Why Emotional Intelligence for Managers?

Practical Tips and Resources to Improve Performance


When it comes to employee wellbeing and performance, managers make a huge difference. Research from McKinsey found that an employee’s relationship with his or her manager is the number one predictor of job satisfaction, which in turn is one of the top predictors of the employee’s overall wellbeing. People don’t leave companies, as the saying goes, they leave – or stay and go above and beyond for – managers.

What separates an exceptional manager from a neutral, or even toxic, one?
It’s emotional intelligence. Research, including this multi-year study from Google, indicates that it doesn’t really matter how technically brilliant a manager is. It doesn’t even matter how smart they are. What matters is how emotionally intelligent they are. This is true around the world and across industries. Whether it’s meeting safety goals at a chemical manufacturing plant, success in pharmaceutical sales, or reducing turnover in the hospitality industry, managers fuel performance – and they use emotional intelligence to do it.

How can you improve emotional intelligence for managers? Here are a few practical tips to get started, and resources to go deeper:

Develop High Value Emotional Intelligence Skills

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Increase Performance with Emotional Intelligence: 3 Practical Tips

Here are 3 practical tips to practice emotional intelligence and create a culture of high performance. While any advice should be customized for your specific situation, the underlying principles of emotionally intelligent management practices remain the same.

1. Want to increase performance? Work less.

Maximizing productivity is pretty simple, right? You work longer and harder than everyone else. You arrive early, stay late, and take as few breaks as possible. It’s a great story; it just isn’t true. Research has found that the most productive employees take quite frequent breaks: 17 minutes on average for every 52 minutes of work. Our brains function optimally when we take time to move and recharge, and you should encourage your employees to do exactly that within the constraints of your business. Model it yourself, even when you’re busy. Create a culture that normalizes and enjoys breaks, instead of prizing fake busy-ness. It’s counterintuitive and runs contrary to our society’s normal messaging, but the right amount of breaks actually boosts productivity and performance.

2. Want to get back on task? Start meetings off task.

Most managers feel like they have too much to do to focus on anything but getting the basic tasks done. It’s like you’re on a treadmill trying to catch up, but it’s moving too fast. The catch is that the more we focus on tasks, the more we miss emotional data that builds trust and connection and loyalty – known drivers of employee performance. Belonging is one of the most fundamental human motivators, and connecting with people needs to be treated with the same importance as getting tasks done. Take time at the beginning of meetings to check in and listen.

3. Want to move forward faster? Look backwards first.

One of the biggest lost opportunities for growth is our devotion to planning for tomorrow. When we miss reflection, we lose an understanding of our wins and failures. What worked today? Why? How can we use that insight again to improve? Researchers have identified that feedback and self reflection are essential to learning, and if we eliminate this process, we may miss out on that key knowledge. Reflection time not only provides insights, but also acts as a nice closing ritual for the workday. Try asking yourself: What worked today and why? What could have worked better? This is not a time to beat yourself up, but an opportunity to look strategically at your day and learn from what happened.

Practical Resources to Improve Emotional Intelligence for Managers

Emotional intelligence is a set of interrelated skills, and they’re learnable. You can measure, practice and improve emotional intelligence – and see lasting results. Check out our top rated Udemy course about emotional intelligence at work, and the free articles below with specific tips on communication at work.

Read our top articles on emotionally intelligent management:

Michael Miller

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