At Six Seconds, one of our primary goals is to support change-makers around the world who are using our tools and models, such at Team Vital Signs, to promote personal and organizational vitality with emotional intelligence. We welcome and cherish stories “from the field” that recount how Six Seconds certified coaches and consultants are contributing to the growth of EQ one person or one company at a time.

Using Vital Signs – Moving from Fear to Trust with Emotional Intelligence

We recently heard from Ebe Chaney, an organizational consultant from India with many years of experience, about how he utilized one of the Six Seconds Vital Signs assessments in his work with an emerging entrepreneurial company. Here is his account of the engagement:

Background

Comp4Auto Pvt. Ltd. is a small Indian company, established in 2010, engaged in the manufacture of components for the auto industry. In this short period, with a lot of innovation they have made inroads into a market once dominated by older and larger competitors. The company’s products have been approved and it is a registered tier-one supplier to all the auto manufacturers in the country. Despite a recession in the auto industry, Comp4Auto is flush with orders and has taken steps to triple its capacity.

Mr. Mayank Widgetwala, the managing director, wanted me to help him assess his top managers’ ability to handle a company three times the present size. Subsequently, I visited the plant and was impressed by the company’s people practices. Mr. Widgetwala spoke about his incentive systems and his emphasis on transparency. I also had an opportunity to meet members of his top management team.

Team Vital Signs Assessment

Mr. Widgetwala accepted my proposal to administer a Six Seconds Team Vital Signs (TVS) assessment for the top two layers of management. The TVS is part of an integrated suite that also includes leadership and organization-wide assessments. Out of thirteen executives selected, eleven completed the questionnaire. The results, in part, were as expected, but there were also some eye openers.

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Level of engagement for team members

 

The engagement level of the team was very high at 45%, as compared to Gallup’s 9% average for companies in India and 19% in developed market countries. Ability and willingness to change was seen in the TVS data and evident from the fact that success so far was the result of innovation and the encouragement of new ideas. However, trust was relatively low, although slightly above the international norm, and achieving results was a definite concern. The highest score, sustainability, defined as creating enduring value over time, spoke to the commitment of team members. Agility, as the second highest score, testified to the team’s nimbleness in responding to new opportunities.

TVS results 

Team Vital Signs results for performance drivers and outcomes

 

The first debrief of the report was with Mr. Widgetwala, after which he agreed to a team debrief. The feedback, which under normal circumstances would not have been received, was very valuable. This is where some additional challenges were revealed. The two comments seen repeatedly were “lack of useful feedback” and “high pressure of work.” The presence of fear and a high level stress emerged very strongly at this debrief session. Following the debrief session with the team, we designed an intervention based on the TVS findings and the feedback we received.

Intervention

It was agreed that three top executives would receive individual coaching. Mr. Widgetwala refers to them as his three pillars. However, the coaching intervention would have to be much later, after new machines to increase capacity were commissioned. In the meantime, they accepted my suggestion to conduct two workshops on emotional intelligence and trust. These were done one month apart. The purpose of these workshops was to create a deeper awareness of toxic behavior and of the key element, trust, in the climate within the team.

Change Initiatives

The company used the new insights to initiate change to improve the climate within the team and, consequently, in the whole organization. Agility and optimism being strong components of their organizational DNA brought rich dividends. Some very important initiatives were:

  • In order to focus on trust and results, Level 2 and 3 employees were invited to strategy meetings. Here they were encouraged to be involved in the discussion and, often, in decision-making.
  • Moving away from the practice of having only Level 1 executives present the monthly Business Operating Systems reports, their subordinates were now involved in the presentations. This made the next tier of employees feel relevant to the success of the company.
  • At monthly employee meetings, besides receiving feedback and complaints, a presentation on current market status was made. At these meetings, Level 2 and 3 employees were encouraged to present their improvement plans.

Highlighting Stories

Many wonderful stories emerged during the intervention. Here are three examples that capture the level of insight and reflection shown:

Head of Marketing and Projects: “Meeting customer schedules was a problem for a long time. This caused me a lot of stress as it produced consistent failures. It was affecting my credibility with my customers. After the three lectures, I started looking at the problems that awaited me at work as an opportunity to find solutions. Fear was replaced with the courage to come clean with my customers. I confessed to them that we had failed in giving an adequate explanation and said that I needed their support to find a solution. Surprisingly, I found a lot trust in return. We became partners in discovering solutions. Now, I no longer look at problems, which will always be there, as stressful.”

Production Manager: “We have always been under tremendous pressure to meet delivery commitments. That is even true today. Earlier, however, there was no cooperation among my people or between various functions in the organization. The stress level had reached a state of panic. Nobody trusted anybody. Meetings ended in heated arguments and blaming one another, further hampering execution. After the three lectures, there was a change in the mindset of everyone. There was more teamwork, cooperation, and sharing of responsibilities. This resulted in greater trust and better constructive feedback. Delivery pressures remained, but there was no panic. I used to be on call 24/7 and now was able to take off on a holiday for 5 days with my family.”

Purchase Manager: “I have always been under heavy stress, which caused health issues. I worked long hours, mostly spent in heated arguments. However, after the second lecture, I identified a negative behavior of mine and slowly started to change it. After the third talk, I started changing my conversations by “Listening to Connect.” I am handling stress much better and, at home, things are slowly improving as I give more time.”

Results

Positive outcomes were seen throughout the company as a result of the intervention. Among the most significant are:

  • Authentic, Level III conversations, in an environment of trust, started occurring between team members. There was more asking and listening in place of ordering and controlling. This resulted in co-creation and partnership in resolving day-to-day issues.
  • Fear is being replaced by trust, resulting in useful feedback.
  • There has been a 30% increase in top line performance without adding capacity.
  • Managers have achieved an 80% reduction in the cost of air freighting material to meet the just-in-time requirements of their customers.
  • There are no longer any complaints from customers and suppliers reaching the managing director; the appropriate people are now skillfully handling any issues that arise.

While more work remains to be done, great progress has been made to improve the climate in the company. This revitalized atmosphere has set the stage for sustained and deliberate attention to relationships at all levels, openness to dialogue and participation, and transparency in dealing with customers. These changes, prompted by education and discussion about emotional intelligence, have also contributed to positive financial results. The future is bright for this young, innovative, and agile company.

You can learn more about Six Seconds’ Vital Signs organizational tools, including how to become certified to use the assessments in your practice or company, by clicking here.

You can also read about and download the new, free eBook, The Business Case for Emotional Intelligence, by clicking on the link here and filling in the form.

Paul Stillman

Paul Stillman is Director of Organizational Vitality at Six Seconds. He has over 30 years of experience as a healthcare executive and consultant. Paul leads global efforts to promote the use of Vital Signs, Six Seconds' suite of organization assessment tools. He has a Ph.D. in Human and Organizational Systems and is a Life Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives.