5 Strategies You Can Use to Build an Emotionally Intelligent Team
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Why has emotional intelligence (EI) been a buzzword since the 1990s? Well, it can lead to a healthier, happier and more fulfilling life. Professionally, it can make improve your performance and productivity. But, how can you build an emotionally intelligent team?
I recommend checking off the following items.
Work on yourself first
Let’s paint a picture here. You always wanted to be your own boss. Specifically, you wanted to be a gym owner. However, you’ve never obtained any sort of fitness certification — even worse, you aren’t in peak physical condition. If you put yourself in someone else’s shoes, why would they come to you? It just sounds like this would be a waste of time and money.
The same idea is true when it comes to EI. If you haven’t improved your own emotional intelligence, then how are you going to increase it among your team members?
If you’re new to this, I would strongly suggest that you first dispel common myths regarding EI. Examples would be that it’s only about empathy and self-awareness. While both are important, EI is more complex than that. In fact, EI encourages behavioral changes that can influence everything from our decision-making to physical well-being.
From there, you can boost your EI and become a better leader by:
- Surrounding yourself with people who have higher emotional IQs than you.
- Reading more often.
- Practicing active listening.
- Acknowledging and learning from your mistakes.
- Spending your downtime on activities like meditating or chess.
- Learning new skills and information.
- Seeing a therapist see with whom you can discuss your feelings and find ways to cope with them.
Prioritize time with each team member
If you feel you don't have the chance to identify your team's strengths and weaknesses, or allow your team to voice their individual concerns, make sure you prioritize time with each individual team member. That may seem like a daunting undertaking. But, it’s possible if you block out time in your schedule for one-on-ones. During breaks, you could walk around and check-in with them. Or, invite them to have lunch with you.
You can also understand your team better by engaging in team-building activities, issuing surveys or having them create work-style tables.
Encourage stress management
Stress, as you should know, can seriously put your health and well-being in jeopardy. What’s more, it can also damage relationships. Just recall any time that you’ve been stressed out and have been short or crude with a family member or colleague.
In short, you want to decrease stress levels among you and your team. One suggestion would be to partake in healthy outlets. Examples would be physical activity, meditation, journaling, or having a vent session.
You can also recommend tactics like:
- Creating and sticking to a consistent schedule — ideally around when you’re most productive.
- Encouraging breaks and time-off.
- Discouraging multitasking.
- Mastering the art of saying “no.”
- Resolving workplace conflicts in a timely manner.
- Practicing empathy more frequently.
Accelerate your organization’s positive impact
Your mileage may vary here. But, in my opinion, this typically means fostering a positive work environment and encouraging social responsibility. When you do, you’ll be able to improve everyone’s well-being, forge stronger bonds, and improve your community.
In a Calendar article, Angela Ruth writes that this can be done via strategies like tapping internal networks like Slack or paying it forward.
Establish team norms
In “Building the Emotional Intelligence of Groups”, Vanessa Urch Druskat and Steven B. Wolff state that in order to build an emotionally intelligent team there needs to be three conditions. These include trust among members, a sense of group identity, and a sense of group efficacy.
One effective way to meet these circumstances is by having rules in place that reflect your team’s values. They should also make everyone feel valued.
“Group emotional intelligence is about small acts that make a big difference,” write Druskat and Wolff. “It is not about a team member working all night to meet a deadline; it is about saying thank you for doing so.”
Have a more diverse team
Despite the research, this is an area where businesses are still struggling, and that’s a real shame.
One study from Erasmus University, Rotterdam found that diverse teams were more willing to learn than their homogeneous counterparts. Moreover, diverse companies are more innovative and creative. As a result, this can retain talent, fortify relationships, and even boost profits.
How can you construct a more diverse team? Well, recruiting and hiring the right people is an excellent starting point. For instance, you could use third-party websites and online job boards to cast a wider net. Additionally, you could take Harvard’s Implicit Association Test (IAT) to eliminate any unconscious bias.
From there, be willing to celebrate employee differences, and always stop to actually listen to what your team is saying.