Training and Emotional Intelligence

This Thursday we interview Cristina Martínez Ballestero, founder of Umanbi and expert in transforming organisations into Emotionally Intelligent Organisations. Her direct experience managing teams and leading Emotional Intelligence and Mindfulness programmes makes her a benchmark. In the following interview we discuss the importance of training employees in Emotional Intelligence for organisational success.

Welcome, Cristina. Before we begin, we would like to know more about you and your commitment to caring for people in HR management.

For 15 years I worked as a manager in a multinational textile company. My role was to manage different shops so a big part of my job was to keep people motivated to achieve good results. I put a lot of focus on achieving the objectives and to do this I realised that it was essential for people to be committed. I remember that I hung a picture in my office with a phrase that I found on the internet and that became a reference for my day-to-day work: "The most productive work is the one that comes from a happy person".

Day by day I was very attentive to what was going on around me, to the gestures of the people in my team, tone of voice... you can find out a lot about how people are, about their commitment...etc just by being attentive. I didn't let any difficult conversation go by, the truth is that if you ask people who worked with me at that time, they will tell you that I was very demanding with the results, but I always tried to do everything making people feel cared for, respected, safe and for that you need a lot of Emotional Intelligence.

Little by little I started to train in this field, and I also started to practice Mindfulness as a way to get rid of some of my daily stress and, as it turns out, the two things had a lot to do with each other. It is essential to manage our attention well and familiarise ourselves with the processes of our brain, which is what Mindfulness trains us to be able to be aware of our emotions, behaviours and those of others, this is a key skill to be Emotionally Intelligent.

I felt that I was getting better and better at my job and that the people around me were "shining" more than ever. So at a certain point I decided to dedicate all my time to training in this field, I really believe that Emotionally Intelligent leaders are needed in all sectors, not only in the business world.

  • Improving the adaptation of new employees.
  • It adds value to the employer brand.
  • It reduces employee stress and encourages self-evaluation.

Getting straight to the point, what is emotional intelligence in relation to organisations?

Emotional Intelligence is basically the ability to recognise one's own and other people's emotions and use this information to guide thinking and behaviour wisely. Like anything else it can be used for different purposes, for me it is a method for maximising wellbeing: It is about taking care of yourself and the people around you and from this comes many important benefits for organisations such as better performance, collaboration, creativity, leadership...

Let's not forget that we all want to feel safe, happy, fulfilled, that our lives have meaning and purpose, we also want to feel connected to the people around us, to be respected and appreciated. This desire is always with us, it doesn't just sit at the door when you walk into work or when you act as the customer. To be able to generate such an environment, Emotional Intelligence is essential.

It is so important that the World Economic Forum lists EQ as one of the top 10 key skills in demand in organisations, studies such as Future of Work 2022, Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Survey and Gallup also confirm this.

Why is it important to train employees in this area?

If I ask you about the characteristics you think a good boss should have, most of the things you will tell me will have to do with Emotional Intelligence: that he/she knows how to inspire and motivate others, that he/she shows integrity and honesty, that he/she communicates effectively but also with affectivity, that he/she knows how to collaborate and promote teamwork, that he/she fosters meaningful relationships with people...

Mastery of emotional intelligence is the single greatest differentiator in leadership today. It is estimated that 90% of the difference of outstanding leaders is linked to their EQ.

But, in addition, with the transformation of the Industrial Society into a Knowledge Society, the key skills of a worker have changed. It is now of utmost importance to have people who are able to see opportunities, create new services and products and are motivated enough to generate that wealth. Let's say that the advantage now lies in people giving the best of themselves. This knowledge society is also global, which makes collaboration another indispensable factor.

If you wanted to have a competitive workforce in the Agricultural Society it was important to have the strongest people, able to endure continuous physical work. If you want to have a competitive workforce today you need to focus on taking care of your employees so that they give their best, and here Emotional Intelligence is key.

What impact does training employees in emotional intelligence have on their well-being?

Today, employees of organisations in all types of industries report stress, burnout, conflict, communication problems, lack of connection on a human level. The leadership that is exercised in many cases instead of being focused on bringing out the best in every employee is focused on the struggle and fear. In addition, employees and leaders face continuous change and show difficulties in cultivating an adaptive mindset.. All this negatively influences the performance of organisations.

3 out of 4 employees aged 24-38 express an interest in mental care and support from their employers, for them it is really important that the company they work for takes care of them as a person.

In addition, workers who say their employers help them feel more connected report four times greater feelings of well-being at work.

Research studies corroborate that employee well-being is essential for organisational sustainability and profitability.

So the question companies should be asking themselves today is: How can we take care of our employees?

Enhancing Emotional Intelligence helps us to be aware of our emotions, thoughts and behaviours and facilitates the development of key collaboration skills such as empathy, emotional self-regulation, motivation, resilience and social skills. As a result, people show greater connection, creativity, resilience and well-being.

In a study by Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky on factors affecting happiness and well-being, she found that none were related to IQ alone, most were related to Emotional Intelligence.

What are the risks of not training in emotional intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence helps develop intrapersonal and interpersonal skills that positively impact organisational cultures. Unless all our employees have a high EQ, it is necessary to dedicate resources to this important part of the day-to-day life of an organisation. Until now, we have seen the weight that everything that happens inside the organisation has on its culture: how people relate to each other, to customers, the degree of commitment they have, wellbeing... ultimately your results depend on all of this.

