Emotional Intelligence and Management at Workplace

Introduction

To successfully manage human resources and organise all the processes within a company, it is necessary to pay attention to the practices followed in the workplace. Along these lines, researchers and practitioners are focusing on discussing and applying the concept of emotional intelligence in the form of managers’ and employees’ capacity to recognise, use and control their emotions to contribute to effective interactions.

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However, debates remain regarding the actual role of managing emotions in working processes as well as in employees’ relationships and activities in the workplace. For example, some managers and researchers do not admit that emotional intelligence can be as important as cognitive intelligence (Schutte and Loi 135). The question argued in the current literature on organisational behaviour is related to the specific applicability of emotional intelligence and management to the workplace. Therefore, it is important to analyse how emotional intelligence may be applied at work when promoting advantages for a company.

The purpose of this report is to present an analysis of the literature on the topic and to draw conclusions regarding the relevance of emotional intelligence and emotional management to the workplace with the support of real-life cases and survey results.

Literature Review

The effective analysis of the topic is probable only with reference to reviewing different sources on the role of emotional intelligence in the workplace. For this purpose, scholarly articles and online publications have been examined to realise the scope of the literature on the subject and concentrate on new trends in discussing the problem. Recent literature on organisational behaviour and management defines emotional intelligence as the ability to regulate emotional functioning in interactions, adapt and manage emotions and perceive and understand the emotions of other people (Cole 32).

More precisely, emotional intelligence is ‘the ability to perceive and express emotion, assimilate emotion and thought, understand and reason with emotion, and regulate emotion in the self and others’ (qtd. in McCleskey 78). From this perspective, the concept of emotional intelligence is based on the aspects of self-regulation, self-awareness, and empathy with a focus on and adaptation to other individuals’ emotions. It is also important to note that this definition cannot be regarded as operationalised in the literature, and researchers continue to work to refine it.

In addition to emotional intelligence, researchers also identify emotional management that is directly related to the context of the working environment. Emotional management is usually defined as a process of determining how certain emotions can influence performance and applying approaches to managing these emotions in order to achieve a particular goal (Robbins and Judge 218–222).

Thus, emotional management is important in regulating the individual’s emotions and addressing employees’ emotions in the workplace. Still, in spite of actively discussing the role of emotional intelligence and emotional management for leaders, researchers are presenting different positions regarding the relevance of these concepts to be applied to the workplace. Researchers’ arguments and opinions need to be presented in detail in the other section of this report.

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Relevance of Emotional Intelligence to the Workplace: Arguments and Suggestions

There are two opposite positions regarding the relevance of emotional intelligence and emotional management to the workplace discussed in the literature. Opponents of the idea of relevance maintain that the role of this aspect is highly overstated in the current literature under the impact of the work by Goleman (McCleskey 78–79). In contrast, many researchers have presented evidence in their studies showing the importance of applying emotional intelligence and emotional management in the workplace in order to stimulate employees’ activities and interactions. The discussion of the existing opinions should be started with analysing the opponents’ view.

One group of researchers accentuate the idea that the concept of emotional intelligence can hardly be applied to the understanding of organisational processes and workplace practices because of problems with the concept itself. Thus, the notion of emotional intelligence can be viewed as ‘oxymoronic since the very definition of intelligence involves rational, dispassionate thought’ (McCleskey 83).

Furthermore, it is difficult to measure emotional intelligence to determine the impact it has on people’s activities and interactions. Moreover, problems exist in evaluating exact effects of this type of intelligence on performance in the workplace or on leadership, and as a result, it is difficult to come to conclusions regarding the relevance of applying this concept to organisational behaviour. However, in spite of these arguments of the opponents of the idea of any relevance of the discussed phenomenon to the workplace, much evidence accentuates an important role for emotional intelligence in terms of influencing relationships in the workplace.

The position supported in this report should be stated the following way: emotional intelligence and emotional management are highly relevant to the workplace because these factors influence the quality of interactions between managers and employees and affect the working atmosphere, resulting in specific positive or negative outcomes. According to Ovans, emotional intelligence as a developed skill in understanding and regulating emotions contributes to increasing productivity and performance in the workplace because of individuals’ capacity to cope effectively with negative feelings and reactions.

