Perceive, Acknowledge and Manage

September 30, 2015 02:04 AM

Understand how emotional intelligence affects your team

You want your employees to be passionate, happy and motivated on the job. What are you doing to ensure they are? 

Emotional intelligence, a popular human resources concept, gauges your ability to understand and respond to the emotions of others. 

“You have to be conscious of the world around you,” says Gail Johnson, president of Face to Face Communications and Training Inc. 

Take Note. Conflict can arise if leaders assume how employees will respond to a situation. 

“Sometimes we set goals at the management level but don’t communicate those to the entire team,” Johnson says. “You need all employees to understand how their part plays into the whole picture.”

The first step to being sensitive to your team’s emotions is to check in. Johnson suggests asking questions such as: How is the work going? Are you doing something you enjoy? Are you getting what you need from us?

This process will give you the pulse of employee morale. It will also give you a gut feeling if something is wrong. “They’ll just seem a little off,” she says. “The natural instinct is to avoid those situations. But it will affect their work. Don’t see needing help as a weakness. Instead, use it as opportunity to improve.”

Farm managers can communicate more effectively with their teams if they are self-aware, understand their emotions and show empathy, says Marsha Thompson, director of leadership development for Farm Credit Mid-America.

“You can also use those skills to be better partners with your customers,” Thompson explains.

Update existing job descriptions to make emotional intelligence a core competency, adds Natasha Cox, regional vice president at Farm Credit Mid-America. This creates a benchmark from which to grow as an organization.  

“I encourage farm managers to host face-to-face listening sessions with their teams and their business partners, internally and externally,” Cox says. Managers should focus on getting feedback from employees.

Farm managers can also use  peer-to-peer coaching and a formal employee appraisal process. “We are seeing more of this happening, which is evidence that awareness of emotional intelligence is growing in agribusiness,” Cox says. 

By Nate Birt


Positive Thinking Powers Results

If emotional intelligence informs how we approach other people, a related (and trademarked) term, Positive Intelligence, defines how we manage ourselves to produce better business results. The phrase is also the title of a book by the same name, authored by Shirzad Chamine of the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

In his neuroscience-based book, Chamine argues everyone wrestles with Saboteurs—internal voices that seed doubt about our skills and abilities, interfering with the brain’s productivity. He advises combating self-doubt with these steps.

Label And Let Go. Identify negative voices immediately and give them a name—for example, Judge or Controller—before dismissing them entirely.

Embody The Sage. The alternative to the Saboteur is the Sage, a frame of mind that focuses on identifying opportunities in situations that otherwise seem hopeless. Focus on identifying solutions.

Think Smarter. Research shows short bursts of total attention to our five senses can quickly course-correct the brain as it spirals toward negativity. Chamine recommends spending 10 seconds at a time focused on a single sensation—for example, the sound of the clock ticking in your office or the feeling of breathing in and out—and repeating the process 100 times daily. Sound overwhelming? Reps can be done in batches during routine activities and only take 17 minutes total.


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