Monday, April 27, 2009

Emotional Intelligence – How important it is in workplace

Emotional Intelligence as a necessity in workplace is fast gaining popularity these days. It has been observed and shown that because of their wide range of abilities, people with high emotional intelligence tend to be more successful in life than those with lower EQ (emotional quotient) even if their general IQ is average.

But before delving into its importance, let’s consider what it is all about.

Emotional intelligence as a concept was made popular by Daniel Goleman in his world famous book -- 'Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More than IQ', which is based on research by various eminent scientists such as Peter Salovey, John Meyer, Howard Gardner, etc. In simpler words, Emotional intelligence is the innate potential to feel, use, communicate, recognize, remember, describe, identify, learn from, manage, understand and explain emotions.

Similarly, Emotional Quotient is defined as a set of competencies demonstrating the ability one has to recognize his or her behaviors, moods, and impulses, and to manage them best according to the situation.

Actually, it is not hard to see what we are talking about here. Leaving aside the management jargon, it is as simple as being strong both physically and emotionally and to withstand emotional pressures at work. Even in our day to day life, we all are aware of certain people who simple cannot get hold of their emotions. They are too emotional to talk to. We avoid talking to certain type of persons who react rather strongly to things.There are some who cry at slightest trouble (especially women), some lose their temper at slightest provocation (especially men) and some who react even violently to certain situations.

This is exactly, what is being termed as emotional intelligence. That is intelligence to know and understand your emotions and not only understand but also being able to control them. So, when a person can understand his/her own reactions to situations and people, they are able to behave in much more appropriate manner at the workplace. And they are considered as more “matured” and reasonable to work with, for obvious reasons. Add to this the ability to understand other people also; relate to their situation, show understanding of their particular problem or issue , from their point of view and you get a person who can deal with people, understand their moods and issues and work accordingly. Who would not want to work with such people?

So, How does this behavioral intelligence translates into workplace success?

An employee with high emotional intelligence can manage and control his or her own impulses, communicate with others effectively by understanding others better and listening to them more effectively, handle unexpected changes easily, adapts to various situations, and solves problems. These employees are generally optimistic and do not react too overtly to any situation. The clarity in thinking and their composure in stressful and chaotic situations separates top performers from weak performers in the workplace. Obviously such people are a boon for any organization, but the vice versa is also true. That is, many people who are otherwise of average intelligence and good technical skills but emotionally weak lose out in career growth because of their weakness in controlling their emotions.

Experts have identified some emotional intelligence competencies that have been proven to contribute more to workplace achievement than technical skills, cognitive ability, and standard personality traits. These are but not limited to:

1. Empathy: Our awareness of others' feelings, needs, and concerns. This helps to understand other people’s feelings and perspectives, and showing an active interest in their concerns and interests. Also those in customer handling positions are able to anticipate, recognize, and meet customers' needs.

2. Social Skills. Getting other people to respond to you in a certain way or getting the desired responses from others. This is especially useful if you are in leadership position and can use these skills to influence subordinates and get desired results.

3. Personal Competencies: These skills help to manage our own emotions through self awareness, preferences, and intuition. Being aware of one's strengths and weaknesses leads to self-confidence and allows such people to effectively use their strengths while trying to improve on the weaknesses.

4. Restrain negative feelings and Reinforce positive behavior: the ability to control negativities such as anger and self-doubt, and instead focus on positive ones such as confidence and congeniality.

5. Maintaining good balance between work and family: Another important skill is to have a healthy work –family balance. As human beings it is good to have a cushion against negativity in any one sphere of life. We need to have a good strong family support system to help us enjoy both aspects of life.

Therefore, it is a good idea to spend some time getting to know one self and our responses in typical situations. Getting a better handle on your emotions will lead you to have a better control and progress in your careers.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Self Motivate yourself to overcome tough times.

Motivation is the most discussed and least understood phenomena. Right from Maslow’s theory till now, there has been an unending debate on how or what motivates an individual. But what has definitely emerged form this debate is that self motivation or intrinsic motivation is the one that stays a long time.

Extrinsic motivation is caused by external factors where someone else tries to get things done in a certain way and gives out rewards/punishments for adherence. Needless to say that intrinsic motivation comes from within where in the person really wants to do his/her work.

During the tough times such as the current economic recession, even keeping one’s job is getting difficult. Thus there is no question of high rewards or incentives for employees during these times. But it is still important to keep your motivational levels high because this can help you tide over difficult period.

So, what exactly is “motivation”? Motivation is a psychological process that gives behavior purpose and direction. Or it is an internal drive to satisfy an unsatisfied need.

