To support highly technical leaders and teams to be more effective at collaboration, Shell sought out a customized emotional intelligence development program. Using a blended-learning approach, Six Seconds’ tailor-made program yields an 85% success rate when assessed an average of three years after the program.
Shell is a global petrochemical company headquartered in the Hague, Netherlands, with over 90,000 employees in 90 countries worldwide and a 200-year history. Shell Asia’s assets include their largest investment, Shell Eastern Petrochemicals Complex in Singapore. They have been active in Brunei since 1929, the headquarters for Shell’s efforts to target projects in the region.
In a highly technical environment, people-skills can be overlooked. In an increasingly complex business context, collaboration is a strategic resource essential for problem-solving, good decision making, ethics, and profitability. Leaders in Shell Brunei identified these needs and recognized that “emotional intelligence” is a core asset for true collaboration. Shell asked Six Seconds to build a customized solution to introduce emotional intelligence (EQ) to their organization as a pilot to test the effectiveness of EQ for improving teamwork. Initially delivered for the senior management of Shell Brunei, the program was expanded to numerous engineering and technical teams in the region. In addition, the Brunei marketing business unit requested a specially customized program for that group.
Following the pilot program for senior leaders, the EQ for Effective Relationships and Teamwork (EQ-ERT) program was rolled out in a series of 10 workshops on an ongoing basis from 2007 to 2009. EQ-ERT was built in three phases: Pre-assessment, training, and follow-up.
The program began with the Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Assessment (SEI), a well-validated measure that provides meaningful feedback about current emotional intelligence competencies. SEI is unique because, in addition to clear insight, it offers a process framework for improvement based on specific, scientifically rigorous metrics for each individual. Participants received their SEI Leadership Reports as pre-reading to orient them to the program and build buy-in.
The second phase of EQ-ERT, in-person training, began with building self-awareness from the foundation of the assessment. Because awareness alone is not sufficient for performance, the program design built on the insight with a process and tools to put emotional intelligence into action. In the workshops, managers and staff learned numerous techniques to build effective relationships and strong teams. They practiced empathic listening and communication, learning how it impacts relations with team members. Participants identified the difference between positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement and how this affects individual and team performance.
The third phase focused on implementation. The central theme of the course was moving from awareness to increased effectiveness through numerous practical strategies to redirect unconscious reactions in a more productive manner. To increase the participants’ efficacy in applying their new tools, each received an individualized Leader’s Development Guide, a workbook with specific strategies for EQ development based on the results of her/his SEI profile. Participants received one-on-one follow-up in person, by phone, or via videoconference with a Six Seconds coach.
Senior leaders in the original pilot immediately identified the need to extend this program throughout the region. These leaders experienced that the practical tools of the EQ for Effective Relationships and Teamwork program add significant value to leader and team performance.
In 2012, an average of three years following the program, participants were surveyed about their experiences, and 10% of the original participants responded to the survey. Survey respondents rated the program an average of 5.1/6, or 85%, which is extremely high after a three-year interval. Comments included:
“This is the best course I ever attended, very interesting and useful tools for my daily work.”
– Khairul Affeni B. HJ Abdul Malek, Logistics Supervisor
“The workshop really helped to identify what matters most.”
– Hjh. Zaiton Hj. Mohd Daud, Learning Adviser, BAPSLH
“The most valuable concept was idea of solving personal issues wisely by identifying my weakest point first then tackling it gradually. I identified that I too easily plunge myself in helping others. Now I’ve learned how to say “no” and I can proudly say I have eliminated that weakness by 90%! Heartfelt thanks to the emotional intelligence course and the facilitator, I greatly appreciate it all my life.”
– Norlela Ibrahim, Senior Technical Assistant
Traditionally, organizations like Shell focused on technical expertise. Adding emotional intelligence lets people bring those “IQ” skills into play more effectively, especially when performance is not an individual endeavor. An effective EQ intervention created improved relationships between the leaders and staff, helping cement the bond within the teams to work, communicate and build more productive alliances. Following the Six Seconds’ blended learning methodology, EQ-ERT seems to have had a lasting effect: Assessment + skills training + coaching + individual action planning = lasting impact for people-performance.