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Category: Business Practices

In business as in sports, high-performing teams aren’t built on talent alone. While a certain level of individual talent is an essential element, teams that ultimately win championships—or outperform the competition in business—have talented members who work together and collaborate as a cohesive group. And the key element in creating that collaboration is emotional intelligence, or EQ.

Per Wikipedia, “Emotional intelligence (EI, or emotion quotient—EQ) is most often defined as the ability to perceive, use, understand, manage, and handle emotions. People with high emotional intelligence can…adjust emotions to adapt to environments. The term…gained popularity in the best-selling book Emotional Intelligence, by science journalist Daniel Goleman. Goleman defined EI as the array of skills and characteristics that drive leadership performance.”

How can you visualize EQ? On the Miles LeHane blog, Evan Watkins and Dr. Jean Greaves, authors of the book Team Emotional Intelligence 2.0: The Four Essential Skills of High Performing Teams, share this powerful graphic illustrating the four “roots” and 20 visible signs of teams with high EQ.

To help corporate and other organization teams improve their EQ and team performance, Best Corporate Events offers an Emotional Intelligence Training workshop within our professional development programs. We asked team development professional Steve Ockerbloom to explain how our EQ training supports elements in the Watkins/Greaves model.

The Roots of EQ

“There’s a great phrase, ‘IQ will get you hired. EQ will get you promoted,’” says Steve. “To go a step beyond that, EQ not only gets you promoted, but EQ helps you and the rest of the team more generally achieve high performance.

“When you think about what EQ does, looking at the roots of that tree, it starts with awareness about yourself and awareness about other people. One of the nice things about emotional intelligence is that, while it can help leaders maximize team performance, EQ is also great in terms of learning how to work more collaboratively with team members, for their benefit and mine as well.

“Because if our team doesn’t have high EQ, we’ll be constantly butting heads, failing to maximize our potential, not being resilient through challenges and problems…and that’s incredibly stressful for all of us.

“In our Emotional Intelligence Training workshop, we really take a look at those four facets of the tree root system. How aware are we of ourselves and about the people around us? Are we strong in terms of being able to manage stress in the moment and in our lives more generally? What are some tools we can use to build and strengthen relationships with each other, as well as with our clients and other external relationships?”

The Visible “Fruit” of Strong EQ

“For example, understanding more about how we can innovate,” Steve continues. “How can we avoid ‘idea duck hunting’? That’s when somebody floats up an idea, but before it really has a chance to take off, someone else shoots it down. It really doesn’t feel good, and it makes everyone in the group hesitant to express new ideas.

“That’s a classic example of a lack of emotional intelligence about how easy it is for us to judge the ideas of others based on our own experiences and biases before anyone has a chance to really explore, discuss, and talk about why they think it’s going to be potentially useful.

“So, our emotional intelligence can help us improve at innovation by actually creating a better brainstorming process, whether as a leader or a team member. With higher EQ, team members improve their listening skills and collaboration, and become more inclusive, leading to better decision making.

“What are some things that we can do in the moment from an emotional intelligence standpoint when we’re dealing with a client who is unhappy, upset, very vocal, perhaps even angry and aggressive? How do we remain rational?

“It’s challenging because when our emotional side is engaged, we often have a ‘fight, flight, freeze, or appease’ (create artificial harmony) reaction. When we’re incredibly emotional, it’s really hard for us to be reasonable and rational.

“Our Emotional Intelligence Training workshop teaches participants how to get back to engaging reasonably and rationally when they’re in a highly charged emotional situation, how to ‘lower the temperature’ and de-escalate, handle that stress, express empathy, manage conflict, and deal with emotional clients, being able to understand and to establish more elements of trust.”

For some people, trust is as simple as “do what you say you’ll do.” But for many others, Steve points out, trust is more than that. “Trust is showing an element of vulnerability. One of the points Patrick Lencioni writes about in his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, is that 87% of people feel like they can establish more trust when their colleague shows an element of vulnerability. For example, vulnerability can be as simple as saying, ‘I need help with this issue,” or admitting, ‘I’m not a subject matter expert in this area, and I value your opinion here.’”

There’s a limit to this, of course. Being vulnerable doesn’t mean being helpless. But, Steve explains, “Our emotional intelligence workshop talks about how we can show an element of vulnerability that can actually help and strengthen the team, and establish greater trust.

“In general, the Emotional Intelligence Training workshop gives us many tools we can use in our next meeting, in our decision-making, in cooperating with and influencing others, whether or not we’re leaders. Those tools are great for helping us assess problems, situations, and opportunities better as a team and to work together more productively.”

Summary

The most successful organizations are not simply collections of high-performing individuals, but rather teams of talented people who work together effectively and collaboratively to make and implement the best decisions.

But achieving that level of coordination and cooperation can be challenging. Everyone brings their own perspectives, biases, opinions, and emotions into the mix. Team members who are unable to recognize their own emotional reactions and empathize with others can derail progress and cause unnecessary, unproductive conflict.

Authors Evan Watkins and Dr. Jean Greaves have developed a helpful visual model of EQ, with the sources of emotional intelligence illustrated as tree roots and the benefits and effects of higher EQ as the tree’s leaves or fruit.

Emotional intelligence training can help individuals become more aware of and better manage their emotions, and use those skills to improve relationships with coworkers, customers, and business partners. Teams with high EQ among their members can perform at a high level across many metrics, from clearer communication and lower stress to greater agility and better decision making. 

Our Emotional Intelligence Workshop teaches participants about the components of EI / EQ and how to apply them as tools for professional growth and building high-performing teams.

Every enterprise today has access to technology, information, capital, and even talent (though they may have trouble retaining it). So what is it that separates high-performing organizations—those able to retain and engage the best people, and operate at a consistently high level—from their struggling peers? Recent research studies from Harvard and the U.S. Surgeon General agree on the answers.

Two closely related workplace factors have an outsized impact on organizational performance: relationships and well-being. These intertwined elements have huge effects on employee satisfaction and engagement as well as team communication and collaboration, all of which are critical ingredients in the high-performance mix.

Here’s a closer look at the research, the elements of workplace well-being, and how team building and professional development can help organizations improve in these areas, and ultimately perform at higher levels.

The Value of Workplace Relationships

Harvard Business Review reports that workplace friendships are anything but trivial: “By fueling our basic human psychological need for belonging, meaningful workplace connections drive many of the outcomes central to high-performing teams…Employees with close connections at work are more productive, creative, and collaborative. They also report being more satisfied with their job, are less susceptible to burnout, and are less likely to leave their organization to pursue another role. In other words, not only are they better contributors, they provide more stability to a team.”

Relationships have far more value than just their contribution to employee retention. They are the secret to happiness. As Inc. magazine notes, “Personal connection creates mental and emotional stimulation, and those things are automatic mood boosters, while isolation is a mood buster. Humans are an intensely social species.”

The Inc. article goes on to explain how modern technology, for all of its benefits, plays a big role in increasing isolation. Technology is vital to high business and operational performance. But to optimize both performance and employee happiness (which are closely linked), organizations have to foster human connections as well.

The Elements of Workplace Well-Being 

Based on extensive research, the Surgeon General has created a framework for workplace mental health and well-being. In introducing the framework, the Surgeon General’s website states, “Work affects both our physical and mental well-being—in good ways and bad. (In recent surveys) 84% of respondents said their workplace conditions had contributed to at least one mental health challenge (while) 81% of workers reported that they will be looking for workplaces that support mental health in the future.

“These five essentials support workplaces as engines of well-being…Creating a plan to enact these practices can help strengthen the essentials of workplace well-being.”

Note that workplace relationships (Connection & Community) are one of the five critical components in the model, working with and supporting the other elements.

The Role of Team Building and Professional Development

Obviously, applying this model in the workplace requires many things: leadership, executive buy-in and commitment, investment, and creativity among them.

Team building and professional development programs can also play vital roles in enhancing workplace relationships as well as the four other elements in the Surgeon General’s model. Here’s how.

Protection from Harm

Physical security is a big consideration of course, particularly given recent stories ranging from rude restaurant patrons to abusive air travelers.

But psychological security is also crucial to workplace mental health and well-being. Our Emotional Intelligence Training workshop helps participants better understand their own emotions and the emotions of others to manage them constructively. The application of EI at work helps create a culture of trust, loyalty, enhanced social awareness, and honest and open communication.

Conflict in the workplace is unavoidable, but our Conflict Resolution Training teaches participants strategies to handle disagreements with respect and professionalism. Finally, our DiSC Profile Workshop and MBTI Training enable employees to better understand their own personalities and recognize key traits in others, to eliminate bad habits, minimize conflict, and improve communication.

Connection & Community

As noted in a previous post here about how team building jumpstarts employee morale, every team building program incorporates four fundamental pillars: communication, collaboration, problem-solving, and leadership. Those pillars help employees build and enhance workplace relationships by working together to solve problems in a fun and challenging way, outside the normal context of work.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs specifically, in addition to incorporating those pillars, create a connection between the workplace and the wider community. Working together at events that benefit deserving nonprofits creates an emotionally powerful bond and shared experience among employees.

