As we learnt in class, emotions are inseparable part of ourselves. Numerous scientific researches show that our emotional brain is much more active than our thinking brain. That is probably why our logical brain that encompasses reasoning and decision-making skills can be subservient to and influenced by our emotions at times. With this flow, it is not surprising that our emotions in the workplace are largely related to motivation and job performance.
So, how far should emotions be discussed in organisations?
There are many other behavioural aspects such as teamwork that affects, a broader term for both emotions and moods, have impact on. Hence, we cannot further emphasise the importance of understanding and managing our emotions in organisations. For the purpose of this write-up, I will focus on the significance of emotions and emotional intelligence (EI) in learning and development (L&D), a Human Resources (HR) area that I am most interested in.
Emotionally intelligent individual has effective awareness, control and management of his/her emotions as well as awareness and understanding of other people. (NealeArnell, 2009) Howard Gardner describes these aspects of intelligence as intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligence. With greater understanding of deep emotions, you can better manage yourself at work and improve the way you work with others.
Here is a short video on ‘what makes an emotionally intelligent leader’ and ‘what impacts they make on people in their organisations’.
Though the concept of EI is highly applicable to all levels of employees, it is especially useful for managers and HR staff who facilitate L&D to bring about the best in people.
We all know the increasing importance of talent development in this rapidly changing world. Sparrow and Knight (2006) argue that all change should be based on 4 main elements of KASH model- Knowledge, Attitudes, Skills and Habits. However, most of the time, our approaches are largely driven by transfer of knowledge and skills, forgetting the importance of other aspects that are related to our emotions. I strongly believe that paying attention to EI can effectively improve the effectiveness of the training programmes. For instance, with self-knowledge, you are able to identify areas you think you need to improve or change. These thoughts give rise to positive attitudes towards learning, which once achieved, develops into new habit.
Though the above-mentioned training approach based on 4 aspects has its own benefits in some cases, my thoughts are with Galileo Galilei who once said, “You cannot teach a man anything. You can only help him discover it within himself”. In contemporary business environment, employees are faced with abstract business problems and are rewarded for creativity and innovation. I personally think that traditional training methodologies focused on passing down knowledge and skills are becoming more irrelevant. On the other hand, EI coaching provides guidance to solving problems and achieving goals rather than offering individuals model answers. It involves active listening, questioning (non-judgemental), empathy and authentic rapport, all of which require high emotional intelligence. (NealeArnell, 2009)
Despite all the advantages of EI coaching, what could hinder its effectiveness?
Being highly reliant on emotions, interpreting and understanding employees’ emotions accurately would be most important. However, as we have discussed in class, what we feel deep down may not be the same as what we display to others. Another limitation could also rise from the fact that the coachee may not be fully aware of him/herself. For example, while women are generally known to be more emotional and attuned to our inner self, men are more ‘emotion-less’. Is that really true? Watch the video below which talks about men and their lack of vocabulary list related to emotions.
How can we minimise the weaknesses of EI coaching?
As mentioned in the first video, EI can be taught. Though the initial trainings may be costly and time-consuming, I strongly believe that its benefits outweigh the costs. It is all about building relationship, retaining and grooming the right talent to lead organisations’ growth.
I learnt that emotions and moods are essential aspects to understand ‘who’ goes to work and ‘how’ they behave at work. Also, I feel that we should not see ‘emotions and moods’ as taboo in organisations but should acknowledge and manage them appropriately. Especially in L&D, emotional intelligence is the fundamental aspect to ensure employees learn, apply and transfer their knowledge within organisations.
Neale Wilson Arnell. (2009). “Emotional Intelligence Coaching.” Kogan Page.