Editor’s Note: This article is written by Justine McGrath, ProACTive Coaching’s owner and EBW System assessment and training facilitator. “How To Engage Your Emotional Intelligence To Adapt To Different Work Environments” is originally published in the 23rd PERFORMANCE Magazine – Printed Edition.
In 2020 the world of work changed forever. Companies with adaptable managers and leaders survived and, in some cases, thrived. Those who didn’t suffered.
In a survey done by the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway in 2022, a staggering 95% of respondents said working remotely makes life easier. Thirty percent of respondents said they would change job – even if it meant taking a pay cut — if their employers did not take into account their remote working preferences.
It was not all plain sailing for those working from home. It only took a few weeks before we saw the toll it was taking on some, as the lines blurred between work and home. For working parents, having to balance your job with trying to homeschool was extremely challenging.
There are emotional challenges for employees with all three types of working. According to a Microsoft Report in 2021, 54% of remote workers feel overworked and 39% feel exhausted. Zoom Fatigue is also a factor with many meetings running consecutively.
For those who have returned to the office full time, the daily commute is a reminder of a way of life they would rather avoid every day. Employees have to grapple with higher levels of stress, and this affects their ability to regulate their emotions.
Emotional Intelligence is the ability to understand how our emotions and behaviours impact firstly on ourselves and then on others. In order to adapt to these new ways of working, employees need to be aware of how to best manage their emotions to ensure they can continue to perform at their best.
How Leaders Build Trust and Accountability
Employers need two traits if they want their team to adapt to new ways of working: trust and accountability. This is especially important if you have certain people in the team working from home and some in the office. Employees need to feel they are part of the team and have a shared sense of responsibility. This gives them a sense of autonomy, which builds trust.
Psychological safety is paramount. Give people an opportunity to air their views, grievances, and fears. Managers may see this as a threat to their role or as being too soft, whereas nothing could be further from the truth.
You need to be aware of what will enable peak performance from your employees. If you want to ensure success in the workplace, building trust and accountability is essential.
To build trust and accountability, develop your self-awareness. How? Understand your style of leadership and whether or not it is effective. Get regular feedback from a trusted source.
Self-regulation is how you manage yourself in the workplace. It is vital to understand your own emotions and behaviors so that you can adapt and improve where necessary. Do you have any blind spots in this area? How do people respond to you? This is the intrapersonalaspect of EI – managing the self.
When it comes to managing others – the interpersonalaspect of EI – social awareness is key. Who are the best communicators in your team? Is there someone who is struggling and could use a little empathy right now? Put yourself in their situation and see it from their point of view. Using EI to deal with your own emotions and behaviors and to understand those of others will propel you from a good leader to an excellent one.
Emotional Intelligence for Employees
In the same way that the manager or leader has to be fully aware of how their emotions and behaviors impact both themselves and others, the same holds true for any employee.
This is particularly important if they are feeling apprehensive about the options available in the workplace. They need to feel safe to voice their concerns.
The most important aspect of developing self-awareness is understanding what it is about your job that motivates you. If going back to the office de-motivates you, why is that? Could you express those issues/concerns to your manager? If you are going to move to a hybrid work model, have you prepared yourself mentally for that change? What are the advantages and disadvantages, and how do they affect you?
EBW model of Business Emotional Intelligence is about the ability to use your intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligence to focus on the critical emotions and underlying behavioural traits that predict occupational performance.
Any good manager will appreciate an employee who takes the initiative on issues that arise. Try to find a potential solution before you talk to management. It’s about building trust, communicating openly, and not being afraid to stand up for what you need.
Get yourself into the right mindset. If there are obstacles in your way or you feel unsupported, how could you change that?
Being aware of both the intrapersonal traits and the interpersonal traits of EI will enhance your career prospects. Use self-awareness to take your own personal audit of how the new way of working is going to affect you. Use social awareness to see if it will impact how you relate to both your manager and your colleagues to ensure clear communication going forward.
To conclude, both employers and employees need to take stock at this time of change. If we can develop our EI to communicate clearly, build trust and accountability, and nurture both the self and each other, the future looks bright.
About the author
Justine McGrath is an executive coach and trainer who specializes in Emotional Intelligence. She is the owner of ProACTive Coaching and is a facilitator of the EBW System of assessments and training.
Emotional intelligence can improves business results often by order of magnitude. Today, the leader’s mood plays an important role in this dynamic. New research has shown that leaders should redefine what they do first and best.The human mind proves that leaders’ moods could affect the feelings of those around them. The reason for that lies in what scientists call the open-loop nature of the mind`s limbic gadget, which relies upon outside assets to control itself and serves as our emotional center. However, the closed-loop gadget is self-regulating, and our mood usually depends on our connections with different humans. The open-loop limbic gadget is a triumphing layout in evolution. It allows humans to come to one another’s emotional rescue; for example, permitting a mom to appease her crying infant.
