It’s easy to see the value of technical skills and business acuity. These are both qualities that help to ensure success in marketing and trading. However, there is a trait that many employers overlook, emotional intelligence.
Not every employee has emotional intelligence. It’s a skill that you have to build and nurture. That’s why so many brands are investing in emotional intelligence training for their teams.
Many companies now consider emotional intelligence (also known as emotional quotient or EQ) during the hiring process. The best employers also offer emotional intelligence training as part of their overall employee development initiatives.
What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the capacity to recognize and control one's own emotions as well as comprehend the emotions of others. EQ is a combination of skills that can be taught and nurtured through various training programs. Individuals with an above-average EQ are able to build stronger relationships, reduce the stress of other team members, defuse workplace conflict, and improve their overall job satisfaction as well as other team members.
These emotional intelligence skills fall within one of these categories: self-awareness, self-control, social awareness, and interpersonal relationships.
You can teach many skills within these domains to increase EQ. For example, self-awareness requires someone to learn to recognize and identify complex feelings they are having. Interpersonal relationships require empathy and active listening skills.
What is emotional intelligence training for employees?
Emotional intelligence training enhances individuals' ability to understand and manage emotions effectively. It covers self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, social skills, and relationship management. By developing emotional intelligence competencies, individuals improve communication, conflict resolution, teamwork, leadership, and overall emotional well-being.
While some people seem to exhibit emotional intelligence naturally, most need help to develop it. That’s why emotional intelligence training is a vital part of any company’s learning and development strategy.
Benefits of emotional intelligence
Emotional Intelligence (EI) enhances communication and conflict resolution by understanding others' emotions. It promotes empathy, improving relationships and workplace dynamics. High EI individuals make better leaders due to deeper team connections. Personal benefits include increased self-awareness, self-regulation, and improved mental health.
Here are the benefits of emotional intelligence training that businesses can expect to achieve once training is complete:
1. Helps Employees to Move to the Next Level
What happens when an employee has gone as far as they can go in their current position, but they don’t seem quite ready for a leadership position? They may feel frustrated, as though their career path has gone stagnant. One way to help push them forward is to offer emotional intelligence training.
Emotional intelligence training helps employees develop leadership skills and characteristics executives want to see in their managers. That includes:
- Being calm in a crisis
- Dealing well with upset customers and employees
- Exemplifying self-control
- Approaching problems methodically
With the proper employee training, a team member who seems to have peaked could be a future leader.
2. Reduces Stress
It’s perfectly normal for a workplace to be stressful. That’s a sign of growth, encountering new challenges, and working towards new goals. Unfortunately, workplace stress can lead to maladaptive behaviors and reduced productivity.
Thankfully, this is one more thing that emotional intelligence training can address. Employees with a high EQ can:
- Manage their reactions to other’s emotions
- Recognize and control their own negative feelings
- Take responsibility for their reactions
- Manage their expectations
- Engage in positive interpersonal relationships
One of the most undeniable benefits of emotional intelligence training is that teams learn to work together under stress.
3. Teaches Employees How to React to Constructive Criticism
Nobody enjoys receiving negative feedback. It can drive people to become defensive or bite back with an emotional reaction. That does nothing to improve the performance issue at hand and creates a hostile atmosphere. Who wants to work with an employee who cannot absorb criticism and improve based on that input?
If you implement an emotional intelligence training program, your team members will learn to avoid acting and speaking defensively. Instead, they will better recognize and control any negative emotions they may feel at the moment.
4. Helps Employees Conquer Their Fears, Doubts, and Insecurities
Everybody has setbacks, failed projects, and doubts about themselves from time to time. They get upset, disappointed, and anxious. The difference between top performers and those that struggle is emotional intelligence.
Have you ever felt that your team members struggled to get past disappointment or let minor setbacks derail them? If yes, emotional intelligence in the workplace can equip them with the competencies they need to be more resilient and move forward positively.
5. Improves Communication Skills
When someone can’t manage their emotions, they end up expressing their feelings. That’s not always a good thing for workplace communication. One of the notable benefits of emotional intelligence training is that rather than expressing emotions (usually negative), your team members will learn to:
- Recognize their emotions
- Take responsibility for that feeling
- Communicate what they need rather than how they feel
Imagine someone on your team has helped solve an important problem, but they feel like others have taken credit for their work. Of course, that’s frustrating. Someone with low EQ might behave passive-aggressively or send out an angry email venting their feelings. Of course, that leads to more negative fallout.
