10 Ways to Build Your Team’s EQ
People make up teams. Every person on your team has different skills and every team member’s skill set brings something to the table. Team members also possess different behavioral styles, motivators, and different competencies. In addition, every team member has various levels of business acumen, and of course diverse levels of EQ. Is EQ more important than skill sets? Can an entire team have an EQ score?
Those are both interesting questions. The answer to both questions is found in a couple of surveys. One survey is by LinkedIn suggesting that leaders think that a lack of soft skill is hampering productivity. A larger survey by The Wall Street Journal suggests that leaders believe soft skills to be equally or as important as hard skills. Now that we have an understanding that EQ is indeed important to organizations and their teams’ functionality, this begs the question how can team leaders grow EQ in existing teams?
- Begin at Hiring
Organizations can begin measuring EQ at the time of hire or even before. Administering EQ assessment to your top two or three candidates is a better idea than waiting until after hire. While skills are easy to train, soft skills such as EQ, a sense of urgency, or critical thinking are more difficult to train. This is not to say that EQ assessments shouldn’t be given to existing teams, this is in fact, an effective way to begin instilling the importance of EQ in existing teams. It may be an uphill climb as other behaviors may have been receiving more merit.
- Establish Norms
Norms develop over time sometimes so subtly that no one can put their finger on what is happening until some situation comes to a head through confrontation, failure, or high turnover turns on our alert whistle. Complicating this even further, there are both individual and team norms. As an example, the level of understanding team members have of one another underlies both emotions and each members identification within the team. Bear in mind that each time a team member enters or leaves, the dynamics change. Therefore, if there is heavy turnover, one can readily discern that chaos can and often does develop. Add to this, the expense of turnover and the profitability picture is not pretty.
Most every team has a leader and as we know, leaders must set the example. Setting the example for EQ, as is the case with leadership, accountability, strategic thinking and EQ, self-awareness is the foundation. Therefore, leaders must be willing to look at and evaluate self before attempting to establish a level of EQ in their teams. In doing so a leader begins to cultivate self-management, being a more effective communicator, having social awareness, and being able to both better handle and reduce conflict. Of course, the idea of self-awareness needs to apply to every team member.
- Work and Hang Time
While no one wants to spend every waking moment with other people, even their families, some business leaders believe that if team members spend some time together outside of work that it can be beneficial. There is always the chance that a relationship can go south and create tension. Depending on what brought the relationship down, if team members have high EQ and have norms on dealing with conflict, it could just be a small glitch. On the other hand, if the relationship dissolves over some moral issue, that could be an entirely different story.
Team members need the freedom to learn and grow. What new policies, procedures, technological innovations, systems, or products might help solve challenges, help the team be more productive, or allow the team to create new products or services? Employee development doesn’t stop at the edge of team membership. It is the responsibility of the team leader to recognize and grow talent for succession planning efforts.
- A Voice
Team members must have a voice in their own management, progress, and development. The idea of voice also includes their ability to communicate. Teams need to understand how to engage in active listening, have good eye contact (remember that?), be alert to theirs and others’ body language. Further, norms must be established on creating norms on expressing frustration. That goes for expression opinions and ideas. Any negative trends need to be nipped in the bud and addressing them quickly is better than letting feelings fester.
Team members need to be accountable for their own actions, outcomes, mistakes, and careers. Having strong accountability norms helps eliminate blaming and victim thinking. In addition, an accountable person can better handle emotions and often prevent negative emotional buildup and conflict.
- Handling Difficult Situations
Handling difficult situations and conversation doesn’t come easy for most people. It is a wise leader who affords employees the ability to be assertive and stand up for themselves when necessary, not be bullied, or thrown off guard just because another team member has a different opinion, or simply express their own opinion, and navigate conflict.
- Just Say “No.” to Clones
Putting people on your teams who are just like you kills diversity, innovation, productivity, and EQ. If you are in a leadership position and are afraid to have people on your team who ask questions, disagree with you, or who can entertain other perspectives, then it’s time to step aside. It’s time to allow a leader to lead who can think more critically, be open to innovative ideas, and who doesn’t need “Yes.” people surrounding them.
- Change Training
OK, perhaps this one should be 9 ½ because it is part of education and training. However, having the ability to handle change well in today’s environment is essential in maintaining EQ. No one needs to remind any of us about how rapidly changes occur in technology, medicine, mergers and acquisitions, the market, and on and on. Teams with the ability to handle change score high in EQ and maintain and even increase productivity. How is that possible? It’s possible because if team members learn how to embrace, use, and manage change, the transitions are easy for everyone and stress levels spiral downward.
Thank you or reading this blog. For more ideas on how to build EQ in your teams, Let’s Get Started!
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