Posts Tagged ‘Workplace Productivity’

Avoiding Career Derailment with Improved Social & Emotional Intelligence

A recent Right Management survey about leaders and the competencies that most impact their success reveals the importance of developing social + emotional intelligence for individuals throughout the organization, and especially at the top.

The survey results indicate that the number one factor contributing to the failure of senior leaders is the inability to build relationships and a team environment. In fact, 40.2% of leadership turnover was attributed to this one derailer.

This is significant.

It is also preventable.

Increasing an individual’s social + emotional intelligence in the competency areas of building bonds, building trust, and teamwork/collaboration goes a long way to ensuring the organization’s investment in talent pays real, measurable dividends by averting unnecessary leadership turnover and growing employee engagement and commitment.

HR professionals who add social + emotional intelligence training as a key component of their leadership on-boarding and continuing development program create a competitive advantage for their organization and contribute to business transformation in their industry.

Need some proof? Sanofi-Aventis Pharmaceutical Company increased the organization’s emotional intelligence by 18% and saw a 600% ROI (Cherniss, 2003). PepsiCo began initiating emotional intelligence training in the 1990s and has seen over a 1000% ROI, decreasing executive turnover by 87% (McClelland, 1998). And Andrea Jung, Chair & CEO of Avon says, “Emotional Intelligence is in our DNA here at Avon because relationships are critical at every stage of our business.”

Each of these organizations saw the value of developing social + emotional intelligence competencies in their leaders and made the commitment to transform their organizations and produce unprecedented results.

If you are interested in bringing social + emotional intelligence assessment, training and coaching into your organization, contact any of our Social + Emotional Intelligence Certified Coaches at the Institute for Social + Emotional Intelligence. We can be reached at or go to our website to learn more.

What Do You Do When Co-Workers are Long-Winded?

Article contributed by Terry Hildebrandt, PCC

Have you received feedback that your communication needs to be more succinct? Do your colleagues roll their eyes in meetings when you begin to share what you believe to be an interesting and captivating story? While you might have the gift of gab, your colleagues may not always appreciate this gift in business or personal settings. I work often with mid-level executives who have been told they need to be more succinct, especially when communicating with upper management. Here are some common symptoms of being too verbose.

Symptoms of long-windedness:

  • Sharing too many details that don’t contribute to your key message.
  • Explaining or justifying your reasoning for any decision in great detail.
  • Documenting a blow-by-blow narrative of situations to provide context.
  • Thinking out loud with no clear road map for your audience to follow.

Causes of long-windedness:

  • Lack of confidence in your own judgment

As an expert in your field, your company has hired you to provide your opinions and recommendations. Your audience doesn’t want to do all the analysis themselves to come to the same conclusion that you have. They want your bottom line conclusion with just enough data to convince them that yours is a good decision. Newer executives often feel that they need to prove that their decisions are justified. While this may occasionally be the case for complex or high-risk situations, more often than not your recommendation or conclusion is all they need.

  • Lack of structure

Another cause of long-windedness can be a lack of structure in your communications. This is especially a common problem for extroverts who need the opportunity to think out loud. The side effect of sharing thoughts as they emerge can be confusion on the part of your audience.

  • Ignoring the communication style of others

Individuals vary in the level and type of information required for them to understand situations and make decisions. For example, sensing types prefer concrete data while intuitive types prefer to hear trends, theories, and patterns. A common mistake is to assume that everyone is like us and prefers the same communication approach as we do.

What you can do to be more succinct and clear:

  1. Follow the Think-Feel-Do principle – Keep in mind what you desire your audience to be thinking, feeling, and ready to do at the end of any communication. This simple principle addresses the head, heart, and hands. Craft your communication in such a way that your audience will know how they should feel, what they should think, and what they need to do. Strategically choose details and stories that reinforce these objectives.
  2. Seek feedback  – Check in frequently to see if others are tracking and if they have heard the key points of your message. Only provide more details if they need it.
  3. Adjust to others’ communication styles –  Ask others how they prefer to communicate and adjust your approach based on others’ needs. Also ask them what level of detail they need if you are unsure. Don’t assume that everyone needs the same approach.

Looking for a Job? Increase Your Social + Emotional Intelligence

The end of summer signals the start of a new planning cycle for many organizations, including the planning that comes with bringing on new employees.  Businesses are beginning to think about how they will expand and/or contract over the coming months and what strategic hires they will need to meet their key objectives.

That person could be you, if you’re the right fit.

In human resources (HR) circles we call it behavioral interviewing.  Essentially we are attempting to identify how candidates handle themselves and others in challenging situations.  We are testing – assessing – their social and emotional intelligence by how they answer certain questions.  S+EI is the ability to be aware of our own emotions and those of others, in the moment, and to use that information to manage ourselves and manage our relationships.