Now, imagine someone who has gone through interactive emotional intelligence training. That employee would recognize their feelings of frustration, acknowledge why they feel that way, and then plan to communicate with their teammates. Then, they would articulate their problem and what they would like you to do to resolve the issue.
6. Enhances Social Skills
Between the increasing number of remote teams, murky RTO plans, and a globalized workforce, employees spend less time interacting with one another. That can harm their social and interpersonal skills. With emotional intelligence training, teams will have some tools available to them to navigate social situations smoothly.
7. Creates a Positive Environment
Most managers have seen it beforeㅡsomeone have a negative, emotional reaction to something, and they share their bad mood with the team. Before long, the negativity spreads. Morale nose-dives.
One of the things that people learn during emotional intelligence training is awareness. Specifically, they come to see how their emotions can negatively influence others if they don’t manage them. Additionally, they’ll also learn to recognize opportunities to act as positive examples. For example, rather than participating in a group complaint session over mandatory overtime, someone with high emotional intelligence will get the team to focus on staying positive.
8. Increases Frustration Tolerance
Frustration tolerance is the ability to deal with setbacks, inconveniences, and irritations without having an adverse, unproductive reaction. That is a key skill to develop in any workplace, especially when it’s crucial to deal with other people’s behaviors rationally.
Thanks to emotional intelligence skills development, employees can learn skills that will allow them to react better to frustrations. That will lead to better interactions between employees and improved customer service.
9. Shows Employees Their Limits
Emotional intelligence training doesn’t serve to eliminate negative emotions. It simply provides tools and techniques for dealing with them. As part of this training, employees learn to recognize their feelings and their personal limits. Then, they can plan their interactions and activities accordingly. For example, an employee who realizes that they are irritable may decide to reschedule a potentially contentious conversation with a co-worker to avoid becoming too emotional.
10. Helps Employees Deal with Change And Uncertainty
Things can become emotionally charged when change occurs. Employees may experience feelings of uncertainty and doubt. Stress can peak while morale and productivity take a nosedive. All of these feelings intensify if the change is sudden or negative.
Since you can’t avoid change一especially not in business一the only option for dealing with it is healthy emotional intelligence. If employees have had the proper training, they can accept change, determine the best response, and make beneficial adjustments. Again, these are all healthy skills that your employees can learn through emotional intelligence training.
11. Shows Leaders How to Identify Potential Mental Health Risks
When workplaces become stressful, or conflict is the norm, that can seriously impact employee mental health. Emotional intelligence in the workplace isn't a skill only for employees to learn. It should be mandated for management, as well. These courses can teach leaders to recognize negative emotions, inadequate coping mechanisms, and other indicators that an employee or even an entire team is struggling.
When this happens, they can offer help and support earlier, before a good employee finds themselves in a bad place or a team can no longer meet its goals.
12. Increases Sense of Accountability
Mistakes happen. Employees fail to meet their goals. Teams work on projects that end up failing miserably. Sadly, when management fails to support EQ development, the after-effects of these setbacks often include:
- Assigning blame
- Refusal to communicate
- Inability to see the situation from different perspectives
- Lack of empathy
Ultimately, employees with poor emotional intelligence will spend too much time fighting about the problem or passing blame rather than resolving the issue. On the other hand, employees with high EQ are capable of taking responsibility for their mistakes. When failures happen, it’s easier for them to control their emotional responses and focus on problem resolution instead.
13. Fosters Better Leadership
When team management can use EQ skills to understand employee emotions and responses, they can draw intelligent conclusions. Specifically, they can identify things that act as positive motivators for each team member and other things that discourage employees. That is exceptionally helpful in identifying things that could increase employee engagement and productivity.
14. Strengthens Team or Group Cohesiveness
Imagine an environment where people express themselves positively, take responsibility for their emotions, and deal with negative feelings productively. That is what teams need to communicate with one another, understand each other’s needs, and avoid being bogged down by confrontation. When employers offer quality emotional intelligence training, they can achieve that.