Fostering a corporate culture that enhances self-awareness, emotional regulation, motivation, empathy and other social skills is one of the main human capital strengths an organisation can develop.

What are the main aspects to consider when developing emotional intelligence training programmes?

There are some important tips to ensure that the actions we take in this field within an organisation are effective:


The greater the number of people who can benefit from this type of training, the greater the transformation throughout the organisation. It is important to train leaders at all levels, including at the top. The involvement of the Executive Team cascades down and will help employees understand that it is really important for the organisation.

Remember that one of the keys to being an inspirational leader is having the ability to "lead yourself" in order to lead others.

That at all levels we train people to develop self-awareness and self-knowledge, learn to better regulate their emotions, discover their inner motivation, have greater commitment, learn to connect better with others whether they are team members, customers or suppliers and are able to create environments of "psychological safety" is key.

Alignment with the organisation's values

Values are the principles that guide behaviour and decision-making in the organisation and are a lifeline to fall back on when we are not clear about the behaviour to follow. Check that these values are part of the organisation you want:

  • Professional relationships based on trust
  • Transparency, honesty and integrity
  • Adaptability
  • Commitment to act as a service in every situation
  • Exemplary leadership
  • Collaboration and teamwork
  • Importance of helping others to develop
  • Constructive conflict management
  • Importance of working with wellbeing and purpose
  • Good communication

In addition, establishing ways to ensure that everyone behaves in accordance with the values will make it easier for you to transform the corporate culture.

Implementing a good training programme

Not all training programmes are the same, so you need to research what alternatives are on the market and make sure you choose the programme that your organisation needs.

It is highly recommended that the trainers are experienced and the programme has already been applied in other organisations and is either developed or adapted to this type of environment. Also make sure that it measures results and follows a method based on scientific evidence that helps to change habits.

It's not so much about knowing what EQ is, but about actually learning how to develop those skills: it's no use knowing what empathy is if you are not empathetic. Many of the training courses out there are based only on theory, so they don't have any kind of impact.

A good alternative is Search Inside Yourself (SIY). SIY is an Emotional Intelligence development programme for Leaders and Teams based on Mindfulness and Neuroscience that is the most demanded internal training programme among Google employees. Organisations such as SAP, Intel, Netflix, Deutsche Telecom, American Express, Allianz, DHL, IBM, Pfizer, Price WaterhouseCoopers, Volkswagen, Huawei, Visa, Ikea Sweeden, Facebook, Linkedin, BBVA, Ferrovial, Parques Tecnológicos de Euskadi, Banco Santander... have already provided it to many of their employees.

"Search Inside Yourself" achieves improvements in resilience, well-being, focus and attention, stress management, performance, communication and collaboration.


It is very important that there is clear and frequent communication about the actions the organisation is taking to enhance EQ.

In addition to showing the commitment of leaders to integrate these skills into the culture of the organisation, this helps employees to have frequent information and to know that this is something important. Intranet, newsletter, bulletins, meetings, posters in meeting rooms... it is important that in all of them there is a place to talk about actions, tools and milestones with respect to these EQ and mindfulness skills that we want to promote.

You can also choose a few people who are particularly interested in the topic to act as champions. Champions help other employees to integrate these new skills. They are people who are interested in being part of the change, have an attitude of service and collaboration with other colleagues and are willing to share learning. These workers are very important for success.

Accessible training

The training actions you undertake need to be accessible to all. This has an impact on the number of people who will join and the more people who can benefit from this type of training, the greater the transformation throughout the organisation.

It is important that they have all the information, that communities of practice are created that are easily accessible to all and that people are encouraged to join. Facilitating access will help you to scale up your impact.

It is important to give continuity to the actions you undertake, if you want results and transformation, it is necessary to schedule regular trainings to continue to enhance the development of these EQ skills.

What tools can be used to ensure the success of such programmes?

In our trainings we give tools for the day to day in the organisation: how to arrive at a meeting focused (important with the amount of chained videoconferences we have), what to do in a difficult negotiation, how to give empathetic feedback, how to have a difficult conversation, how to regulate oneself when faced with an inflammatory e-mail or a critical moment, how to work with people we don't like, how to feel "connected" when working remotely, how to manage mental overload, how to work when an obstacle arises to have a growth mindset...etc. The important thing is that they are useful, theory is one thing, but from our own experience, it is the challenge that they represent.

Some of the things I recommend the organisation do are:

-Initiate an apprenticeship programme in which employees are trained.

-Conduct periodic workshops to work on different EQ skills.

-Creating Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence communities of practice with weekly sessions where a very human connection is created between the people who attend.

-Use of apps such as Wise at Work.

Skills training challenges such as the 28-day challenge we ran in the "Search Inside Yourself" training programme.

-Miniretreats of a morning, a day... that can be virtual.

-Speaker series on Emotional Intelligence.

We would like to thank Cristina Martínez for sharing some of her knowledge with us. To learn more about the importance of emotional intelligence training, do not hesitate to connect to our next live show on 13 January at 17.30h on our Youtube channel: We will be interviewing Cristina in full to cover aspects such as the challenges companies face when creating training programmes, their impact, tips, and much more; as well as answering all the audience's questions. You can't miss it!

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