responsibilities will benefit from emotionalintelligence training because they have shown potential and motivation. Theywill be good at influencing people, so will take the workforce with them,whereas a crisis leader won’t take other people forward with them – they wouldexpect people simply to follow them.”And even leaders mightneed persuading that they need to change, says Sparrow. “You might have aleader who is a difficult person to work with in a team situation. Theimportant thing is to realise that you can’t make people change; you have topersuade them that it is worth changing. That is, help them to realise that theway they are is getting in the way of what they need to get done, and this canbe quite a challenge for people.Build new skills forHR professionalsDr Higgs argues thatHR people should themselves have high levels of emotional intelligence. Hesays, “The techniques of HR tend to be quite fixed, for example in termsof reward, and HR people really need to understand how this plays into theculture of the organisation. They might find there are other things they needto develop – they might need to address management leadership issues, forexample – so they can create the climate in an organisation where emotionalintelligence will flourish.”Sparrow’s organisationruns a nine-month action learning course for professionals, called theCertificate in Applied Emotional Intelligence. He says, “Peopleare beginning to realise that emotional intelligence is not something you canlearn about. It’s very difficult to help people develop emotional intelligenceunless you have emotional intelligence yourself.”Short of undertakingextensive courses, there is plenty of professional help available for diagnosisand a suggested course of action, although, as Higgs warns, in purely technicalterms HR departments need to be clear about the material they are using toimplement emotional intelligence. “The challenge is to get good quality –what is clearly and soundly proven or demonstrated. A lot of people are re-badgingstuff as emotional intelligence. You need a deep understanding of the subjectto know what is useful and what is not.”Above all, says Selby,”HR professionals need to move away from the ethic which produces safedecisions towards focusing on profitable decisions – guiding and influencing –that will help to drive a company forward.” Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more