Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bringing Emotional Intelligence to the Workplace

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Emotional Intelligence is the ability to use your emotions in a positive and constructive way in relationships with others. It's about engaging with others in a way that brings people towards you, not away from you. Emotional Intelligence is about recognizing your own emotional state and the emotional states of others and being “choiceful” about how you interact and engage with them. It is about choosing to engage people in a positive and constructive manner, and it can help tremendously in the workplace.

E.I. Personality

Emotional Intelligence is divided into 4 basic competencies. Each competency has several skills or personality traits.

1. Self Awareness

This is recognizing how emotions affect one's performance. It requires an accurate self assessment, a candid sense of one's personal strengths and limits and then being able to accurately identify one's own areas of improvement. Self-aware individuals are reflective and learn from experience. They are open to candid feedback, new perspectives and self-development.

2. Self Management

This is the ability to manage one's internal states, impulses, and resources. It means being choiceful in interactions with others and the ability to manage or control reactions to difficult situations. Personality traits include self control, trustworthiness, conscientiousness, adaptability, innovation and optimism.

3. Awareness of Others (Social Awareness)

This is the awareness of other people's feelings, needs, and concerns. It means having empathy, seeking to understand others and being able to read and tune in to the emotional state of others. Social awareness skills include understanding others, developing others, service orientation, leveraging diversity and having political awareness.

4. Relationship Management

This competency is about successfully engaging with others. It includes the ability to communicate, relate and listen well to others and to induce desirable responses in them. People with this ability understand that emotions are contagious. They can adapt their communication styles to people and situations.

EI in the Workplace

Emotional Intelligence is extremely useful at work. Most workplaces rely on different people working together to create a product or service. The workplace is not “all business.” It is a social network and, as such, it is a hotbed of emotions, egos, stress and conflict. Emotional Intelligence can help you develop robust relationships, solve problems using both logic and feelings, maintain an optimistic and positive outlook, cultivate flexibility in stressful situations, help others express their needs, respond to difficult people and situations calmly and thoughtfully and respond to change with grace and calm.

Many people assume that a high IQ is more important than high EI skills. While both are important, many studies show that EI is a much more accurate determinant for success and career growth than technical skills or a high IQ. Today's workplaces are fast moving and full of change. The ability to roll with the punches is huge. You'll get the best out of your employees if you create an emotionally intelligent workplace and you'll be a better employer or leader if you use your EI.

Emotional Intelligence really comes into play when it comes to managing and dealing with difficult people, including customers, employees, colleagues, and bosses. Your ability to understand and empathize goes a long way. EI is important for managing change, understanding the political landscape for a new project, dealing well with setbacks or workplace obstacles, motivating and influencing others and working with or for a team with different personalities.

Some people are born with natural EI sills. In certain fields, EI goes hand in hand with success, like sales. Some people are natural born salesmen. Many companies actually use EI competency testing as criteria for selection into highly engaging positions like sales. A recent survey showed that companies that selected their sales people by using EI competency criteria decreased their first year turnover rate by a whopping 63 percent.

But EI can also be taught and many companies hire consultants like me to host workshops to train employees on emotional intelligence. If companies are truly committed to creating a positive workplace, this can be a great way to start.

EI works on the self-employed as well. First of all, very few people actually work “alone.” Even if you are a sole task producer you still have to create something for a customer and client, so your ability to manage your relationships, even if it is just one or two, is pretty important. And you still have to manage yourself. Your state of mind will absolutely affect your work product. Being able to manage your own emotional landscape will definitely help improve your work product and process.

How Employers Can Use EI

Employers and managers should think about what kind of climate will get the best out of their employees. It always makes me cringe when I see leaders use oppressive tactics to drive performance. It really isn't a successful long-term strategy, especially if you hit hard economic times. A person's relationship with their employer is and has always been a leading factor in an employee's decision to stay or go, and contributes greatly to their productivity.

So if you want to improve your image as a leader, get feedback and be willing to make improvements in yourself and your management style. And remember, being emotionally intelligent is not about “being soft” or forgoing the bottom line. It's about creating and maintaining constructive and generative relationships and environments, and that helps your bottom line.

EI is critical for top leaders. In fact, the higher your position in a company, the more important emotional intelligence becomes. According to the Center for Creative Leadership, the biggest reason that managers fail is because of poor interpersonal skills. Another survey showed that 85 percent of the difference between a good leader and an excellent leader is emotional intelligence.

You can easily see this when you ask people what qualities they think make a great leader or boss. Eighty-five percent of the qualities they name are usually EI qualities while only a handful turns out to be technical skills. EI is critical for a good leader.

More info:

Employers are always looking for people who are not only book smart, but are also charismatic, optimistic and resilient. They want people who are not afraid to use emotional intelligence to get ahead. Find out where you stand so you can use your EI to get ahead. Whether you are an employee, a boss, a manager or are self-employed, EI is a critical component of your success.