Resonant Leaders Inspire People
Resonating means being in harmony or in sync with those around you. Mary Tuk engages with the people around her, those who report to her and others. She tells them not only what is important to them in their lives and work but also to their personal and professional vision. She listens to them because she cares. Employees sense this and respond accordingly. This creates an environment of open dialogue, mutual respect, and trust. Personal and shared visions have a long history in management and organizational practice but only recently have they begun to systematically build empirical knowledge about the role of individuals and shared visions, teams, or organizations when developing personal or shared visions. Positive Emotional Attractors (PEA) and Negative Emotional Attractors (NEA) are two major states that are strange attractors, each characterized by three dimensions. These are (1) positive emotional awakening and negative emotional awakening; (2) endocrine excitement of the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, and (3) neurological activation of standard mode networks and task-positive networks.Building a compassionate relationship in a shared vision is difficult even in the simplest times. But in a highly competitive industry like banks, this is a big challenge. Imagine trying to excite people in the future by working on performance, energy updates, and sustainability when the world around you seems to be collapsing. Emotional and social intelligence skills show that in many countries around the world, they predict the effectiveness of leadership, management, and professional activities. They can be called emotional intelligence (EI) and social intelligence (SI) behavioral levels.To be an effective leader, manager, or expert, a person should properly understand and handle his or her emotions based on each person or situation and interact effectively with others. One needs to understand the emotional signals of others . These competencies occur in three clusters: (1) Cognitive intelligence (CI) competencies, such as systems thinking and pattern recognition; (2) Emotional intelligence index (EI) abilities, such as adaptability, emotional self-control, emotional self-awareness, positive attitude, and achievement orientation; and (3) Social intelligence (SI) abilities, such as empathy, organizational awareness, inspirational leadership, influence, coaching and mentoring, conflict management, and teamwork. Other competencies are like threshold competencies, and that means they have to be defensive.
Emotional intelligence at work
Emotions can also be a valuable tool in the workplace. Through learning to read and influence the emotions and reactions of others, emotional intelligence can be rewarded in your organization. Here’s how that can happen:Make sure leaders practice the right actions. If the leader does well, you can see it in the team.Allow colleagues to distinguish between emotions and personality. Try this exercise: The manager puts a huge calendar on the wall, and the team members mark the calendar with emojis that show their feelings. Encouraging employees to say “I feel frustrated” rather than “I’m frustrated” can increase their emotional awareness.Make employees feel valued. When employees have a say, they feel more connected. Talk frequently with your employees to find out what they think of changes and projects so they can talk and hear. If they tell you they are angry, frustrated, or worried, make it okay. Also, say thank you and show people that you are grateful.Make feedback routine and factual. Give and receive negative and positive feedback. It helps everyone become a better employee. It’s a good idea to start with a question, “How are you? What are you thinking?” If you give negative feedback, don’t do it personally. Also, please accept feedback from the team. “What would you change if you were in my position?” Remember to control your reaction to what you hear. If you don’t like it, think about why and pause before answering.Make assertion training accessible to all employees. Explosive anger, resentment, and frustration result from disgusting emotions. For many, it is difficult to express themselves properly. Teaching employees when and how to deal with difficult situations can help people avoid emotional relapses.Facilitate stress management. Be aware of your employees’ increasing workload, deadlines, and stresses. Provide support if possible. Implement stress-relieving strategies and training to reduce emotional ups and downs.
In the context of the pandemic, the face of customer service was drastically changed by accelerated digitalization. One recent study developed by McKinsey discovered that customer interaction is now accelerated within 3 to 4 years. What count the most nowadays are customer needs or expectations, influenced by remote working.
Gartner developed a survey on customer service and 64% of respondents stated that the focus for 2022 is related to the growth of the business and client retention by using two main approaches: firstly, to prioritize people and processes, together with the best use of tech solutions, and secondly, improving the self-service-channel, by SEO optimization and organizational websites.
If the customer service and customer experience have changed, this means that customer service specialists should develop new skills or refine their skills so they can achieve greater results. In 2022, customer service representatives (CSR) should blend technological skills with data and more specialized talent, which means it is essentials for the companies to invest in training and development. There are five skills that any CSR should focus on mastering and what skills talent management specialists should look for when they are trying to hire new customer service specialists.
CSR agents are not IT specialists. However, they can influence and offer feedback on the tools they are using because they listen to the customer and know their issues best when they navigate on the company’s websites or chat boxes.
The most recent tool, integrated by WhatsApp is Click to chat, which works for both its mobile app and the web browser which allows you to chat with someone without having their phone number saved in your phone’s address book. You only need the phone number of the person you want to chat with and the country code using this link in HTML format: https://wa.me/<number>. Going to that link will open a chat function with the person.
