So here's a hard truth. According to a 2018 Gallup survey, only 34% of employees are engaged and 53% of Human Resources professionals say that Employee Engagement is a critically important issue for organizations. Additionally, since 2020 has dished out challenge after challenge globally, 72% of American's say their lives have been disrupted "a lot" or "some" by the coronavirus outbreak. Disruption causes increased volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity in our lives. All of this put together, leads to lower personal productivity, lower employee morale, low retention rates and ultimately lower company success.
𝗪𝗵𝘆 𝗶𝘀 𝗼𝗻𝗹𝘆 𝟯4% 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗸𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗰𝗲 𝗲𝗻𝗴𝗮𝗴𝗲𝗱? While there may be virtual happy hours and various traditional forms of engagement, our new world today requires leaders who genuinely engage, interact and demonstrate care for their employees (among other things of course). This is where Emotional Intelligence comes into play. Here are 5 quick tips you can integrate immediately to make you a more emotionally intelligent leader:
1. Listen completely. Try fully letting the other person finish speaking and allow 1 extra second of silence before you pipe in. Do you ever notice how while someone is speaking to you, you're already thinking of what to say back? This means our mind is active and generating a response instead of listening to what the person is saying, so we're more likely to miss important pieces and be disengaged.
"Listen to Listen, not to respond"
2. Pause before responding aka actually respond instead of react. Take a moment and consider what was just shared with you, and respond to that only. This can help to create space from a previous interaction that may have left a sour note and prevent you from projecting or reacting from emotion. We can still respond with emotion, but when we react we are acting from a space of compulsion vs. choice.
3. Instead of asking the typical "how are you?" and expecting the superficial short reply of "good how are you?" while hovering over your employee's desk, try something different. Sit down and ask them "do you have a few mins to chat? how are you feeling today?" Share how you're feeling today too. Yes, this might feel like a weird question (see what I did there, feel like a weird question) but that's only because you might not ever ask it. We need to normalize real conversation and connection with these basics.
4. Recognize & acknowledge what else (other than work tasks) might be on their plate. Maybe they are planning a huge (virtual) party for their spouse, trying to get their kids into one of the 5 summer camps that opened, are still anxious about covid and racial injustice and...and this is all taking up a lot of mental space, and rightly so! Our work and home life is more integrate now more than ever before! Now I'm not saying you have to offer to help distribute party hats to respective bday party guests houses or start googling summer camps abroad , but just acknowledge what else they may have going on! Hear them out, and even if don't know what to say you can say "dang, you have a lot on your plate, I don't even know what to say." This is how we put empathy into action! We don't need to fix things for others, they just know that we're there with them and we hear them! This humanizes interactions.
5. Have the difficult conversations. Difficult conversations are the ones that you don't want to have, or feel resistance to having. You may prefer to ignore these and sweep them under the rug, but they are absolutely vital to effectively engage teams. Now, more than ever, we are facing fear, uncertainty and global unrest and individuals are looking at leaders (in both our personal and professional lives) to respond with conviction and compassion. If you are a leader, you have a responsibility to engage in these conversations and support your teams with the sticky, cringe-worthy, uncomfortable situations that impact them and their productivity.
Keep in mind that these are all practices to try continuously. If the status quo on your team is not to talk about anything non-work related, you may have to ask few different times what else they have on the go (point #4). You may need to reset the norm. So stay patient and persistent as this will help you to build these habits. With genuine care and curiosity you will be able to support your teams more effectively.
To learn more about how you can develop emotional intelligence within your workplace, feel free to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how I can help!