Creating an Emotionally Intelligent Organizational Culture

OrgCultureOne of the most common calls we receive as Organizational Development Consultants is a request for support (often an immediate or urgent need) with an individual contributor, manager, high-level leader, department, leadership team, or entire organization experiencing ongoing, unresolved conflict. This conflict often manifests in individuals stonewalling the efforts of others, covert or overt sabotage, cultures of lack of accountability, increasing dissention and disengagement, mounting interpersonal tensions, and ultimately a loss in production, collaboration, and revenue.

According to an article by the Institute for Health and Human Potential, “Executive Summary-The Business Case for Emotional Intelligence”: 

  • The main reasons organizations lose customers and clients are 70 percent related to a lack of emotional skills by customer representatives.
  • Seventy-five percent of careers are derailed for reasons related to emotional competencies, including inability to handle interpersonal problems; unsatisfactory team leadership during times of difficulty or conflict; or inability to adapt to change or elicit trust.
  • After a Motorola manufacturing facility provided training in stress management and emotional intelligence, productivity increased for 93 percent of employees.

Statistics like these abound. Essentially, the business compass points to a rapidly growing need for organizations, small and large, to invest in Emotional Intelligence competence building. Research consistently shows that over 80 percent of the competencies that differentiate top performers are tied directly to Emotional Intelligence skills and capabilities. Emotional Intelligence (abbreviated as “EQ” or “EI”) is a term popularized by Daniel Goleman and refers to a well-developed ability to identify the source and impact of and then regulate one’s own emotions, and subsequently the ability to understand and effectively influence the emotions (and thus behaviors) of others.

Taking this theory from idea to an engrained habit necessitates commitment to employee development and embedding EQ into the organization’s culture. Investigative reporter, researcher, and author, Charles Duhigg, “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business,” cites Starbucks as an example of an organization
that chose to make the practice/habit of EQ a way of life for their employees. Starbucks is known for investing millions for research and development into training their workforce in how to regulate their emotions and cultivate self-discipline and resilience. This has helped Starbucks build an empire with revenues over $10 billion a year.

How might an organization take steps toward making EQ a workplace habit?

1. Work with Organizational Development consultants to do a cultural assessment about the current health
and engagement of the workforce to determine employees’ needs and readiness.

2. Identify realistic goals, timeframes, and strategies for implementing EQ training and support.

3. Commit to creating a culture that consistently rewards employees for instituting EQ business practices.Neuroscience research shows that new habits are formed when the reward/payoff for new behaviors is greater than rewards of previous, long-standing behaviors.

4. Identify a guiding vision and motto. Howard Behar, former president of Starbucks said, “We’re not in the coffee business serving people. We’re in the people business serving coffee.”

What kind of business and culture are you creating?