Behavioral interviewing questions might take the form of the following:

  • “Tell me about a time when you found yourself in conflict with another person in the workplace.  How did you handle it?”
  • “Have you ever found yourself working with a difficult person?  How did you handle that?”
  • “How do you go about building trust in the workplace and particularly on your team?”

Are you prepared for these (and many other similar) questions?

Taking time to improve your social and emotional intelligence will give you a competitive edge during the interview process.  High S+EI skills are necessary for managers and anyone who will be working in a team environment.

Here are a few quick tips for improving your S+EI and preparing for the job interview:

Identify your strengths and weaknesses.  List them out in a top five format then rank them with 1 being the best and 5 the worst under each of the headings.  Write down how you can leverage your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.  This prepares you for one of the most frequently asked interview questions—what are your strengths and what is your greatest weakness.  Knowing how you will play on your strengths and mitigate your weaknesses demonstrates your self-awareness, a key social and emotional intelligence competency.

Master conflict management.  If you are currently unemployed, dig deep for conflict situations in your previous position.  Dissect the interactions by depersonalizing them.  Figure out what you did, what hot buttons were triggered during the interaction, what you could have done better, what you learned from the interaction and how you can make it a win-win next time.  Knowing your own preferences in handling conflict and then managing your response to conflict positively going forward makes you a more desirable candidate for employment.

Practice teamwork and collaboration.  Employed or unemployed, you can practice the skills of teamwork and collaboration.  Volunteer to organize an event for a cause you believe in or sit on a local board of directors for a nonprofit organization.  Either one will provide you with rich experience in working with different types of people and managing your responses to them, another key S+EI competency.  People with high social and emotional intelligence skills are able to create a motivating and enthusiastic work environment (remember, emotions are contagious!).  They put the team’s overall goals ahead of their individual goals, and take the opportunity to share the credit for the team’s successes.  Volunteering and other community work showcases your abilities to create cohesive teams, and is just as valuable as what you have done in the office, so be sure to work it into your interview when the time is right.

These are only a few brief tips for helping increase your social and emotional intelligence and make yourself an attractive candidate for open positions.  If you’d like to learn more, please visit us at or email or call us at 303-325-5176.

How Jim Turned Things Around With Social + Emotional Intelligence

Liz*, head of HR for a well-known high-tech company, called to ask for some help with Jim, the Vice President of Operations.

Jim* has been with the company for 24 years, and has steadily been promoted throughout the years because of his ability to get things done on time and within budget.

He is off-the-charts brilliant, a hard-working technical genius, task-oriented, ambitious, and driven to succeed.  He has little patience for people who can’t keep up with him intellectually or operationally.

The Screamer!Some people consider him to be arrogant and condescending, and if something goes wrong, explosive.  He has a reputation for being a bully and a tyrant.

As the economy has started to turn around, the employees in his area have begun leaving the organization, jumping ship to the competition.  Decades of cumulative experience as well as trade secrets are walking out the door and directly into the waiting arms of competing firms.  Exit interviews indicate that the employees are leaving because of the way he treats them.  He berates people in public meetings, he calls them names, he has even been known to throw things in a fit of anger.

Liz is tired of hearing the complaints, and is starting to have trouble filling the vacant positions because Jim has developed a reputation in the industry and in the community as being a difficult boss.  Quality candidates have no interest in coming to working for him.  She has discussed this with him on several occasions, and he refuses to see that he has a role in the problem.  He insists that it is his job to keep things running, and that if they can’t stand the heat, they should “get out of the kitchen.”  The CEO is aware of the problem, but also values the fact that Jim has a tough job and gets things done on time and on budget, and doesn’t want to let  him go.

“Can you help?” she asked when she called us.  “It looks like we need to keep him, but we need for him to start treating people better so they don’t leave.”   I told her we would see what we could do.

The following week we went in to meet with Jim, and we also met with several members of his team.  Liz had been very accurate in her characterization of Jim, and had even underestimated, to some degree, the impact he was having on the people around him.  Several more already had their foot out the door.

We laid out a plan for Jim to enhance his awareness of his impact on people, including doing an emotional intelligence 360, and we began a coaching program focused on impulse control, stress management, and dealing with conflict more productively.  We worked with him on taking more of a “coach approach” to his style of leadership and management, seeking opportunities to develop, coach and mentor people rather than scream at them.  We showed him how productivity (and profitability) could actually be enhanced if he modified his leadership style.

Jim was resistant at first.  But when he saw the results of his 360, he could see he had some blind spots.  He even took his 360 report home to show his wife, and complained to her that people didn’t really know him or they wouldn’t have answered the way they did, and that he had to keep doing things the same way or “nothing would ever get done on time.”

She disagreed with him.  She told him that the report was absolutely on-target, and that she had experienced his negative behaviors, his arrogance, condescension, and contempt, yelling, and anger enough over the years, and that quite honestly, she was planning to end the marriage when their youngest child (currently 16 and a sophomore in high school) left home for college.

Jim was stunned.