To find out more about EI and how to measure it, take a look at 

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Creating an effective recruiting and retention strategy

The key to creating an effective recruiting and retention strategy is to determine the root causes of why people join a company and stay/leave subsequently. 
When joining a company, a candidate typically considers several factors including: 
• Pay
• Benefits
• Location
• Advancement possibilities
• Job security
• Nature of work
• Personal/family commitments 
• The nature of the working environment

Whether an employee stays or leaves will depend on several factors including: 

• Confidence in leadership
• Whether they feel they are contributing, recognized, appreciated and heard
• Whether they feel management is keeping their promises / commitments Based on the above, here is a good starting point for creating an effective recruitment and retention strategy: • Offer fair and competitive salaries
• Offer competitive benefits
• Train front-line managers on good supervisory and people management skills
• Clearly define roles and responsibilities
• Provide adequate advancement opportunities
• Offer retention bonuses instead of sign-on bonuses
• Measure your turnover rate and assign someone responsible/accountable for retention
• Conduct employee satisfaction surveys
• Foster an environment of teamwork
• Make room for fun
• Work with your staff to develop a department mission statement they identify with and own
• Identify employee talents and encourage them to fully utilize it and stretch into new areas
• Communicate oOpenly
• Encourage on-going learning
• Be flexible and accommodating
• Create an employee recognition program

(Note: the above proposed strategies would need to be customized based on the unique needs of any organization).  

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Training Day Checklist

Training Day Checklist
Here’s a handy last-minute checklist to make sure everything is ready for your training session: Dress appropriately. Use your audience analysis to figure out what to wear. In general, match your manner of dress to that of your trainees—or go slightly more professional.Arrive early. Give yourself time to check last-minute arrangements and get yourself mentally geared up for the session.Check seating arrangements. Make sure the set-up is ideal for the training style you want to use and have some extra chairs for any last-minute trainees.Check room temperature. Adjust it appropriately for the number of people who will be in the room and the size of the space you will all be occupying.Check audiovisual hardware. Conduct one last run-through to make sure everything is still running smoothly.Check electrical outlets. Make sure all your connections are safe. Don’t trail cords across walkways or overload surge protector strips.
Check light switches. Know which switches work which lights so you can achieve the ideal lighting for audiovisual materials and note-taking.
Check window-darkening equipment. Make sure blinds or shades are working properly.
Check arrangements. Make sure you have everything you need—including the training space for the entire time you need it.
Lay out classroom supplies. If you will be demonstrating tools or equipment, make sure you have everything you need.
Lay out course materials. Decide whether to put handouts on a table for trainees to pick up on the way in or to lay them at every seat.

These are all effective techniques for running a successful session, but what kind of person does it take to do the training? The best trainers have several qualities that make them good at what they do. Check the list below to see which qualities you already possess—and to determine which areas you could improve.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

5 Basic Principles for a Collaborative Workplace

There are tons of books written about creating a collaborative environment in the workplace but they all can be summarized with these 5 principles:  Focus on the situation, issue, or behavior, not the person.
Maintain the self-confidence and self-esteem of others.
Maintain constructive relationships.
Take initiative to make things better.
Lead by example.

Try these principles and see if that makes a difference in your work environment.

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Mapping Informal and Formal Learning Strategies to Real Work

During the Q&A at a recent conference session on Social Learning a retail industry attendee asked: “I have to train 300 store level associates in new product knowledge in the next three months.  Is social learning really what I want?” What would your answer be?

I advocate informal and social learning vehicles when appropriate and get as excited about their uses as you likely do, but it’s not a panacea for all our learning woes.  The current zeal around social learning solutions can distract from real performance needs (we’ve been distracted before).  Social learning gets positioned as the enlightened and “correct” solution for the modern workplace. Formal learning is old, tired, and reluctantly tolerated for the vestiges of the traditional, mechanistic workplace.

But, set aside your biases one way or the other for the moment and simply think of the roles and functions you support in your organization.  It will vary by industry of course, but your list is going to be some subset of the following:

..Please visit my new blog Performance X Design to read the remainder of this post and others.

Note: The Gram Consulting blog has been discontinued. I post blog introductions here to encourage former Gram Consulting readers to visit the new blog. All the Gram Consulting content, plus a bunch of new posts are on the new blog. Please come on over…

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Evaluating with the Success Case Method

In my last post I mentioned that I prefer the Success Case Method for evaluating learning (and other) interventions to the Kirkpatrick approach. A few readers contacted me asking for information on the method and why I prefer it. Here’s a bit of both.

The method was developed by Robert Brinkerhoff as an alternative (or supplement) to the Kirkpatrick approach and its derivatives. It is very simple and fast (which is part of it’s appeal) and goes something like this:…

…Please visit my new blog Performance X Design to read the remainder of this post and others.

Note:  The Gram Consulting blog has been discontinued…I post blog introductions here  to encourage Gram Consulting readers to visit the new blog.   Please come on over…

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Friday, July 19, 2013