With today’s uncertainty, fear, and escalating stress levels, emotions often run high, which not only changes the way our brain functions, but it also diminishes our cognitive abilities, decision-making powers, and interpersonal skills. Now’s the time to be focused on being emotionally intelligent.
Consider a time you’ve said something in the heat of the moment and later regretted those words you seemed to have no control over. Self-awareness is the first step of Emotional Intelligence. It’s having a deep understanding of your emotions, strengths, weaknesses, limitations, and motivations. In other words, knowing who you are and what kind of person you want to be in your professional and your personal life.
Recently, as I drove through a construction zone with heavy traffic, I needed to switch lanes. I checked the mirror, saw my opportunity, and merged, leaving ample space between my vehicle and the next car. But the driver behind me stomped on the gas pedal, nearly touching my bumper. In my mirror, I saw his angry, red face shouting obscenities. When the road finally opened, he passed my car honking and yelling toward me.
What made him so angry? What triggered him? What emotional stage was he in? He either didn’t try to control his behaviour, or perhaps this was a bad habit he’d become used to.
When you’re not self-aware and cannot regulate your emotions, they affect your behaviour, relationships, and job performance. Being self-aware means being honest with yourself so you can move into self-management.
Imagine this: You’re in a meeting, and one of your team members challenges your idea. This person always gets under your skin. Emotion rises from your gut, passes your throat, and is about to fly out your mouth. But at that moment, instead of letting lose words you’ll soon regret or is unhelpful in the situation, follow these four steps to ensure you become the person you want to be:
Step #1: Stop. Count to 10.
Step #2: Acknowledge the emotion. Don’t suppress it or pretend it’s not there.
Step #3: Ask a “what” question.
Step #4: Bring out the appropriate behaviour.
To get productive insight, you need to ask a “what” question instead of asking, “why” am I feeling upset. Productive questions would be:
- What was the behaviour that triggered my emotion?
- What other types of situations upset me like this?
- What is the commonality?
- Is there a pattern?
These questions keep you objective and feeling empowered, future-focused. You can then have a rational assessment of your limitations, strengths, and triggers.
In this scenario, an appropriate behaviour, Step #4, would be listening actively until the other person finishes talking. Then consider one of the following scripts to continue:
- Can you help me understand your thinking here?
- What makes you say that?
- Can you tell me more about that?
- How do you see the situation differently?
To get your perspective heard, you can then follow up with:
- Here’s what I’m thinking. I came to this conclusion because…
When you’re self-aware, you can determine where you want to go, what is the importance for you, and then plan how to get there. In other words, you need to find your passion and your purpose to build the road that will take you to your goals.
After working for more than twenty years in the corporate world, it suddenly came to an end. I never saw it coming. I had no control over the situation. Chaos and extreme emotions surfaced, much like living through the COVID pandemic. I had to ask myself:
- What do I want to do?
- What gets me excited and motivated?
- What is fun for me?
- What is important to me?
- Who is the person I want to become?
- What is my purpose by taking this path?
- Do my passion, purpose, and goals align?
- What are the limitations I set up for myself?
- What is my true potential?
- What are my strengths, weaknesses?
- How can I use the tools that I already have to reach my goal?
- What other tools do I need?
- How can I complete those missing tools in my toolbox?
Notice there are no “why” questions here. Answering these questions is not easy. It takes a lot of self-checking, self-assessment, and rethinking. It took me three months to discover what I wanted to do, what the next steps were, and begin to build it. Finally, I found my passion and purpose – and got excited and motivated to start building the next stage in my career.
When you’re passionate about what you’re doing and know the purpose of your existence in the workplace, you’ll realize the value you add to an organization. You’ll have the energy, strength, and resilience to overcome challenges. You’ll set your goals and use that positive energy for motivation. And you’ll build strong relationships with others by being aware of emotions (yours and theirs) and prepared to regulate them – that’s emotional intelligence in action.
Nurdan Tokoz has developed a reputation for shining a light on individuals within high-performance teams and helping them to exceed performance expectations so the organization can achieve its goals. As a Human Performance Consultant, with degrees in industrial engineering and adult education, Nurdan excels at identifying performance issues, developing sustainable solutions with a systematic and holistic approach to improving human performance. Download her whitepaper, “The Top 5 Performance Mistakes,”.
Leadership training. Team training. Skills training. Organizations are always looking to upgrade, adapt, and excel. But how many training binders do you need sitting on the shelf gathering dust? You know, the ones that showed great potential at the time, but have not resulted in any significant change. If you’re like most companies, the shelves are sagging under the weight.
