Can you Commit to Emotional Intelligence

4 Minutes Read


We are publishing this right before the Labor Day weekend. Consider this beach reading for the HR leader thinking about to reconcile all the trends facing their organizational cultures. Quiet quitting, hybrid, employee experience, yada yada. What if we stepped back from buzzwords honoring labor day and just talk about making work a little better for your groups?

We learn in school that we control how other people feel. Same is true about a colleague's emotions at work. All you can do is equip managers with skills around how to get people to process their emotions in productive ways and hopefully stick around and want to continue working in productive ways. 

Before I do let me wrap this up by following in the vein of turning the page to the next part of the year with some ideas about what you can do today to make your employee engagement platform more emotionally intelligent.



The question I started with was to ask if it can be done?  The good news is that not only can it be done it’s really not that hard to do it.


There are 3 principle means I recommend you can do this.  What they are is:


  • Encourage the adoption and use of decision journals
  • Work to make your employers more empathetic
  • Enhance your communication style.


Let me go into these in more detail.


Encourage the adoption and use of decision journals-Every organization loves decisions.  Who doesn’t right? But how do we track if they were good decisions or bad ones?  It seems we always get together and have these post-mortums.  Sure they have a purpose but like the term I just used the deed is done and the patient is already dead. In a figurative sense of course. 


What you should be doing is keeping a journal of each decision you make as you go along.  Take time to build this into the process. It can be quite helpful for those future discussions when you are looking for lessons to be learned for both the good, and bad things that may happen. You can gauge, among other things, the teams’ moods and who was executing highly.


This all ties into emotional intelligence in that it allows you the executive to work with your direct reports who can then work with their direct reports to see if there are any chinks in the armor that may be consistent with a team suffering some type of distress.  Perhaps the elements of the last project were not communicated effectively or employees felt like they were the proverbial cogs in the machinery.  Now you can go back and pinpoint where things went right and wrong and what they may have noticed about the teams’ reactions.


Whatever the reason a decision journals allows for a near real-time analysis of the mindset along the way so the micro-analysis of each step, and the adoption of a response with an emotionally intelligent base will serve the organization in its growth and success moving forward.


Work to make your leadership more empathetic-This is the point where many people roll their eyes and hear that becoming an emotionally intelligent organization is more than some silly catchphrase but a real program with real work behind it. It is something that will require you to invest in building a program that will encourage managers to present a human side.  One that will help build the team stronger. 


I can’t stress enough how important it is that you take this step seriously.  We work in a world where the idea that we can’t have emotions in the workplace because the workplace is a cold environment only results in the workplace becoming a colder environment. We also live in a world where in order to feel that we are doing something about this, many organizations use routines that seem to exist so that the goal of having something can be accomplished. 


What I am saying is that this is at the core of emotional intelligence.  Demonstrate emotion by recognizing your employees are not the cogs of some vast machine and making them know it.  We need to connect to our teammates on a personal level.  This has never been more important than it is now since we return to the workplace and, in many cases, meet each other for the first time.  


The only way to do this is by becoming more empathetic. The challenge is that there is really no one, proven, way to do this.  Becoming more empathetic is something that each manager must determine on their own.  While there should be plenty of room to work with each manager you have to let them be their own person.  To do otherwise would damage the entire process. 

Enhance your communication style-You know what? My communications could use some improvement.  So could yours and the person next to you too. Now that we have established this universal understanding let’s talk about how this all ties back to emotional intelligence,


Let me make this simple, it’s everything an organization needs to do well if it is to be a truly emotionally intelligent organization. While what you say is vital, we should focus now on how you deliver the message. Minor adjustments in how we present can be welcome.  Show a personal touch that allows your employee to know that you really do know who they are, what they did and why it, and they, matter.


You also need to set a standard for yourself.. One example could be to set a minimum of 25 words when you recognize your employees. Is this number arbitrary? Yes, it is!  But I recommend it, and more importantly the mindset behind it. Doing something like this requires you to put some thought into it. 


Rather than dish out a quick, “nice job Bill,” you have to recall what the person did and why you are recognizing them for it. It requires you to recall that thought that makes you remember why what they did is deserving of recognition.  In fact, if you set a lofty goal for your notes by setting a minimum number of words you are making an effort that truly demonstrates empathy and the generous nature required of any leader that hopes to be an empathetic one demonstrating strong emotional intelligence. 


So here are the 3 main takeaways for you.


  • Decision journals are a great tool for an organization on so many levels. They can serve as a valuable guide for management to work with direct reports on what happened and when and how best to recognize these achievements.


  • Encourage your leadership to become more empathetic.  Saying that is the easy part it’s doing it that is the great challenge. There is no one proven way to do this since we all express empathy in our own way. But the process for each should help the solution for all become much better.


  • Enhance your communication style.  First, the key word to me is style.  You may very well be doing the right thing now making it more approachable to those who work with you.  Set a goal of a minimum number of words so that you have to put thought into what you say. Make sure that your style shows that the appreciation is genuine and not another example of going through the processes. 


Emotional intelligence is the difference between success and failure in many organizations.  Do you want engaged employees who know they are recognized and appreciated and contribute their best work? Then engage them as people and recognize them.  Emotional intelligence will require you to put in real work and has to be seen as more than some item or fad to use today and discard a week from now. If you are willing to take it seriously and work hard then you’ll like what you see! 


Todd Horton