An Emotionally Intelligent Workplace Culture: Is It For You?By: Susan Dunn
The Center for Creative Leadership has stated that 75% of careers are derailed for reasons related to emotional competencies, including “inability to handle interpersonal problems; unsatisfactory team leadership during times of difficulty or conflict; or inability to adapt to change or elicit trust.”
If emotional intelligence is this important to the functioning of an individual, what would happen if you established a workplace culture of emotional intelligence?
A Business Culture … a Soul
What is the culture of an organization?
And what is it not? “Your products and services … promoted externally … your policies and procedures … your recruiting process … what behaviors you want.”
You’ll see within these definitions, intentionality - a high-level emotional intelligence competency.
It means saying what you mean and meaning what you say, staying focused until a goal is achieved, and being accountable to yourself for your motives.
Daily I talk with clients who’ve left a company because of its culture. Here are some examples:
Retention of good employees is a major concern of any organization. “[Businesses] worry about their production schedules, their deadlines, their competition, and their financing,” says Gallagher, "but they rarely look inward at themselves." That's why most people, when asked, can't define their workplace culture. But this intangible, once thought of as ^soft^, "may be perhaps the most important factor in the growth and survival of any business," according to Gallagher. "Understand this fact, and you can reach levels of success that are unimaginable for most people."
How do You Instill a Culture
As children, we learn our culture from our parents and elders. We learn what we observe more than what we’re told. If your mother tells you to clean your teeth every day, but you don’t see her doing it, you learn to do it only as long as you’re being watched. If your father tells you not to lie, and then you hear him talking about cheating on his income tax, you learn that it’s circumstantial, or that adults can lie, but children can’t, or you learn that your father‘s a hypocrite, and you lose respect for him and quit listening.
Then when we go to school, we learn that culture. I moved every couple of years growing up. I transferred in the middle of 6th grade. In the new school, as soon as the teacher left the room, everyone cheated. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I transferred again for 9th grade. In the new high school, there was “the honor code,“ and I watched to see what happened. No one cheated! Not on tests, not on homework. The difference? Social pressure, expectations, ingrained habit … whatever it is, it works. In situation A, everyone cheated. In situation B, no one did.
An EQ Culture
How would you instill a culture of emotional intelligence? A culture where creativity, flexibility, intentionality, interpersonal skills, empathy, intuition and respect are valued as well as cognitive intelligence, expertise, and special skills?
It starts with information and education. Courses such as The EQ Foundation Course©, available on the Internet, offer every employee a background in emotional intelligence and a common working vocabulary. Assessments, such as the EQ-Map™ can assess the competencies of individuals, and individual coaching can address deficits. A weekly ezine, such as “EQ in the Workplace©” can reinforce learning and immersion. Modeling by key leaders is vital. EQ for Professionals©, on the Internet, helps managers, coaches, trainers and other supervising personnel understand concepts and how to foster them in others.
In addition, individuals learning new EQ skills need a chance to practice these competencies in real-life situations. The EQ Foundation Course© is interactive and is well combined with personal coaching which allows ongoing supportive feedback. Weekly teleconferences or meetings can also allow process learning.
Intentionality takes maturity and effort. Changing a culture isn’t easy. It takes dedication, information, practice, and consistency. Actions speak louder and last longer than words. As someone said, re: managers, “you’re being watched.” The company culture is reflected in:
Take an inward look at your organization. What values and beliefs are reflected? What’s your style? What types of people work there? What kinds of behavior are rewarded?
If you like what you see, great. If not, there’s a way to change it, and changing it can definitely affect your bottom line. If you look at what companies succeed and what don’t, you might agree with Gallagher that the company culture is “the most important factor in the growth and survival of any business.”
Recommended reading: "The Soul of an Organization: Understanding the Values that Drive Sucessful Corporate Cultures," by Richard S. Gallagher.
© copyright, Susan Dunn, 2003
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