5 November 2014

How to handle tough situations with emotional intelligence

Workplace stress is a big cause of absenteeism. Excessive stress can interfere with productivity, impact upon physical and emotional health, and generally cause employees to under perform. As such, the ability to deal with stress can mean the difference between success and failure.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) found that 15 million working days in the UK were lost to stress last year, in its report on Sickness Absence in the Labour Market. This is why it’s important for managers to make sure they understand what the causes of stress are and to respond in a positive way. This kind of insight requires a high degree of emotional intelligence (EI).

Daniel Goleman, in his book Working with Emotional Intelligence, says that EI is 'the capacity for recognising our own feelings and those of others'. Some experts even suggest that it can be more important than IQ.

Dr Travis Bradberry, co-author of the bestselling book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, says that unlike IQ, EI can be 'acquired and improved with practice'.

Emotional intelligence affects professional performance

According to Dr Bradberry, EI is the 'single biggest predictor of performance in the workplace and the strongest driver of leadership and personal excellence'.

TalentSmart, a global provider of EI training used by 75% of the Fortune 500 companies, found that emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance in 58% of all types of jobs.

Responding to other people’s difficult situations with empathy and intelligence is a very important skill, especially for managers in the workplace. According to the Association for Talent Development (ASTD) EI consists of five components: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. Developing EI skills can help you to deal with your own stress levels at work, but also help colleagues and employees handle stressful situations and work-related conflict.

Here are 7 ways that managers can lead with emotional intelligence and help employees to become more productive:

1. Increase your self-awareness
Good leaders recognise their own shortcomings and constantly strive to improve themselves. By being aware of your own faults and trying to overcome them you will lead by example and encourage your employees to do the same.

2. Be a good listener
Great managers are aware of the importance of listening. If your employees know that you will listen to them then they are more likely to share ideas and problems. Creating a culture where people are heard will help everyone to develop listening skills and greater levels of EI.

3. Accept differences
A good leader recognises differences in personalities and accepts people for who they are. Extroverts and introverts can both be valuable employees, but need to be managed in different ways.

4. Show an interest in your staff
Being genuinely interested in your employees will go a long way towards making them feel valued and appreciated. Take time to talk to your staff and find out about what’s important to them. Learn about their families and what they like to do outside of work. If your employees feel like you care about them they will be more engaged in the workplace.

5. Admit when you’re wrong
Leaders with high levels of emotional intelligence are able to admit when they’re wrong. Owning mistakes shows employees that you’re trustworthy and honest. A manager who refuses to admit when he or she is wrong will quickly lose the respect of their staff.

6. Resolve conflicts sensitively
Managing workplace conflicts successfully depends on your ability to remain calm, control your own emotions and understand the feelings of those involved. By creating good relationships with your staff in the first place, you’re more likely to understand what problems lie behind disagreements in the office.

7. Understand people’s needs
People have different needs, so it’s important to understand what motivates each of your employees. Some people are very competitive and target driven, while others enjoy feeling like they’re part of a bigger mission. By getting to know your team’s different needs, you’ll be able get the most out of everyone and create a good atmosphere in the workplace.

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