"Practicing emotional intelligence in the workplace isn’t always easy, but it is worth it. You’ll find that when employees don’t just think—but also know—you care about them, they’ll care about the company a lot more in return. They’ll be willing to invest their time and themselves in it, and you’ll enjoy loyalty like you never knew before."
April 19, 2022
by Star Building Systems
In the construction business, we don’t talk much about emotional IQ – also known as the emotional quotient or “EQ” – but it’s high time we did. At Star, we believe it applies to all of us, and today we’re going to help you understand why it does – and how it can improve your business. Great leaders in every line of work have high emotional intelligence. But what does that mean?
Why can’t people just do their jobs as told, leave their personal issues out of it, show up without ulterior motives, career dreams or insecurities and just do precisely what’s expected of them? While you might sometimes think we’d be better off if people operated like programs on a computer, luckily for all of us, that’s not the case.
People are human, and that’s why we love them. It’s why we choose to go to lunch or after-work events with them instead of a bunch of algorithms. It’s why we choose them in rough times instead of crying on a computer’s shoulder. For all they do well, programs aren’t great at relating, having brilliant new ideas or making us feel like we’re cared about and have a place in this world.
That also means that we can’t treat our people like programs. We have to treat them like the fallible, wonderful humans they are. People are likely carrying many more burdens than we’re aware of, and they need our understanding, support and encouragement.
With some of your employees, you probably notice what appear to be negative habits or attitudes. However, with some heightened emotional intelligence, you might be able to see through these to what lies beneath. Experts in the field of emotional intelligence talk about “invisible signs” everyone has hanging from their necks: “I’m burned out”, “Please notice me”, “I don’t fit in.” The oldest and most common is, “Make me feel important.” Everyone wants to feel valued and needed, like their job and input matter. And, of course, they do matter. But we’re often too busy or preoccupied to make them feel that way.
Try to picture these signs and see what might be written on them, and how problematic personalities might simply be misguided projections of these messages. Getting the hang of this will help make you a high-EQ leader.
• Irritability • Frustration • Venomous Comments or Insults • Outbursts
Highly driven people often feel they should get promoted more frequently or faster than reality allows. They’re in the habit of measuring themselves and their career progress in relation to everyone else. Of course, compared to everyone, they’re never doing as well as they think they should.
Have honest career talks with them. Try not to be vague. Give them real milestones and goals so they know what it really takes to get promoted. Resist the urge to invent a new title to temporarily satisfy them. This can become an addiction.
• Withdrawn • Not mentally present • Distracted
Life stressors can eat people up inside – without us knowing what’s going on in their lives. There might be a serious illness in the family, a divorce in the works, trouble with kids, addiction, alcoholism, or a long list of other issues. Though you might rather them keep it at home, the reality is people can’t help but bring this to work.
Set aside time in private to ask how they’re doing. Don’t pry, but do offer support and understanding and assure them you’re willing to help in any way you can.
• Stressed • Exhausted • Frustrated • Irritable • Unprepared
We often tend to overload our best employees, because no one can do it as well as they can. Unfortunately, this means their performance is rewarded with more work.
Act quickly. You don’t want to burn out your top performers. Have a frank conversation about where the overload is coming from them. Is it you or their own, possibly perfectionistic expectations? How can you prioritize or delegate together?
Crestfallen • Shy • Discouraged • Giving up • Powerlessness
We all have embarrassing failures now and then. We flub a presentation or pitch, make an obvious mistake, or just otherwise choke. If you don’t address it quickly, the loss of confidence can spiral downwards.
Remind them that we’ve all suffered temporary screwups, but it isn’t failing unless you quit, don’t improve, or don’t try at all. Convince them that you’re rooting for them.
•Reserved • Guarded • Not interacting • Not taking initiative • Flustered
In a recent poll, a staggering 93% of employees felt they’d received a major blow to their confidence due to something that happened at work. This self-doubt can be a self-feeding, vicious cycle.
Work to build their confidence, help them see their strengths. Encourage them not to compare themselves to others, but instead to compare who they are today to who they were in the past. Are they growing? How can they continue to grow?
Sitting alone at work gatherings • Seeming isolated • Complaints about a single employee
Strong cultures can be positive for morale and teambuilding, but they can also make newcomers feel excluded.
Do what you can to help this person feel welcomed, include them in gatherings and important meetings, try to break the ice between them and longer-tenured employees. Also, don’t mistake this for the personality of someone who simply prefers to be on their own.
• Timidness • Bashfulness • Overblown modesty • Sheepishness • Deference
Imposter syndrome is very common. Lacking the rites of passage our culture used to have, young people often feel as if they landed a job or position they aren’t qualified for.
Assure them they’re the right fit, you believe in them and have their back. Offer coaching, resources or training that might make them even better.
• Lets opportunities slide by • Plateaued • Flies Under the Radar
Humans tend to follow the path of least resistance. This often also means the path of least risk, least growth and least pain – which can lead to stagnation and boredom.
If you can crack their code and find the right opportunities for them to grow and stretch, this can reignite their interest and passion – and they’ll be thankful for it.
Being mindful of these invisible signs will help you boost your EQ. However, it’s not foolproof. Remember it’s still possible to be wrong about such assumptions. Instead of assuming someone is feeling insecure and pursuing the appropriate fix, we encourage you to try the oldest EQ trick: ask questions.
You might assume one of your people is feeling insecure, but when you try to address it, you find one she was actually feeling exuberantly confident in her career, and what looked like insecurity was, in fact, sadness about the loss of a pet. Now, she does feel insecure – because you thought she was.
Don’t be afraid to ask open-ended questions and make time for the answers. As long as the questions are rooted in authentic interest, they will bond you to people, make them feel valued and important, and build rapport. They’ll uncover what’s actually under the surface and are a sign to your people that you’re engaged, that you’re listening, and that you truly care about them.
Practicing emotional intelligence in the workplace isn’t always easy, but it is worth it. You’ll find that when employees don’t just think—but also know—you care about them, they’ll care about the company a lot more in return. They’ll be willing to invest their time and themselves in it, and you’ll enjoy loyalty like you never knew before.
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