There’s no better time than now to develop our emotional intelligence (EI) skills in the workplace. Covid-19 has highlighted the need for us to nurture our relationships and improve the wellbeing of ourselves and others. EI can make or break a business – with effective EI programs found to improve the emotional intelligence of its participants by 17 percentile points. This has accounted for the rise in popularity by business professionals who are being asked to design their EI programs in-house.
How you can successfully implement your own EI program
Finding the suitable materials to formulate your own EI program can be daunting because there are many programs available. In a recent guest article for Training and Development Magazine, CEO of Genos International, Dr Ben Palmer outlined the three most important elements of an effective Emotional Intelligence Development program.
The following insights are from an article that originally appeared in Training & Development magazine, September 2021 Vol. 48 No. 3, published by the Australian Institute of Training and Development. Download the full article here.
1. The Content of the Program
Like any type of program, the content needs to be engaging, experiential, appeal to different learning styles and, most importantly, comprise practical tools and concepts that can be applied on the job.
Effective programs will also involve scenarios and real-plays (role plays) where participants practise applying tools and techniques during the session, receive feedback on their performance and then refine their approaches.
The use of an emotional intelligence assessment is also critical. When used in development programs, EI assessments help to increase self-awareness of the participants emotional intelligence levels. They can also aid in personalising learning programs, by helping participants to identify personal strengths and development opportunities
2. The Format of the Program
All good emotional intelligence programs entail the following:
- A clear purpose
- Expected outcomes
- An EI assessment
- A journey-style format
Dr Palmer talks about why journey-style formats are particularly important and subsequent sessions:
A journey session focuses on a development model or concept on one emotional intelligence skill at a time, starting with self-awareness. This learning journey format allows people to apply the tools and techniques provided in the program on the job. It also enables further learning to occur through practical application.
Subsequent sessions should start with reflection and include a peer-coaching or mentoring component to help facilitate participant-led learning. Between sessions, participants can be paired-up (and rotated each time) and asked to share their approaches and insights in how to apply the content.
3. The Skills of the Facilitator or Coach
I personally find that while formal qualifications provide a good basis, emotional intelligence itself is critical and perhaps more predictive of success.
Unlike the great swimming coach who cannot swim, those who teach emotional intelligence need to practise it themselves and apply or demonstrate it in their facilitation or coaching. Self-awareness, empathy, vulnerability, good story-telling ability, and the capacity to positively influence the way others feel, are key skills of an effective emotional intelligence facilitator or coach.
Key Outcomes of Incorporating the Three Elements
Palmer says if you choose well, expect strong return on investment.
On average, good programs have been found to improve emotional intelligence by 17 percentile points. This number is quite remarkable when you think about it. Ask yourself, what it might mean to you personally to improve your empathy and how you feel on a day-to-day basis, by even 2, 3or 4%? For businesses, the results can be game changing
For program participants, improvements in their emotional intelligence can be life changing. EI not only underlies how well we connect, communicate and influence at work, it also underpins the quality of our relationships outside of the workplace.
About Dr Ben Palmer
Dr Ben Palmer is the CEO of Genos International. He designed the first Australian model and measure of emotional intelligence in the late 1990s, now used in over 33 countries around the world in 28 different languages. He holds a PhD in psychology from Swinburne University, is an adjunct professor with Torrens University in South Australia and a fellow of AITD.