Article: Building an emotionally intelligent workplace

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Building an emotionally intelligent workplace

When it comes to achieving this agenda, a number of insightful strategies have to be implemented that delve into the deeper questions of culture and purpose in order to truly sustain and scale up emotional intelligence at every level of the organisation.
Building an emotionally intelligent workplace

Organisations which invest in emotional intelligence tend to have the strategic skill-set of balancing both their people and business needs, especially when it comes to steering forward their growth plans. Although leadership has a defining role to play in this endeavour, emotional intelligence is one value that needs to be sustained and accelerated at every level of the organisation to build healthier, productive workplaces. To drive this discussion in what makes an intelligent workplace, People Matters in collaboration with KNOLSKAPE recently hosted a webcast with key panellists being Surya Prakash Mohapatra - Global head - Talent Transformation & Learning and Development at Wipro Digital Operations & Platform, Anne Soumya - Director HR at The Adecco Group, and Rajiv Jayaraman, Founder-CEO at KNOLSKAPE.

Here are some key takeaways from the discussion.

Defining an emotionally intelligent workplace:

In a professional setting as pointed out by Anne, emotional intelligence comes to light when a conflict arises. This conflict is hardly ever between right and wrong but between how two very different individuals define what is right. What then becomes important is to manage this conflict in a fashion that prioritises what is ultimately right for the organisation and this very process of conflict management and interpersonal communication is backed by emotional intelligence. 

For Surya, it’s a set of behaviours and opportunities implemented at the workplace which he spelled out, “An organisation where emotional intelligence is highly valued is one that builds a workplace where everyone's ideas are respected and valued, where collaboration happens naturally and spontaneously, where decisions are highly valued once you agree what is right for the organisation. One where colleagues celebrate each other's success, where stumbling blocks are removed quickly, because people come together and stand up for each other, where integrity is valued and finally, where human potential is continuously developed, because it creates a non threatening environment where human potential can thrive.” 

The need for emotional intelligence:

At the very start of the discussion, Rajiv raised an interesting thought. He said, “It's time to introduce emotional intelligence and well being in predominantly left brain organisations.” In the current context where a number of disruptions have been introduced into the business landscapes as a result of the pandemic, processes and functions have fundamentally changed. What’s more is that the lines between work and life have been blurred leading to heightened stress and anxiety.

In an increasingly digital environment, we’ve begun to realise that digital connection doesn’t always translate to human connection.

This is where the concept of organisational citizenship behaviour comes in and the necessity of its preservation. It’s a set of behaviours that are aligned with the larger work culture and helps build and sustain effectiveness of organisations. But in order to do so, virtual communication barriers have to be overcome and this is where emotional intelligence plays an important role in creating the right channels for communication and collaboration. Emotional Intelligence has also become a key competency when it comes to recruiting talent, in rewards & recognition policies and even in the trajectory of progression to leadership roles. 

This increasing presence and relevance of emotional intelligence is the reason why it needs to be measured in a holistic fashion taking account of physical, mental, financial and social wellness. An important question to ask concerns how organisations can leverage these findings in order to understand a highly unstable workforce against the backdrop of The Great Resignation. Soumya urges leaders to go one step further by detailing out the ROI of conducting such measurements and how a great score on emotional intelligence can lead to positive outcomes from a business standpoint. 

The role of leadership in scaling up emotional intelligence:

Culture-building is an important component in scaling and accelerating emotional intelligence at any workplace. To spearhead this, there’s no one better than those in leadership positions because they will not only enable a psychologically safe environment but will also become the role models that the workforce will aspire too when it comes to building competencies having to do with emotional intelligence.

Self-aware leaders are the ones who will help find that balance between employee and business needs while at the same time instil purpose among the workforce in carrying out their roles and responsibilities. 

The STAR model will also play its own role because it breaks down the process of solidifying emotional intelligence through stages by first starting out with a clear cut strategy followed by defining responsibilities and then moving into rewards and recognition. As brought up in the discussion earlier, such initiatives are not only impacted by the quest for emotional intelligence, it equally gives room for it to grow all the way from the grassroot level of the organisation.

From capability building programs that leverage storytelling and case studies to culture-building strategies that innovate opportunities to build and sustain emotional intelligence in a dynamic workplace, all of these are key steps that leaders need to account for. To reach a place where the priority becomes what’s right for the organisation as professionals actively communicate and collaborate is a process that requires a persistent effort. But when these investments are made, a magnificent change in not only productivity but also engagement will be witnessed. To catch up on this exciting discussion and gain access to more incredible insights, click here

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Topics: Culture, Strategic HR, #HRCommunity

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