There are excellent training programs that your employees can benefit from; however, you must first identify the underlying problem. When I say “identify,” I’m not talking about the tip of the iceberg; I’m referring to the bulk hidden underwater – the real issue.
It’s frustrating to see organizations invest in comprehensive and expensive training programs without being aware of the root cause or real problem. Are you aware of what’s going on “under the water” within your walls?
Imagine, for a moment, that you have a stomachache. You may stay home for a day or two, try various remedies, but when the problem worsens, you realize it’s time to seek help from a professional to understand the cause.
So, you go to your doctor. Your doctor would not immediately prescribe the treatment without understanding your problem but would ask specific questions to determine the cause of your condition. And then, you may be subjected to various tests to ensure you receive the proper treatment.
This should be the same approach when it comes to human performance issues.
Let’s say, for example, you cannot obtain the required performance outcomes when you look at the performance of your leadership team.
- What do you exactly want them to do?
- What is the performance outcome you want to see?
- Why are they not doing what they are supposed to be doing?
Is a leadership training program the right prescription, or is there a part hidden underwater that you cannot see or avoid seeing?
The first critical question you must ask is: “Are you aware of the underlying cause of poor performance, and what is the right prescription?”
If training is part of the solution to the performance issue, as part of the prescription, you must ensure that the whole learning experience (not only the content) will make an impact in developing the desired behaviours. Organizations first need to determine their business goals and the desired behaviours to help them achieve those goals.
The second critical question you must ask is: “What are the desired behaviours required to achieve your organizational goals?”
The environment has changed as teams work remotely during this global pandemic. We need to change the way we do things. Organizations across North America are spending tens of billions of dollars on training programs annually. They know “something” has to change, so they look at training programs filled with extensive content that cannot be absorbed in such a short period. There is no tangible way for employees to tie the information to their work and develop the desired behaviour.
Providing only content shouldn’t be the purpose of a learning experience – it will not improve performance. The learning experience should aim at helping people link the information to their work, apply what they’ve learned consistently so they can develop the desired behaviour that will improve their performance. As Harold D. Stolovitch and Erica J. Keeps say, “training ain’t performance,” and behaviours cannot be developed overnight.
If the whole learning experience does not include these components, and allow time to develop, practise new behaviours, then the information will stay in the binders and continue sagging the shelves. You cannot expect much performance improvement as a result.
The third critical question you must ask is: “Is the learning experience supporting the desired behaviour development to achieve your organizational goals?
As an organization, when you plan to invest in training programs, you need to make sure that the whole learning experience aligns with the answers to these three questions and contribute to behavioural change. Then your investment as an organization in terms of time, money, and resources will be allocated effectively.
Nurdan Tokoz has developed a reputation for shining a light on individuals within high-performance teams and helping them to exceed performance expectations so the organization can achieve its goals. As a Human Performance Consultant, with degrees in both industrial engineering and adult education, Nurdan excels at identifying performance issues, developing sustainable solutions with a systematic and holistic approach to improving human performance. Download her whitepaper, “The Top 5 Performance Mistakes,”.
When employees lack a connection between their personal performance and the overall goals of the organization it can lead to a lack of engagement and motivation.
Consider the story of the 3 stone masons:
A man is passing by a massive construction site when he notices three masons labouring away on chunks of granite taken from large blocks.
He asks each mason, in turn, what they are doing.
Mason #1: “I am cutting this stone to shape all day long,” says the first describing his basic action.
Mason #2: “I am shaping this rock to use it to build the walls,” says the second one to describe his immediate outcome.
Mason #3: “I am building a cathedral,” says the third mason. “I am serving God by building this cathedral that will bring comfort to many people.”
Which of these 3 masons do you believe will have the greatest motivation and commitment to his work? The same principle holds true for your employees.
All too often, organizations create lists of responsibilities and required qualifications to identify what each employee has to “do.” However, they do not identify the outcomes that really matter to the organization. The employees are simply focusing on basic actions or immediate outcomes.
However, when employees understand the connection between their performance outcomes and the organizational goals, they can appreciate the “real value” of what they produce. The more they understand the value of what they do, the more their motivation and engagement increase. This will result in achieving sustainable business goals faster and more consistently.
When employees understand the value of the outcomes that they produce and what they do for their organizations, they find the purpose in their work. So, they will think of their “work” as a real value to help the organization to achieve its goals, not only list of tasks to complete.
Do you know what your organization needs to do to build the link between the business outcomes and the organizational goals of your employees? If not, we can help.