Training and Emotional Intelligence
This Thursday we interviewed Cristina Martínez Ballestero, founder of Umanbi and expert in transforming organizations into Emotionally Intelligent Organizations. Her direct experience leading teams and leading Emotional Intelligence and Mindfulness programs make her a leader to look up to. Thus, in the following interview we address the importance of training employees in Emotional Intelligence for organizational 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 in the textile sector. My role was to run different stores, so a large part of my job was to keep people motivated to get good results. I put a lot of focus on achieving the objectives and for this I realized that it was essential that people were committed. I remember that I hung a picture in my office with a phrase that I found online and that became a reference for my day to day: “The most productive work is the one that comes from a happy person.”
Day by day I paid a lot of attention to what was happening around me, to the gestures of the people on my team, tone of voice … you can discover a lot about how people are, about their commitment … etc. simply by being attentive. I did not avoid any difficult conversation, 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 and safe; and for that you need a lot of Emotional Intelligence.
Little by little I was training in this field, in addition to starting to practice Mindfulness to remove some daily stress and look where, the two things had a lot to do with it. It is essential to manage attention well and become familiar with the processes of our brain, which is what Mindfulness trains to be able to later be aware of our emotions, behaviors, and those of others, which is a key skill to be Emotionally Intelligent.
I felt that I was doing my job better and better and that the people around me “shone” more than ever. So, at one point I decided to dedicate all my time to training in this field, I really believe that Emotionally Intelligent leaders are necessary in all sectors not only in the business world.
Going directly to the subject, what does emotional intelligence consist of in relation to organizations?
Emotional Intelligence is basically the ability to recognize your own emotions and those of other people and use this information to guide thought and behavior wisely. Like anything else it can be used for different purposes, for me it is a method to maximize well-being: It is about taking care of yourself and the people around you and from there many important benefits for organizations are derived 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 connection with the people around us, who respect and appreciate us. This desire is always with us, it does not stay at the door when you walk into work or when you act as the client. To be able to generate such an environment, Emotional Intelligence is essential.
It is so important that the World Economic Forum points to Emotional Intelligence as one of the 10 key skills most in demand in organizations, 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 that a good boss must have for you, most of the things you are going to tell me will have to do with Emotional Intelligence: That they know how to inspire and motivate others, that they show integrity and honesty, that they communicate effectively but also with affection, who knows how to collaborate and promote teamwork, that fosters meaningful relationships with people …
Mastering emotional intelligence is the biggest individual differentiator in leadership today. It is estimated that 90% of the difference in outstanding leaders is linked to their Emotional Intelligence.
But, in addition, with the transformation of the Industrial Society into a Knowledge Society, the key skills of a worker have changed. At this time, it is extremely important to have people capable of seeing opportunities, creating new services and products, and motivated enough to generate that wealth. Let’s say that the advantage now is that people give 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 Agrarian Society, it was important to have the strongest people, capable of enduring continuous physical work. If you want to have a competitive workforce today it is necessary that you focus on taking care of your employees so that they give their best and Emotional Intelligence is key there.
What impact does training employees in emotional intelligence have on their well-being?
Today employees of organizations in all types of sectors report stress, exhaustion, conflict, communication problems, lack of connection on a human level. The leadership that is exercised in many cases, instead of being focused on enhancing the best in each employee, is focused on struggle and fear. Additionally, employees and leaders face continual change and have difficulty cultivating an adaptive mindset. All this negatively influences the results of organizations.
3 out of 4 employees between 24 and 38 years old express interest in their companies giving them mental care and support, for them it is really important that the company they work for takes care of them as people.
Additionally, 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 to organizational sustainability and profitability.
So, the question companies should be asking themselves today is: How can we take care of our employees?
Empowering Emotional Intelligence helps us to be aware of our emotions, thoughts and behaviors and facilitates the development of key skills for collaboration 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 about the factors that affect 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 organizational cultures. Unless all our employees have high Emotional Intelligence, it is necessary that we dedicate resources to this very important part of the day-to-day life of an organization. Until now, no attention was paid, now we have seen the weight that everything that happens inside has in the culture of the organization: how people relate to each other, with customers, the degree of commitment they have, well-being … Ultimately your results depend on all this.