15. Improves Client Service
It’s difficult enough to deal with a customer who is rude or unreasonable. The situation worsens if an employee becomes flustered or emotional. You certainly don’t want employees to become so frustrated that they become defensive or attempt to match wits. Sadly, these are all things that can happen if someone lacking in emotional intelligence faces an angry or simply rude customer.
However, if that employee has had EQ training, they will know how to:
- Recognize the customer’s emotions without taking them personally
- Identify and control their own negative emotions
- Show empathy for the customer
- Work towards a solution without allowing their emotions to take over
- Develop intelligence over emotions
It’s even possible for someone to use emotional intelligence to learn to take negative interactions and move them in a positive direction.
How Can Company Leadership Deliver EQ Training?
The first step will be to get buy-in from any stakeholders. It may be challenging to convince people of the value of this training. Be prepared to share the proven benefits of emotional intelligence training and directly connect between productivity and improved EQ.
Provide Employees with EQ Assessments
Since the 1990s, professionals have designed several tests to measure EQ. You can use a learning platform to administer these tests and discover more about each employee. The test results will give you a framework as well as solid details to play off of namely, employee strengths and weaknesses. Once you have your results, you can use that information to design learning tracks that address the most pressing needs.
Consider sharing the results with each team member individually. If you are going to allow self-directed learning, this information will help them prioritize.
Select or Design the Right Training
Emotional intelligence training is a program that you can design entirely in-house if you prefer. There are also multiple third-party course providers with entire series on this topic. If you’d like to or you find it necessary, you can even choose a hybrid method. The key is to determine what works for your environment and meets the needs of your team.
Keep in mind that you are trying to address the four domains. The topics you choose for your emotional intelligence training program might include:
- Mindfulness meditation
- Effective verbal communication skills
- Understanding the impact of cultural differences on communication
- Dealing with change and conflict
- Team-building activities to foster cooperation and collaboration
- Active listening skills
- Conflict management
- Peer relationship development
The list could go on.
Choose a Learning Platform
Here, you face a complex subject and an audience that likely has wide-ranging needs and competencies. You are also working on teaching a range of topics and accommodating different learning styles.
You need a learning platform that is flexible and functional enough to allow you to do that. Once you’ve created your EQ training program, you need a platform that can support:
- Self-directed online learning
- Video learning
- Assessments before, during, and after the course
- Creation of multiple learning tracks
- Storage of images, videos, and other digital assets
- Device independence
- The creation of an employee knowledge-base
Those are some pretty steep requirements. That is why it’s almost always advisable to go with a vendor-provided solution here.
Deliver the Training to a Test Audience
A bit of beta testing is in order. If you offer your course to a limited audience, you can identify shortcomings in the curriculum and the delivery system before you go live. That will allow you to refine what you are offering further.
Release the Course to the Intended Audience
At this stage, you are ‘going live’ with your EQ training. In addition to delivering the course materials, you should be ready to deal with any support issues that might arise. Staff members may need help using the classroom technology or simply wonder how the classes will benefit them. Additionally, this kind of curriculum can approach some topics and scenarios that are a bit emotionally charged. Some guidance may be in order.
Any training course should be changed and improved over time. Effective instructors almost always create some sort of research instrument that allows them to collect meaningful feedback from students. You can use this information to identify what is working well, where classes may be more frustrating than helpful, and if any learning gaps still exist.
Track and Measure Results
How do you know if your emotional intelligence training series worked? Truthfully, you won’t know immediately. Instead, you have to track and measure training effectiveness. Here are some questions to consider:
- Has employee engagement improved?
- Is there an increase in productivity?
- What do the turnover numbers look like?
- Do managers perceive less conflict within their teams?
- Have customer complaints been reduced?
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to emotional intelligence training plans. That means one series may work well in one work environment, but its style and procedure may function poorly in another. Basically, you’ll have to determine what success looks like for your team. Then, you’ll use that analysis to select the best method for measuring that success.
Final Thoughts: You Need A Holistic Training Solution
The ideal EQ training program will be multi-faceted. There will be options for creating and delivering different types of training on many subtopics, support materials for ongoing education, integrations with third-party educational content, assessments, and self-directed learning.