A group of professional internal consultants from Chicago invited me to facilitate a professional development network session on the subject of Emotional Intelligence (EI). Because this group was comprised of highly seasoned professionals, I decided to draw upon their expertise. I developed a highly interactive program with the objective of having the group identify the significance of Emotional Intelligence in the workplace.

After defining Emotional Intelligence and providing some examples of the results obtained from our applied EI skill-building programs, I asked the group to divide into three smaller groups and note on flipcharts what issues or problems could be improved within their organizations by increasing EI skills. The groups were given 10 minutes to identify and discuss the problems or issues and then reported on their lists. Below is a composite, alphabetized list of 45 identified issues.

- Absenteeism

- Call reluctance

- Change management

- Coaching

- Communication

- Conflict management

- Creativity

- Culture change

- Customer satisfaction

- Decision-making

- Developing leaders

- Efficiency

- Emergencies

- Employee engagement

- Employee satisfaction

- Expectation setting

- Goal attainment

- Goal setting

- Grievances

- Group interaction

- Health care costs

- Lawsuits

- Leadership

- Lost time accidents

- Mergers

- Non-union status

- Patient safety

- Performance management

- "Politics"

- Problem solving

- Process improvement

- Productivity

- Project management

- Quality

- Retention

- Sales/revenue

- "Silo" mentality

- Stress

- Succession planning

- Supplier relations

- Teamwork

- Thought clarity

- Trust/loyalty

- Work/life balance

- Workplace violence

It's quite eye opening to see this expansive list which is, most likely, not all-inclusive. I can't think of any other organizational improvement intervention that has the potential to positively impact so may organizational problems concurrently. Development of Emotional Intelligence skills does not just improve leadership competencies or management skills. It has a far-reaching effect. Our clients have experienced dramatic improvements. Participants in our programs have reported a range of 20% to 35% increase in personal productivity, 15% to 35% increased teamwork, a 20% to 40% reduction in stress and worry, and similar improvements in management of emotional reactiveness, personal motivation, creativity, work/life balance and more.

As always, I like to be conservative when conducting impact interviews to gather results. Let's be even more conservative by cutting the above ranges in half. What would a 10% to 20% reduction in stress and worry, a 10% to 17% increase in personal productivity, or a 7% to 17% increase in teamwork mean to your organization? Since we know that stress impacts health, we can infer that there may well be an indication of reduced health care costs which, in turn, directly and positively impacts the organizational bottom line.

Let's look at a few other areas identified by our group of experts. One of the toughest issues on the list is grievances. Despite its difficult nature, one of our participants, using simple, proven techniques, was able to resolve grievances at the first step in the process and reported a significant reduction in step 2 grievances. And in another specific example, a participant reported an increase in employee engagement. When he started applying the techniques, his direct reports viewed him as more approachable and presented an idea that, when implemented, saved the location the equivalent of 10 people per year. This roughly translates to about $300,000 toward the bottom line.

I always enjoy stories from the transportation industry. When asked about improvement in resolving or managing conflict, one participant stated, "This is huge! I used to thrive on the conflict. Now I avoid it. It's a daily issue. Now I will talk between dock guys and drivers. Now we're not yelling and throwing stuff. It would get ugly sometimes - wresting matches at times. Drivers are rough around the edges and can get pushy/feely. I was always the first one to step up. This hasn't happened in awhile. Arguments don't break out now. I let people vent and explain why (the issue is they way it is) or I don't say anything (just let them vent and be heard)."

The point is that helping people at all levels of the organization to develop their EI skills helps improve or resolve multiple problems and issues. It is far more effective to leverage scarce resources with EI skill-building as opposed to focusing on narrow, targeted interventions such as conflict management or change management, or communication.

Author's Bio: 

Byron Stock guides individuals and organizations toward excellence by helping them develop their Emotional Intelligence skills as a powerful tool to achieve strategic objectives, lead change and create resilient, high-performing organizational cultures. Visit ByronStock.com to learn about Byron's quick, easy, proven techniques to harness the power of your Emotional Intelligence.