Emotional intelligence has been a popular buzzword for nearly three decades, but its adoption in the business world has skyrocketed in recent years as CIOs, IT managers, MSP owners, and other business leaders have looked at different ways of explaining how to improve workplace dynamics. In recent years, emotional intelligence has become important in the technology workplace conversation for personal and business growth.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence (also called “Emotional Quotient” or “EQ”) is not a new concept. References to “social intelligence,” or the ability to function with a social awareness of self and others, date back to the early 1900s. Researchers Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer coined the term emotional intelligence in 1990 when they published their research on adaptive and maladaptive emotional qualities. This launched the modern framework for emotional intelligence, which is your self-awareness and ability to manage your personal emotions, along with your awareness of the emotions of others.
The soft skills needed to display emotional intelligence include social skills, empathy, emotional self-regulation, verbal and nonverbal communication, and stress management.
Why Is Emotional Intelligence Important in the Workplace?
Emotional intelligence permeates all interpersonal interactions, and if members of your team have a low emotional intelligence quotient (or EQ), it can negatively affect their personal life and professional success as individuals, as well as the entire workplace culture.
Technology managers have become increasingly aware that hiring employees with technical skills and traditional intelligence (IQ) is not enough to build a successful team. The tech industry relies on effective communication. Whether interacting with other team members or external clients, your staff needs to be able to interpret nonverbal cues like body language and facial expressions, navigate difficult situations with tact, and manage both positive and negative emotions appropriately while in a professional setting. This applies to their relationships with both customers and coworkers.
Unfortunately, these skills historically have been overlooked in many technical training programs, which has resulted in highly-skilled employees who lack the capacity to manage workplace stress, navigate emotional triggers, or develop successful relationships with clients and coworkers. The effects on a workplace can be devastating and costly, including reduced employee engagement, lower workplace satisfaction, poor customer relationships, and a deflated team culture.
But the good news is that emotional intelligence skills can be learned. They can be cultivated with training and practice. Using strategic training tools, your IT teams can develop better social skills, learn active listening techniques, foster a higher level of emotional awareness, and improve their ability to navigate stressful situations in the workplace.
What are the Benefits of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace?
There are many benefits to having employees with high EQ. Some major ones include:
1. A Stronger Team Culture: People with emotional intelligence skills have strong social skills and conflict resolution skills, which lead to better interpersonal interactions with supervisors and colleagues. When team members develop healthy interpersonal relationships with their coworkers, the whole team thrives.
2. More Resilient Employees: Every workplace has stress. The ideal employee can regulate their emotions to avoid escalating during challenging situations, leaving them with the ability to problem-solve and focus on the task at hand. A person with high EQ has the resilience to bounce back from disappointment, and the coping mechanisms to self-regulate during times of elevated stress levels.
3. Stronger Leadership Skills: Emotionally intelligent individuals are well-suited to leadership roles. A good leader displays empathy, is self-aware of how their actions affect others, and can navigate stressful situations. Their social skills also contribute to their leadership ability; they can relate well to their team members, company leaders, and customers or clients.
4. Better Customer Service: The interpersonal skills of an emotionally intelligent person allow them to offer better service to customers. They can listen to customer needs, effectively communicate solutions, and navigate difficult or tenuous interactions. They can also develop strong relationships with long-term customers to ensure their continued loyalty.
5. Improved Job Performance: Employees with strong emotional intelligence skills can effectively receive feedback or accept constructive criticism to improve their job performance. This is in contrast to someone without this emotional maturity, who may get defensive or take things personally.
6. Increased Job Satisfaction & Retention: Studies consistently show that employees who have good relationships with colleagues are happier on the job and stay with employers longer. Team members with good EQ can develop healthy interpersonal relationships with their coworkers, leading to higher job satisfaction and lower staff turnover.
7. A Better Bottom Line: It costs money to recruit and train staff. It costs more money to lose customers to poor customer service, or to miss out on potential sales because your team doesn’t have the strong relationship with clients that would encourage more loyalty. When you invest in the emotional intelligence of your team you’re setting your whole company, department, or organization up for financial success by reducing the risk of potentially costly scenarios.
How Can Employers Improve the Emotional Intelligence of Team Members?
Emotional intelligence skills can be improved just like technical skills, but it involves a culture shift and placing as much emphasis on staff’s soft skills as their hard skills. To do this, incorporate training into your employees’ professional development plans that cover critical skills like empathy, interpersonal communication, nonverbal communication, giving and receiving feedback, managing stress, and customer service. Set emotional intelligence as an expectation of your team’s culture and normalize the ongoing development of those skills the same way you do for ongoing technical training.
Emotional Intelligence Training for IT Professionals
Compassionate Geek’s Emotional Intelligence for IT Professionals course is online, on-demand, and available for both individuals and groups. Your team already has the technical knowledge. Add emotional intelligence training to unlock their full potential!
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