Fostering a corporate culture that enhances self-awareness, emotional regulation, motivation, empathy, and other social skills is one of the main strengths regarding the human capital that an organization can develop.
What are the main aspects to consider when creating emotional intelligence training programs?
There are some important tips so that the actions we take in this field within an organization give results and be really effective:
The greater the number of people who can benefit from this type of training, the greater the transformation will be throughout the organization. It is important to train leaders at all levels, including the highest. The involvement of the Executive Team works in a cascade and will help employees understand that it is really important to the Organization.
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 internal motivation, have greater commitment, learn to better connect with other people, whether they are members of their team, clients or suppliers, and be able to create environments of “psychological safety” is key.
Alignment with the Organization’s values
Values are the principles that guide behaviors and decision-making in the Organization and are a lifeline to turn to when we are not clear about the conduct to follow. Check that these values are part of the Organization you want:
- Professional relationships based on trust
- Transparency, honesty and integrity
- Commitment to act being of service in each situation
- Exemplary leadership
- Collaboration and teamwork
- Importance of helping others to develop
- Constructive conflict management
- Importance of working with well-being and purpose
- Good communication
In addition, establishing ways to ensure that all people behave in accordance with the values will facilitate the transformation of the corporate culture.
Implement a good training program
Not all training programs are the same, so it is necessary to investigate what alternatives are on the market and make sure that you choose the program that your organization needs.
It is highly recommended that the instructors have experience and the program has already been applied in other organizations and is either created 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 is not so much about knowing what Emotional Intelligence is but about really learning to develop those skills: it is useless if you know what empathy is if you are not empathic later on. Many of the formations that exist are based only on theory, so they do not have any kind of impact.
A good alternative is “Search Inside Yourself” (SIY). SIY is an Emotional Intelligence development program for Leaders and Teams based on Mindfulness and Neuroscience that is the most demanded internal training program among Google employees. Organizations such as SAP, Intel, Netflix, Deutsche Telecom, American Express, Allianz, DHL, IBM, Pfizer, Price WaterhouseCoopers, Volkswagen, Huawei, Visa, Ikea Sweeden, Facebook, Linkedin, BBVA, Ferrovial, Euskadi Technology Parks, Banco Santander … They have already made it easy for 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 that the organization is doing to enhance Emotional Intelligence.
This, in addition to showing the leaders’ commitment to integrate these skills into the culture of the Organization, helps employees have frequent information and 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 regarding these Emotional Intelligence and mindfulness skills that we want to promote.
You can also choose some people who are especially interested in the subject to do a role of “champions”. Champions help other employees 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 learnings. These workers are very important to your success.
It is necessary that the training actions you undertake are accessible to everyone. This affects the number of people who will join and the more people who can benefit from this type of training, the greater the transformation will be throughout the organization.
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 expand the impact.
It is important to give continuity to the actions you undertake, if you want results and transformation, it is necessary to schedule periodic training to continue promoting the development of these Emotional Intelligence skills.
What tools can be used to ensure the success of this type of program?
In our training we provide tools for the day-to-day life of the organization: how to get to a meeting focused (important with the number of chained videoconferences we have), what to do when faced with a difficult negotiation, how to give feedback by empathizing, how to have a difficult conversation, how to regulate yourself in the face of an incendiary 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 mentality of growth … etc. The important thing is that they work, the theory is one thing, but from my own experience, it is the challenge it poses.
Some of the things that I recommend doing to the organization are:
– Start an apprenticeship program in which employees are trained.
– Perform periodic Workshops to work on different Emotional Intelligence skills.
– Create communities of practice of Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence with weekly sessions where a very human connection is also created between the people who attend.
– Use of apps like Wise at Work.
– Challenges to train skills such as the 28-day challenge we did in the “Search Inside Yourself” training program.
– Mini-retreats of one morning, one day … that can be virtual.
– Speaker series on Emotional Intelligence.
We thank Cristina Martínez for sharing part of her knowledge with us. To learn more about the importance of training in emotional intelligence, do not hesitate to connect to our next live on January 13 at 5:30 p.m. on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_7x3l-hzNo. We will fully interview Cristina to be able to cover aspects such as the challenges of companies in the creation of training programs, their impacts, tips, and much more; in addition to answering all questions from the public. You cannot lose this!