I read a newspaper article today commenting on how employers are currently seeking and recruiting for staff who have ‘likeability’ as well as technical ability in their field. The description of traits linked to ‘likeability’ fell very much into the domain of what Daniel Goleman labelled Emotional Intelligence in his 1994 book of the same name. Goleman had the same conclusion as the newspaper article; organisations want employees who get on with others, have a positive approach, are good to be around and get the job done. Good social skills, empathy for others and a level of self-awareness are important traits for developing and maintaining effective relationships in and out of work.
Recently we have been working with a couple of organisations on projects to develop staff awareness and skills in Emotional Intelligence, to build workplaces where people are engaged and where performance is high. As part of this work we have heard many stories from employees about people at all levels who displayed a lack of emotional intelligence, resulting in lower morale and productivity for those working with them. Some of the behaviours people disliked included:
- Managers and staff with large mood swings so people feel like they are ‘walking on eggshells’. “From one day to the next you never know whether to approach them or not and what kind of reception you will get, so you end up avoiding them” was one comment.
- Shouting and aggressive behaviour.
- Managers giving feedback in front of the other team members or in a public place. “The manager corrected me in front of a customer and I was humiliated” said one person. It made her not want to work with customers or the manager again.
- People who don’t interact with others or participate in the social niceties of the office such as not saying good day or hello and acknowledging others. Many of us have parents or guardians who would call this a lack of manners!
- Team members who don’t do their fair share either in the work of the team or in office protocols. “We have one person here who never washes up their cup and plates, leaves them in the office sink and expects everyone else to do it. They get annoyed when we ask them to take their turn, so we end up not asking them and being resentful!” was one example of this.
- People who are negative about most things. “This person is cynical about almost everything that happens and it is depressing and tiring to be around them,” commented one team member.
On the positive side, the following examples of good use of emotional intelligence were provided: