Thursday, May 17, 2018

Coaching EQ is Contagious


Being successful in business requires more than just a good education, years of experience and smarts. It also requires insight, social skill, and sensibility. To climb the career ladder, leaders must also be able to control impulses, read situations and people, influence others, and manage stressful situations. Easier said than done.  

The EQ Advantage

Researchers call this emotional know-how Emotional Intelligence or EQ.  Emotional Intelligence is a set of skills that include one's ability to recognize their own impulses and moods and the ability to read situations accurately and respond most appropriately depending on the situation or person they are dealing with. 

You've probably heard it called "soft skills," "people smarts," "social savvy," or "street smarts."  EQ is all of this and more.

According to research conducted by Daniel Goleman, author of several bestsellers on EQ, "In a study of outstanding leaders, we found that emotional competence accounted for more than 80% of the ingredients of star performance." 

Emotional Intelligence initiatives in the workplace have been linked to:
  • Greater productivity
  • Increased sales
  • Employee happiness
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Effective leadership

Being strong in technical skills creates value for the organization, but at some point, those who lack Emotional Intelligence fail to achieve the results they need to within their departments, from their peers or in themselves. Some will hit a plateau in their career, some will change jobs frequently and some are forced to step down from management responsibility.

Stumped to understand why many overlook the role their behavior has on others and how the good they set out to do is swallowed up by the pitfalls common to those with low EQ:
  • Contradictory behavior/Mixed messages
  • Short temper
  • Inappropriate comments
  • Impatience
  • Low self-awareness/Out of touch
  • Insensitivity
  • Arrogance

It is always difficult to see well-meaning employees trample their own good intentions through misguided efforts and a lack of understanding of what makes people want to work with them. 

Having EQ is contagious, acting as a catalyst to enhance the work experience for everyone. Therefore, developing Emotional Intelligence in one often benefits a whole team. And because EQ is a collection of skills that can be learned, real results can be seen from increased awareness, practice, and coaching.

Using EQ to Decode Challenging Behaviors

Developing Emotional Intelligence in others does require your ability to build the willingness in another to look at their own behavior and be open to making a change. Consider some of the characteristics that coaches say make some employees nearly uncoachable and the EQ development needs behind them.

The Don't-See-the-Need-to-Change, or Always-a-Victim, or Denial-of-the-Problem-Employee

Employees who fall into one of these categories are products of low Self-Awareness.  They see the performance issue as someone else's misinterpretation or perpetually play the victim.  These employees have "blind spots" that keep them from seeing the issue from a reality-based, objective point of view. 

No matter how vividly the problem and their contributing behavior is described to them, they lack the skills to self-examine, to identify the drivers behind their behavior, and the insight to know how to fix it. 

Like all EQ skills, Self-Awareness is a competency that can be taught but it is difficult, in-depth and time intensive.  This is an area where one-on-one coaching can be very successful. A multi-rater (360°) feedback tool can also be very helpful.  

The Defensive or Emotional Employee

We've all known the challenge of dealing with employees who deflect all responsibility for the bad stuff.  Or the individual who complicates and distracts a performance discussion by erupting into a puddle of emotion. 

Then there's the special case who does both.  These employees have an excuse ready before you're done talking.  There are few pet peeves more commonly cited by managers than an employee who always finds a responsible party to foot the blame.  
Behind this annoying behavior lies low Self-Control

By failing to control their initial reaction and allowing their desire to distance themselves to take over, these individuals emotionally hijack themselves.  Their ability to actively listen and critically think about the feedback being presented to them is impaired by their impulse to flee or from the discomfort of the situation or attack the messenger. 

The Disengaged Employee 

These are the clock watchers.  The "do as little as possible for as long as possible" employee.  Somehow, somewhere their batteries died.  But they keep outside appearances tidy enough so no one gets close enough to find out.  This sad scenario often describes employees who have low Optimism and Influence.   

At some point, these employees stopped believing in their ability to impact positive change.  They see Influence as being in the hands of others.  They have lost the passion to speak up and step up for what they want.  For these employees, a willingness to receive performance feedback is not the issue, caring enough to change is.  

Learning to see the EQ need behind the problematic behavior helps leaders to shift from focusing on the symptoms to digging deeper into root causes and long-term,
collaborative solutions. 

Employees who feel understood have a much greater motivation and capacity for change.  Suddenly a "lost cause" employee has the potential for improvement after all. 

If you desire to shift from managing to coaching, it's time to learn more about harnessing the power of Emotional Intelligence.  This brand of smarts can be learned.  

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Months in a Minute

Clockwise from top left: Steve and me at the NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis, Steve and me at Commonwealth in Waltham, MA, Book signing in Las Vegas for the National SHRM conference, Me speaking at the CA Mortgage Bankers Assoc. in La Jolla, Work Truck Show questions, Me speaking in NYC for Highgate Hotels
March and April came with more change, our office has moved from Bedford NH to Mesa AZ. We brought the team together for the move-in weekend to enjoy the beautiful weather and do some business planning for the rest of 2018. Being based in the Phoenix area should make travel to all cities easier and give me quicker access to popular conference cities like Las Vegas, San Diego, and Salt Lake City. But, no worries if you are on the East Coast, we will still be routinely visiting your area. I have still spent a lot of time in NH the last two months, and it seemed this winter would never end. Flying through Chicago in late April we were delayed due to snow and time to de-ice. But it's time for some optimism to return, we have turned the corner to better weather and a lovely Spring! 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Learning to Delegate


Every leader struggles with delegation; how much to delegate? How important should the tasks that are delegated be? How do we know when someone is "ready" for the next level of accountability? Is there a balance between micro-managing and complete autonomy?

This points to the differences between management and leadership. Consider "the paradox of letting go" from Lao Tzu. This philosophy says "when I let go of what I am I become what I might be."

When I give up trying to be in control (management), I have greater influence (leadership). When I let go of my fear of failure (management), I am stronger (leadership). When I stop dictating to my team (management), I allow them to show me their capabilities (leadership). What I learn by trying to control others is that my team can follow instructions; what I never learn is the potential waiting inside them. Management is about power, leadership is about liberation. In the moments of greatest desire to control, consider letting go. You will be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Intentions vs Behaviors


Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge Stephen Covey fan. I was recently reacquainted with one of his great insights on the way we judge others and ourselves. Inaccurate assumptions lead to mistrust, strained relationships, and disengagement. On the other hand, a judgment-free workplace promotes strong teamwork and loyalty - everyone wants a leader who is in their corner. Think about how you judge and are judged by others. 

Seeing It From the Other Side

Stephen Covey has said that we judge others on their behavior and we judge ourselves on our intentions. What would happen if we reversed that thinking?

Wouldn't your team be more creative if they experienced less judgment in the workplace? Wouldn't there be less stress if everyone felt accepted and understood?  Consider doing a brief but easy exercise to learn more about perceptions.

Imagine seeing yourself from someone else's point of view. They do not have the benefit of knowing how you think. They do not get insight into your rationale when you make decisions. They only see what you do and what you say. For one week, spend the last 10 minutes of each workday writing down the names of the people you interacted with that day and, thinking about your behavior only, list the adjectives they would give if asked to describe you. Now make a list of everyone you interacted with and how you judged them that day.

On the flip side, since we don't have the ability to read someone else's mind, we make a lot of assumptions about why someone behaves the way they do. What if you spent one week conscientiously assuming everyone had the best intentions?  Even bad behavior can be driven by someone trying to do the right thing and being stymied by the actions of others. Catch yourself before judging someone else negatively and instead consider any and all positive motives. Choose one of those.

Done earnestly, this will be a very enlightening exercise increasing your self-awareness and empathy. What have you got to lose?

Thursday, March 22, 2018

In-Placement: The Case for Permanent Temps

You have probably heard of out-placement services, but have you considered creating an in-placement plan within your company? Think of it as your own resume bank that would serve as your internal labor market. This could be tied to training and development plans, or career succession plans, or you could create a float pool of employees that fill in where needed.

Based on the old-fashioned concept of a secretarial pool, your in-placement service could provide full-time employees work within your organization where needed, filling many important roles on an interim or project basis. This would appeal to employees who like the diversity of work and enjoy learning new things.

This would benefit the organization by providing it with a flexible labor pool without the need for temps. Full-time employees are more dedicated, committed and knowledgeable about the company than outsiders. This valuable cross-training can lead to future leadership or permanent positions