She also told him that their older three kids (already out of the house) didn’t want anything to do with him, and that they felt estranged from their father.

He was speechless.

And then she told him that their 16-year old daughter, who had been seeing a counselor, had talked with her counselor recently about suicide, and that she attributed a great deal of her depression and inability to deal with high school to the way she was treated by her father.

Tough news indeed.

Jim discussed all this with his coach very soon after this conversation with his wife.

He asked to review the 360 results again, and agreed that perhaps he did need to work on a few things.  Together we put a plan together, which he began to approach with the same drive that he approached most other aspects of his work.  He identified goals and very specific actions he could take to improve how he was interacting with people.  He also decided he needed to acknowledge publicly that his prior way of doing things had not been effective.

He sat down and had a very honest conversation with each member of his team.  He apologized for his past behavior, explaining that he hadn’t realized just how difficult he had been.  He told them what he wanted to change, and asked for their support in making those changes, even asking them to help hold him accountable in his quest to change.  Every day, he practiced the new techniques for managing conflict, and for managing himself.  He learned new ways of communicating with people, learned how to understand what motivated them, and how to work and interact with them more effectively.

Today, Jim’s employee engagement scores are higher than any other department in the company.  His team is happy, turnover has decreased to almost zero, and they are producing more than ever in the history of the company.

And on the personal side, Jim’s marriage has improved (he’s working really hard here), and his relationship with his children has improved beyond measure.  And his youngest daughter?  She’s now a beautiful 17-year-old, happy, well-adjusted, and thriving socially and in school. *

*This case study is based on real events, but the names have been changed and the circumstances altered slightly to protect confidentiality.

Engineering Great Managers at Google via Social + Emotional Intelligence

In a fascinating article in the New York Times, Adam Bryant reports on Google’s initiative to engineer better managers, and it turns out that seven of the eight key competencies of great managers are squarely in the realm of social and emotional intelligence.

Two years ago, Google embarked on an in-depth research initiative to determine the characteristics that define the best bosses in the organization.  The study, called “Project Oxygen,” analyzed thousands of performance reviews, employee surveys, nominations for “top-manager” awards, and much more.

All the data analysis and research was boiled down to a list of eight key management competencies.

The top skills, called “Google’s Rules for Managers,” include:

  1. Be a good coach to your employees (have regular one-on-ones, maximize employees’ strengths, provide specific, clear feedback)
  2. Empower your team and don’t micro-manage
  3. Express interest in team members’ success and personal well-being
  4. Don’t be a sissy:  be productive and results-oriented
  5. Be a good communicator and listen to your team
  6. Help your employees with career development
  7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team
  8. Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team.

Read the rest of this entry »

4 Practical Tips to Manage Conflict in Your Organization & Life

“I’m just going to fire the cleaning lady!” This is how my friend responded to my greeting as I picked up the phone. “What happened?” I asked. Flustered and breathless she says, “She flushed a toothbrush down the toilet, didn’t tell us and now we have had to drain the septic system, snake all the drains, and finally replace the toilet! I’m talkin’ $800 bucks worth of service and repair to find a toothbrush!” I cautiously allow the next question to leave my lips, “Have you talked to her about it?” Silence.

How many times have you, as an HR professional, had someone burst into your office or call you on the phone with their own version of “firing the cleaning lady,” and you discover no attempt has been made to discuss the issue with the employee or co-worker? Probably more often than you would like.

Learning to respond appropriately, manage conflict and handle uncomfortable conversations is so important in leadership and in life that entire books (Crucial Conversations, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan & Al Switzler) and businesses (trained mediators, etc.) have been built around the topic.

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6 Quick Tips for Coaching “Vision”

“You don’t seem to have any vision.  And if you do, you aren’t articulating it.” She shrunk under the weight of the words of the CEO.

(Extensive self talk follows.) “Is he right?  Had she failed to articulate her vision?  Did she even have a vision?  Of course she did.  It seemed perfectly clear to her.  Why didn’t he get it?  Must be him.  Maybe he was having a bad day.”

By the time this division director arrived in my office, she had already convinced herself that she was fine and that the CEO was nuts.  My job was to deliver a swift dose of reality.

Truth time.  ”Assuming what the CEO said is true, it sounds like you may be lacking in “inspirational leadership.”  This is one of the key social + emotional intelligence competencies needed by leaders.  You may have a great vision and you just haven’t given it a voice that could create the level of enthusiasm necessary to move the organization and division to the next level.”  She took in the observation and asked the ever important self development question, “so now what?”

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Workplace Bullies – What To Do?

Workplace bullies demonstrate a serious lack of social and emotional intelligence.  They lack the skills of self-management, stress management and empathy.  They do severe damage to the individuals they bully, and to the companies for which they work.

And the problem is widespread.  According to a survey conducted in 2007 by Zogby International, almost half of U.S. workers report they’ve been the subject of workplace bullying or have witnessed it.

That figure may be low. Read the rest of this entry »

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