Emotional Intelligence: Why does it make the difference?
Why is Emotional Intelligence important at work? In this article we explain how it impacts job performance, productivity, work satisfaction and work environment + 4 keys to put Emotional Intelligence into practice
“Some time ago, in a previous work experience, I was attacked by a dog and ended up pretty injured. After some of my teammates helped me cover the wound, they allowed me to take the rest of the day off and go to the hospital. The trip lasted more than an hour and a half, which I did with my knee bleeding; I remembered a passenger offered me his seat when he saw it. Then, the doctor gave me medical leave for a couple of weeks to recover from the wound that ended up being very deep.
When I started working at Onetree, I was surprised by the culture of closeness between leaders and collaborators. Once, we were at the office and I started feeling sick. I told my leader, Emanuel Jofré, Implementation Team Lead in our team, who without hesitation came with me to the nearest hospital, he waited until the doctor saw me and we came back chatting, which I really appreciated. I find this anecdote interesting because it shows how empathy and emotional intelligence can make the difference”,
says Martín Fernández, Tech Implementation Analyst in our team.
This experience motivated Martín to propose to write about emotional intelligence at work in our blog, which made us reflect about different things: What is emotional intelligence? Why is it important? How does it relate with job performance and productivity? These are some of the questions we aim to answer in this article after some investigation.
Emotional intelligence is an ability that allows people to identify and manage their feelings, as well as to interpret and deal with others’ feelings. It also enables them to be efficient in and feel satisfied with the activities they develop; as well as to create mental habits that favor productivity and job performance (Araujo y Leal, 2007 in Carmona, Vargas and Rosas, 2015). It refers to the ability to perceive, evaluate and express emotions as well as to regulate them and use them effectively to achieve personal and social goals. Goleman (1998) defines it as the capacity to recognize feelings in ourselves and others, being able to motivate them to work with others; while Nava (2006) explains it as the aptness to understand a group’s emotions and conduct them towards a positive result.
Why is it important at the workplace?
According to Gardner -who proposed the model of multiple intelligences in which Emotional Intelligence is included – it is the base for the development of an efficient behavior, that applied to companies, positively influences the organization’s results. It is frequent to see in some people that even though they have a high intelligence quotient, if they have low emotional intelligence, their work is affected (Carmona, Vargas and Rosas, 2015). For example, if someone does not manage their frustration for failing to complete a task, if they have no tools to process that feeling, understand it and find resources to stay motivated, they may leave it undone or continue doing it less focused, tired or distracted by the frustration. The way collaborators feel (and manage those feelings), how they interact with coworkers and clients when working together directly impacts results, productivity, and to what extent are objectives achieved. Goleman says that nowadays the competition is not between products to offer but between the efficiency of human capital (Carmona, Vargas and Rosas, 2015). In order to reinforce competitiveness and stay in the market in an optimal way, organizations need to prioritize some aspects related to client service, the approach of teamwork, the development of creativity, the importance of leadership, among others that emotional intelligence impacts directly (Magallanes Correa, 2021).
Emotional Intelligence determines how people interact with each other and how they manage to achieve objectives. Some specific ways in which emotional intelligence can be useful at work include:
- Improvement of interpersonal relationships: It helps people understand and manage emotions from ourselves and others, which can improve communication and collaboration at the workplace.
- Conflict resolution: Emotional abilities can help people effectively comprehend and manage conflicts when working.
- Decision making: It allows people to evaluate and regulate their own emotions to make more informed and balanced decisions.
- Improvement in wellness and motivation: It can help people manage their stress and maintain a positive attitude towards work.
In addition to this, Emotional Intelligence also impacts people’s satisfaction with their jobs -thus a better predisposition to strengthen their commitment with the organization- and work environment. The atmosphere is modified by the result of the combination of the emotional structures of the company’s members (Carmona, Vargas and Rosas, 2015). To sum up, it contributes to creating a positive, productive, and harmonious work environment.
What do we do in Onetree to promote the development of Emotional Intelligence among our collaborators?
- The vast majority of us work remotely, so the Human Resources department arranges monthly gatherings named Office days to work together at the office and share a tasty breakfast, lunch or an enjoyable after-office meeting. This gives us an opportunity to interact and empathize with each other.
- In the Implementation team, we have a weekly practice of selecting an important and interesting topic for the development of our knowledge and at least one employee has to prepare and give a presentation for the rest of the team. This way, we enhance our communication and organizational skills, as well as teamwork and interaction as we learn from each other.
- Human Resources survey tools:
- Survey of work satisfaction: The department sends an annual survey to all collaborators to evaluate how satisfied they are with different aspects, collects feedback and then shares it with the company in the corresponding quarter of the year.
- Self-evaluation of job performance: HR sends an annual survey to all collaborators for them to evaluate themselves over several items and also leaves space to write feedback for themselves.
- Leader’s evaluations of job performance: HR sends surveys to all collaborators for them to evaluate their team members over several items and leaves space to write feedback for them.
- These are instances of reflection and analysis of how one is feeling and performing at work. It is also a moment to be self-critic and to accept constructive criticism, as well as to value the positive aspects, in order to pursue our strengths and keep improving on our weaknesses. Of course, some collaborators will take advantage of these tools more than others, depending on how committed they are to them and on their personal psychological tools and resources.
“At Onetree we care that our team has many communication channels open and available, in order to be listened to, exchange ideas, to have those needed spaces to make a difference and feel they belong. We take care of being close, in spire of working remotely, we prioritize people and their needs” says Mariasol Elizalde, Head of Human Resources in our crew.
4 keys to put Emotional Intelligence into practice at work
- Recognize your emotions: Try to identify how you feel, put a name to it. Some ways of achieving it may be talking to someone else, writing, drawing or talking to yourself about how you are feeling to elucidate what you are feeling.
- Understand your emotions: Ask questions to yourself. Why are you feeling that way? What caused those emotions? Which of those causes have to do with the external situation and which have to do with your internal self? Maybe even relate them to your work. How do those emotions affect how you feel with your job? How do they affect your job performance, your relationship with your teammates, your job satisfaction or other factors you may think of? Try to answer these questions.
- Take action: Think about how you can process those feelings and do something positive with them. Can you talk to someone at work to solve something? Can somebody help you? Can you help someone else? Can the situation change? If it cannot, what can you do to stand it or deal with it? Are there any tools or resources that may help you get through it?
- Doing our share or putting our part, being self-critic, listening to others with openness, having the willingness to solve situations and grow as a person, knowing to cede as well as to speak up are important and helpful.
All in all, we know there are different abilities put into practice at work and that impact job performance, job satisfaction, work environment, the achievement of objectives, success and growth (as a person and as a worker). However, we believe Emotional Intelligence plays an important role in them. Most of all, we believe it directly impacts our culture and atmosphere. Understanding its importance is part of our identity, related to our characteristic of being humane. This is why we try to promote its development internally and share some keys that may help you too.
Carmona, P., Vargas, J., & Rosas, R. (2015, june). Influencia de la inteligencia emocional en el desempeño laboral. Redalyc. Recovered: 21, january 2023, from https://www.redalyc.org/pdf/5530/553056601004.pdf
Magallanes Correa. (2021, 25 november). Inteligencia Emocional y su Influencia en el Ámbito Laboral. Portal América. Recovered: 24, february, 2023, from http://portal.amelica.org/ameli/journal/480/4802861020/4802861020.pdf
Solano Lopez, A. (2013). Inteligencia Emocional en el trabajo: Sus implicancias y el rol de la psicología laboral. Dialnet, ISSN: 1659-1852. https://dialnet.unirioja.es/descarga/articulo/4348160.pdf