Emotional Intelligence - A Multi-problem Solution

Dec 3 09:32 2008 Byron Stock Print This Article

A group of OD professionals developed a list of 45 issues impacted by Emotional Intelligence (EI) skill development. The list is quite eye opening. As an organizational improvement intervention, EI skill development has the potential to positively impact a multitude of organizational problems concurrently. Development of EI skills does not just improve leadership competencies or management skills. The effect is far-reaching.

Not long ago,Guest Posting I was invited to facilitate a professional development network (PDN) session of the Chicago Organizational Development Network. The group, comprised of seasoned consultants from large organizations, gathers with the purpose of sharing information and learning from one another. As is my practice, I designed a highly interactive program. The objective was to identify how significant the development of Emotional Intelligence (EI) skills can be for the workplace.

After defining Emotional Intelligence and providing some examples of the results obtained from our applied EI skill-building programs, I asked the group to divide into three smaller groups and note on flipcharts what issues or problems could be improved within their organizations by increasing EI skills. The groups spent about 10 minutes identifying and discussing the issues or problems, then reported on their lists. The composite, alphabetized list below details the 45 issues identified by the group.

- Absenteeism

- Call reluctance

- Change management

- Coaching

- Communication

- Conflict management

- Creativity

- Culture change

- Customer satisfaction

- Decision-making

- Developing leaders

- Efficiency

- Emergencies

- Employee engagement

- Employee satisfaction

- Expectation setting

- Goal attainment

- Goal setting

- Grievances

- Group interaction

- Health care costs

- Lawsuits

- Leadership

- Lost time accidents

- Mergers

- Non-union status

- Patient safety

- Performance management

- "Politics"

- Problem solving

- Process improvement

- Productivity

- Project management

- Quality

- Retention

- Sales/revenue

- "Silo" mentality

- Stress

- Succession planning

- Supplier relations

- Teamwork

- Thought clarity

- Trust/loyalty

- Work/life balance

- Workplace violence

It's quite eye opening to see this expansive list which is, most likely, not all-inclusive. I can't think of any other organizational improvement intervention that has the potential to positively impact so may organizational problems concurrently. Development of Emotional Intelligence skills does not just improve leadership competencies or management skills. It has a far-reaching effect. And the percentage improvement our clients have experienced is dramatic. Participants in our programs have reported a range of 20% to 35% increase in personal productivity, 15% to 35% increased teamwork, a 20% to 40% reduction in stress and worry, and similar improvements in management of emotional reactiveness, personal motivation, creativity, work/life balance and more.

As always, I like to be conservative when conducting impact interviews to gather results. Let's be even more conservative by cutting the above ranges in half. What would a 10% to 20% reduction in stress and worry, a 10% to 17% increase in personal productivity, or a 7% to 17% increase in teamwork mean to your organization? Because it's well documented that stress impacts health, we can assume that a reduction in stress and worry may well impact health care costs which, in turn, positively impacts the organizational bottom line.

Let's look at a few other areas identified by our group of experts. One of the toughest issues on the list is grievances. Despite its difficult nature, one of our participants, using simple, proven techniques, was able to resolve grievances at the first step in the process and reported a significant reduction in step 2 grievances. And in another specific example, a participant reported an increase in employee engagement. When he started applying the techniques, his direct reports viewed him as more approachable and presented an idea that, when implemented, saved the location the equivalent of 10 people per year. This roughly translates to about $300,000 toward the bottom line.

I always enjoy stories from the transportation industry. When asked about improvement in resolving or managing conflict, one participant stated, "This is huge! I used to thrive on the conflict. Now I avoid it. It's a daily issue. Now I will talk between dock guys and drivers. Now we're not yelling and throwing stuff. It would get ugly sometimes - wresting matches at times. Drivers are rough around the edges and can get pushy/feely. I was always the first one to step up. This hasn't happened in awhile. Arguments don't break out now. I let people vent and explain why (the issue is they way it is) or I don't say anything (just let them vent and be heard)."

The point is that helping people at all levels of the organization to develop their EI skills helps improve or resolve multiple problems and issues. It is far more effective to leverage scarce resources with EI skill-building as opposed to focusing on narrow, targeted interventions such as conflict management or change management, or communication.

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About Article Author

Byron Stock
Byron Stock

Tailoring the art and science of Emotional Intelligence (EI) to your needs, Byron Stock focuses on results, helping individuals and organizations enhance Emotional Intelligence skills, leadership competencies and core values. Visit www.ByronStock.com to learn about his practical, user-friendly techniques to enhance Emotional Intelligence skills.

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