If having tech skills is a need that is making strides, having emotional intelligence is just right behind it. Service agents can hear and feel a customer’s irritation over the phone and can solve issues as quickly as possible. Another great way of using emotional intelligence is social listening.
Tip #2: The Five-Minute Golden Window and Instant gratification
Dr. James Oldroyd discovered in 2007 in his Lead Response Management Study, that agents who can answer to the client in less than 5 minutes from the inquiry submission can be 100 times more able to contact the client and 21 minutes to win a sale, than the agents with a later 30 minutes reply rate.
A KPI which can be measured and can help improve the speed of answer is # Speed of Answer (SA). It measures the average speed of answering a customer’s call by an available agent after the call is being placed in a queue. Other variations are:
# Average speed to answer a phone call (ASA)
# Time of answer
# Average time to answer (ATA)
#SA is used to indicate the call center operators’ accessibility and rapidness. It can impact the caller’s satisfaction and long-term loyalty.
Tip #3: Improve Live Chat Speed of reply
Millennials use to chat more on Live Chat than baby boomers. They value personal and instant interaction; they want to speak to a real person and are not happy if they wait long to receive a reply. This means CSR should master Live Chat communication skills and improve their #SA.
A recent study developed by Super Office showed that the average reply to a chat is estimated to be 2 minutes and 40 seconds, with the fastest reply time being 7 seconds while the longest took around 9 minutes. The live chat should include pre-written templates, a personal welcome template, and some FAQs prepared, rather than having manually type out replies. The reply time can vary from each field of interest; as such, each business should benchmark its results with its competitors.
Customer service means customer interactions, and the clients always seek a human touch when they need help with a product or service purchase.
Tip # 4: The mirror technique
When interacting with a customer, the real success lies in the ability to adapt to the customer’s communication style and expectations, then to mirror and respond adequately. For instance, if the communication is performed on the phone, what matters the most is to promptly answer and solve the issue. It is also important to talk as some customers need this kind of interaction.
Let’s see other useful tips:
– Always introduce yourself
– Feel the customer
– Personalize the interaction
– Avoid negative phrases
– Avoid customer interruption
– Communicate clearly and concisely when offering solutions.
Personalization and micro-moments
The customer is bombarded with content, and the most important fact is to use the right time or moment and to provide a quick solution. Micro-moments basically happen when people reflexively use their devices and search, watch, or discover something. If you can reach them at that time, the chances that they will buy from you are high.
Tip #5: Send Live Chat transcript as a follow-up email
CSR agents should use their imagination in various aspects of their jobs. They can make customers feel special by having a better understanding and response to their individual needs.
CSR agents can send personalized email headers and subject lines, but finding the right time to send a personalized offer that will help the customer to reach his goals is essential. Live Chat transcripts can be also another smart way to reach the customer when following up.
Working remotely with skill and passion
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people work forever, and there is no sign of going back to normal soon.
Working from home is quite more challenging than working from an office. It can require having a dedicated home office, a dedicated phone line or a phone software solution, an updated PC, or a good phone headset, and that’s besides having a good internet connection.
Apart from that, social isolation, issues with teamwork and collaboration, sedentarism, and finding a balance between life and work are also other challenging aspects.
Tip #6: Level up your motivation while working remotely
Think positively and focus on telecommuting advantages such as working from the comfort of your own home, being closer to your family, and others.
For some people, dressing for work at home can be a good tip. Others may find that eliminating checking social media channels during work or turning off notifications on their phone might work. Sometimes, a short break outside or taking in some fresh air can be the best remedy.
Another useful activity to keep you motivated would be to invest in continuous learning and training. This will keep you focused and help you become more productive.
Customer service is now in an era of innovation, being anchored on customer experience. There are also other important skills a CSR agent should have and improve, such as product and industry knowledge, consistency, patience, perseverance, accountability, empathy, critical thinking, problem-solving, and many others.
A great way to keep pace with 2022 trends is achieving The Certified Customer Service Performance Professional recognition, through which you will be able to manage, monitor, and evaluate your overall Customer Service Performance, and have a direct positive impact on customer loyalty.
In Part I of our article, we discussed what exactly is Emotional Intelligence or EI/EQ and what are some of the top 5 characteristics that individuals with high EQ have. In our second part, we will look at what are the markers that showcase whether one has a high EQ level or not.
There are various tests that can help you identify your emotional intelligence level, such as the Emotional Intelligence 2.0 test. However, these tests have their limitations in that EQ is intangible, making it difficult to precisely measure.
You’ve probably heard the term “emotional intelligence.” It’s come into vogue in recent years, with numerous books being written about the subject. Businesses are increasingly focusing on emotional intelligence and researchers are increasingly learning its importance.