How Emotional Intelligence Helps Employees Thrive

September 24, 2020

Hayley Hesseln, PhD, CEC, and co-founder EI Advantage tells us about emotional intelligence in the workforce and how to get more of it.  She has a commerce degree and a doctorate degree and has worked as a university professor since 1996 in the US and Canada.

Her passion is developing individuals and helping people help themselves.

When I was doing my commerce degree at the University of Saskatchewan, I had to take a class in organizational behaviour.  At the time, I was not interested and couldn’t see the point.  The class focused on case studies of people who didn’t go along, who acted inappropriately or were poor leaders, or so it seemed. I recall one case where “Sally” the secretary didn’t get along with the staff and we were asked to come up with solutions.  My naïve solution was to fire her.

Now I know better – it’s about helping individuals govern themselves.

Fast forward 30+ years and I realize the class I hated turned out to be one of the most important.  Working in HR, or as an organizational development specialist I know that you wear many hats!

You are a consultant, planner, manager, and coach and it’s your job to increase efficiency and productivity. You are also likely required to ensure your employees have the necessary skills to successfully work together, to communicate appropriately, to solve problems where emotions might be running high, and to handle stress.

Your ideal employee likely is emotionally intelligent and can govern themselves accordingly.  But what if they’re not, and they need help?

Flavour of the Day

In your position, you’ve seen it all. There are many assessments, programs, and courses that offer you the training you need to help your employees operate professionally. However, no matter what you’ve done, it comes down to the individual employee and their suite of skills.

We know that emotional intelligence (EI) has been around for a long time and has been linked to personal and professional success.

We also know that there is a tremendous body of research that not only looks at overall EI as it relates to workplace performance and leadership success, but how different emotional skills can be directly linked to the ability to collaborate, to communicate appropriately, to cope with stress, and to make realistic timely decisions. This can also be related to specific careers.

So What?

Emotional intelligence is not the flavour of the day, rather it arises from 40 years of research and can be measured and enhanced.

While the concept has been around for a century, it was further developed in the 1980s by Reuven Bar-On, a psychologist who found there to be a strong link between emotional functioning and success.  Daniel Goleman later popularized the concept and it is now widely used to explore the relationship between skills such stress tolerance, problems solving, impulse control and personal and professional success.

I’ve seen it firsthand. Janice Gair and I have worked with many organizations where the employees have gone through hours of training, but those hours have not come to fruition.  It wasn’t until those employees focused on their own emotional skills and behaviours, and made concerted efforts to develop, that they saw real change with positive outcomes.

As an HR or OD professional, you are responsible for providing opportunities to help your employees develop their skills for their own benefits and for your organizations’. The first step is to help your employees help themselves. And I’m here to help you do that.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

How do you help your employees understand the relationships between their emotions and their behaviours, and how those behaviours result in outcomes, both good and bad?  You likely deal with a range of people who all conduct themselves differently.

I worked with a supervisor who was highly empathic, which was great. While she felt bad having to discipline her direct reports, she knew what they needed, and they knew she had good intentions and were motivated by her help.

On a negative note, I’ve also worked with leaders who couldn’t express their vision for the future leaving their employees in the dark and not very motivated or optimistic about the future.  

Worst of all, I worked with a salesman who had very high self-regard and was assertive, and not in a good way! Customers weren’t buying from him because they found him to be arrogant and aggressive. 

Stories like these led me to write, Emotional Intelligence: Your Foundation for Success.

Your Manual for Success

In all cases, once I was able to help my client identify the source of the problem or friction, they were able to mindfully develop their emotional skills to overcome barriers that were holding them back. How can you do the same?

Emotional Intelligence: Your Foundation for Success explains why emotional intelligence is important in the workplace and provides 45 exercises that help people enhance their emotional skills, change their behaviour and to operate professionally. This guide can help you to help your employees improve their skills, develop their talents, increase productivity, and achieve success. 

Don’t miss your chance to meet Hayley and EI Advantage co-founder Janice Gair on October 1st by registering for our Meet the Author event! Sign up now to join us from anywhere.