What are the top skills employees need for career success? According to Forbes Magazine, the top five are soft skills (Peart, 2019). These are the ability to: learn, be resilient, adapt to change, to collaborate, and to communicate (verbal and written). And all these softs skills can be improved by developing emotional intelligence categories of skills: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management.
A friend of mine called and asked my advice. He was extremely disappointed in his recent performance review. Over the past 12 months his workload increased significantly and many of the responsibilities were beyond his job description. Still, he accomplished all the work he was assigned.
Despite this, his annual bonus was smaller than expected and he was about to lose almost two weeks of earned time off because of company end-of-year policy and because the increased workload prevented him from taking it.
He sent me a draft email to review. The email was addressed to his boss the COO and also the CEO. The email described how disappointed he was and why. He listed all his grievances including the increased workload, increased responsibilities, poor rating in his performance review, lower bonus than expected and lost vacation time. It was very emotional. In summary he wrote, “I’ve been mistreated, and I wanted you to know!”
I asked him what he hoped to accomplish with this email. He responded, “I just want to feel heard.” I asked him, “How he will you know you are being heard if you send this email? You won’t be able to see their reactions when they read it.” I offered another option. I explained, “In my experience, sending an emotional email rarely if ever generates the results one expects.”
I suggested he instead make a list his reactions and why he has them (the data). I then suggested he make a list of items (actions) he wanted. For example, an increase in bonus and/or restoration of vacation days. I suggested he deliver this in person or in a Zoom meeting and to use a calm tone of voice. If he did it this way, he could assess their reactions and determine if they were hearing him.
He took my advice. He had most of his vacation days restored and received a small increase in bonus. Emotional intelligence skills provide better options on “how” to deliver messages in difficult situations. EI provides a set of skills to influence others respectfully to ask for and get what you want or need. Aristotle once said, “Anyone can become angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way – this is not easy.” These skills provide enormous benefits for both the individual employee and their organizations and, thanks to Aristotle, we have been aware of them for at least 2,400 years.
For the individual, the benefits include a reduction in unhealthy stress, an improvement in personal brand image (reputation), an improvement in trust, stronger working relationships, improved teamwork, and a boost in cooperation. For the organization, the benefits include improved productivity, reduced turnover, improved flow of communication, and improved financial results (Talent Smart, 2020).
Other research appearing in LinkedIn’s Yearly Report, confirms that emotional intelligence skills improve an organization’s employees’ ability to deal with change, and the ability to deal with conflict (Talent Smart, 2020). EI skill development leads to improved employee engagement and customer experience.
In 2019, 74% of organizations conducted an annual employee engagement survey (Wiles, 2020). What if your organization could provide new options for employees to develop their emotional intelligence skills and connect it to the improvement of the annual engagement survey? What if every employee could see how they can influence engagement by developing their EI skills? What if every employee had an action plan to help leadership improve the engagement climate?
Do your employees know and appreciate the four categories of emotional intelligence skills and the 12 individual skills within those categories? Do each of your employees continuously improve these skills to achieve greater career success? What if there was a “Rapid Learning” event to help them?
Check out Emotional Intelligence: The Secret Skill of Influence. These skills helped my friend to influence his COO and CEO to restore his brand image and gain back his lost benefits.
Peart, N. (2019, September 10). The 12 Most Important Skills You Need To Succeed At Work.
Talent Smart. (2020, December 16). Better EQ, Better Performance. Talent Smart Blog.
Wiles, J. (2020, August 22). 9 Questions That Should Be in Every Employee Engagement Survey.
Dr. Wally Hauck is a senior vice president and co-owner of Communico. He is the author of Art of Leading: 3 Principles for Predictable Performance Improvement, Stop the Leadership Malpractice: How to Replace the Typical Performance Appraisal, Unleash Employee Engagement: 7 Initial Conditions for Outstanding Results