Staying motivated is a constant struggle even in good times for most of us. We as humans are constantly exposed to negative thoughts from others as well as self induced doubts and depressions. And this is what separates the highly successful from the others. Although there is no simple solution for a lack of motivation, it is important to sustain it to stay afloat in the current job scenario. Keeping employees happy and motivated is one of the key challenges of Human resource people. Actually, sometimes it is more important for an employee to be recognized for his good work rather than be awarded. Little gestures of recognition and understanding can ago a long way in producing self motivated employees.

Let us look at some common tips to help one self motivate himself during slump times. But before that let us understand why we lose our motivation. It could be because of external factors such as bad vibes in the workplace or situation such as that of today of economic recession or they could be internal such as Lack of confidence, direction and focus. Out of these, there is not much we can do about external factors, but we can definitely control our internal motivational factors. And this is how we can do it --

1. Set Goals -- Short and long term goals - Use both short and long term goals to guide yourself to your ultimate aim in life. Keep reminding yourself of these goals as and when possible.

2. Make Work fun - Work is most enjoyable when it doesn’t feel like work at all. Add activities that you find most enjoyable and create positive environment to get better results.

3. Create challenges – you will be happy when you are progressing towards a goal which is not only attainable but requires you to be more creative. Winning small battles gives the motivation for tackling bigger issues.

4. Finish what you start. A half finished project is of no use to anyone. Quitting is a habit. Develop the habit of finishing projects.

5. Keep self learning or learning new things. First this will help to reduce dependency on others for knowledge and second it will open up new worlds of opportunities and most importantly, it will keep you interested in doing something new.

6. Align and Harmonize natural talent with interest that motivates. Natural talent creates motivation, motivation creates persistence and persistence gets the job done.

7. Learn to take risk. Failure and bouncing back are elements of motivation. Failure is a learning tool. No one has ever succeeded at anything worthwhile without a string of failures

Keeping track of your most important tasks will direct your energy towards success. So, keep yourself occupied with step by step goals and see how it takes you to the ultimate one.

Goal Setting: An Important Exercise

All of us who have worked in professional environments have faced this word very often. Goal setting and measuring has become a very important part of corporate work cultures. Infact, it has been termed and described as one of the basic reason of enhancing productivity in organizations. So, what is so special about it?

Goal setting is a not a new management funda or anything which has been unknown. We all have been doing it for ourselves everyday in our lives or at some point in our life. We all set our sights on something important in our life – it could be any particular object that we want to buy, a latest car, a play station, a house, a laptop . So, getting that thing is our goal and how we go about getting it is our action plan. The only difference here is that we do not actually acknowledge it as a goal and end up not achieving it.

This is where the process of verbalizing and writing down your goals can help. Writing down your goals is important. You are able to clearly define what you want. Secondly, it will make it simpler to review and follow the goal.

The written word is the difference between a real goal and a dream. But there are some things which need to be kept in mind when writing your goals:

1. Set a goal which is really important to you and not which others tell you are good for you. – usually we follow what others (parents, friends, peers) tell us to be good. And this is why most of us fail to reach our goals. The reason is that we are not at all passionate about such goals because they are not our goals at all.

2. Make SMART Goals – This is the most commonly used acronym used in connection with goal setting in business environments. But the fact is that it makes sense in personal sphere as well. Let us look at them one by one.

a. Specific – Each and every goal you set should be specific. A general statement such as “I want to be successful” is not a goal.

b. Measurable – Though this comes straight from business environment, it is important for any goal to be measurable; otherwise you will not be able to identify its success or failure properly.

c. Achievable – Do not set a goal which is impossible to attain. You will never even try to achieve it because you know you cannot do it.

d. Relevant – This is important because goals which are against your core values or wishes are irrelevant. This attribute also makes sense when we talk about having smaller goals which take us to the ultimate goal.

e. Time-based – The goals should be time bound. You cannot set a goal and hope you will achieve it one day. There has to be a specific time period in which you must attain it otherwise it may lose its significance.

3. Make them prominent – display these goals at all possible places within your home and office so that you can see them easily. They should serve you as constant reminders of what you are supposed to do in your life.

4. Review – Last, review your goals very often. Check out the progress you are making. Set smaller sub goals to reach your final goal. Not only these sub goals motivate you further on achievement, they also let you monitor the progress you have made till that point.

Another important aspect here is to be Flexible. Sometimes we seem to hit a rock barrier and it seems like we cannot go any further. In such cases, be open to modify your goals to suit the current scenario. Or it may also happen that the situation changes dramatically and the goals you set are no longer as relevant as they were then. Again, be flexible enough to revise them rather than leave them altogether.

But this flexibility should not be used to cover up the deficiency or under-achievement of goals.

Goal setting is the foundation for personal and workplace success. But it is not a simple writing down of some ideas on a piece of paper. Goal setting is a roadmap to your success. Therefore, put in some effort to set your goals and achieve what you want in life.