Work-Life Harmony

So many factors play into healthy work-life balance, from management to company policy to workplace structure.

Team building also can also play a role in fostering this harmony. According to Roy Charette, a leader in the fields of team building and professional development training, and managing partner at Best Corporate Events, the takeaways from corporate team building that transfer to life outside of work help bridge that gap.

“When a team building activity really resonates with a participant, the lessons they experience are often the ‘24/7’ variety in that they apply to all aspects of both personal and professional life. Enhanced active listening or conflict resolution skills, for example, will transcend the workplace and brighten interactions at home with friends and family.

“Participants will sometimes feel so connected to the lessons from a particular activity that they want to replicate that experience with their family, church group, or other organization they are associated with. It reminds them of a struggle they are having or a problem they need to solve outside of work.”

Mattering at Work

Team building impacts this component of workplace well-being in a couple of different ways. First, CSR activities help employees see a larger purpose in their work. They see their organizations making an investment in giving back to the community—whether it’s a Bike Build Donation® or Bears and Blankets program to help kids or a Build-a-Wheelchair® activity to help seniors, veterans, and others with mobility impairment—and are powerfully impacted by the opportunity to play a part in that.

Second is the feeling these activities create in terms of making a difference. For the sake of mental health and well-being, employees need to feel a purpose larger than just crossing items off an (often ever-expanding) to-do list.

What precisely will make employees feel like they’ve made a difference will vary among people. It may be making a difference for customers or clients. For some workers, it’s about making a difference in helping out their team. For others, it may be taking on a big challenge that no one has been able to figure out, or becoming the go-to subject matter expert in a certain area.

“What’s great about the programs at Best Corporate Events,” says team development professional Steve Ockerbloom, “is there are so many different team building activities that help accomplish those goals, that help employees connect the exercise to their regular work and feel that sense of making a difference.

“In a program like Crack the Case!, groups of employees compete to solve a series of puzzles and challenges designed to test creative thinking, problem-solving, ingenuity, and deductive reasoning, in order to ultimately crack the case before competing teams.

“CSR programs like Build-a-Guitar® and the Mini-Golf Build Food Donation present challenges that produce a sense of accomplishment as well as giving back to the community. So if we think about meaningful work in terms of being purpose-driven, or solving challenges that seem impossible, or becoming the subject matter expert, these team building activities give people an opportunity to latch onto that aspect, which can be incredibly motivating.”

Opportunity for Growth

Performance coaching and feedback isn’t just for helping struggling employees get up to standard and feel like they are contributing what’s expected. It’s vital to also apply this to top performers to help them understand their opportunities and perform at an even higher level.

“Development coaching” is a skill taught in our Managers Guide to Business Coaching program. It will look different for every employee. For some, it will be about preparing them for a leadership role. Other employees may not be interested in a supervisory position, but will want to learn a new skill set, or make a lateral move to gain experience in a different part of the organization, or get involved in a new project. The key is to provide employees with a path to growth within the organization—rather than watching them walk out the door for a new job offer.

One more key point here: leadership training isn’t just for current or aspiring leaders. It can benefit virtually every employee. Attending our personality assessment workshops or other professional development programs can help employees understand different perspectives and learn techniques and insights to influence peers within the organization, even without taking on a management role.

Conclusion

Studies from Harvard and other sources show that developing strong workplace relationships helps employees be more productive, collaborative, engaged, and happy at work, all of which contribute to higher levels of organizational performance.

The sense of connection produced by those strong relationships with coworkers is one of five essentials in the Surgeon General’s framework for workplace mental health and well-being. The other essentials identified in this model include a sense of safety and security, work-life harmony, a sense of mattering at work, and opportunities for advancement.

Implementing the full model requires top-level leadership and commitment, investments, and creativity. Team building and professional development programs can also play a strong supporting role in all of these facets of workplace well-being, ultimately leading to greater employee retention and engagement, and improved operational performance.

Welcome to the BEST blog, a collection of team building articles, industry insights and news about our large collection of programs and events offered in locations across North America.

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    If you have immediate questions, please contact us at:

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    Email: Sales@BestCorporateEvents.com

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    Programs can be delivered anywhere in North America.

      If you have immediate questions, please contact us at:

      Phone: 800.849.8326
      Email: Sales@BestCorporateEvents.com

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