In addition, Humphrey et al. state that by applying the approaches of emotional management, individuals can communicate with their colleagues more successfully while understanding their emotions and intentions and minimising triggers for possible conflicts (750). As a result, communication at work becomes positive, based on the principles of empathy and support, sensitive, and even more productive.

In the modern literature on the topic, much attention is paid to the idea that leaders must develop their skills in emotional intelligence and management in order to stimulate their subordinates to work more effectively. As a result, the quality of communication is stated as directly leading to the improvement in performance and the quality of outcomes (Maidique and Hiller). Thus, researchers assert that emotional intelligence and management can affect an organisational climate and the effectiveness of teamwork as well as the individual performance of employees (Humphrey et al. 751).

In his article, Cole also maintains that it is important to develop this type of intelligence because it is essential for employees to feel that they are cared for by their supervisors and leaders and that their feelings and emotions are a topic of discussion for managers (32). Therefore, according to Ovans, application of the principles of emotional intelligence in the workplace is often associated with consultations, systems for conveying praise and certain rewards and benefits in order to address employee motivation and stimulate workers’ activities.

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From this perspective, the literature presents evidence supporting the idea that emotional intelligence is relevant to the workplace because of its direct and indirect impacts on individuals’ behaviours, interactions, feelings and, as a consequence, productivity. For example, employees who do not view their colleagues and managers as caring for their needs, interests and emotions will experience difficulty in developing the required level of commitment, and they will consequently not be able to realise their working potential.

Thus, researchers state that those leaders who ignore the role of emotional intelligence in the workplace often miss opportunities to make their teams more productive and creative by focusing on employee engagement (Schutte and Loi 135–136). Humphrey et al. pay attention to the fact that studies support the significance of emotional intelligence in improving employees’ communication (750). For example, individuals who have developed skills in recognising and managing their own emotions and the emotions of their colleagues can achieve better results in negotiation, decision-making and problem-solving.

The examined literature on the topic provides a range of arguments to support the idea that it is vital to apply emotional intelligence and emotional management in the workplace in the form of developed communication and cooperation skills. In a working environment, the effectiveness of individuals’ work depends on their abilities not only to perform professional tasks but also to interact (McCleskey 77; Robbins and Judge 138). Therefore, the knowledge developed with reference to emotional intelligence plays an important role in helping employees to improve their collaboration in the context of creating a positive working atmosphere.

For example, those employees whose emotional intelligence is higher rarely experience stress and problems in communication, and this positively affects their performance (Humphrey et al. 751). When employees in the workplace and their supervisors and managers develop skills in managing their emotions and addressing the emotions of other people, they can succeed in discussing problematic issues, meeting all possible challenges and problems constructively and focusing on positive aspects of cooperation.

Case Examples and the Survey

The conclusions made by researchers in their articles regarding the high relevance of emotional intelligence to the workplace are also supported by real-life business cases and examples of companies that have successfully adopted the principles of emotional intelligence in practice. There is the example of famous North America’s bank that experienced difficulties associated with the productivity of its IT department.

The problem was that employees’ productivity in the IT department, which was responsible for implementing innovative ideas and strategies, was lower than in other departments, and employees seemed to be uninvolved in active work and cooperation (Institute for Health Human Potential 4–5). The comparison of the assessments and results in different divisions of the bank demonstrated that mere investment in material resources or a focus on development of skills were not sufficient to bring about the expected positive results.

More relevant strategies for addressing the issue needed to be proposed. Thus, ‘the bank discovered that managers who were more aware of their emotions and capable of managing those emotions in the moment were better able to respond appropriately and productively in difficult situations – the foundation of emotional intelligence’ (Institute for Health Human Potential 5). It was found that a focus on such aspects of emotional intelligence in employee relationships as listening, understanding, coaching and support contributed to increasing productivity and improving performance.

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The findings in this case can serve to clarify the importance of using emotional intelligence in the workplace, demonstrating how various approaches to applying this principle in different departments of one organisation can affect employees’ interactions, productivity and overall performance.

Although some may opine that emotional intelligence and management are not as significant as the professional qualities of employees, this example shows that much attention should be paid to individuals’ interactions and their emotions as well as perceptions to achieve higher results in the workplace. The case demonstrates that it is ineffective to ignore the role of emotions, self-regulation, and empathy while working with other people. Therefore, this case backs up the position argued in this paper: the relevance of emotional intelligence and management to the workplace is high.

In addition, there are also examples related to the cases of other firms that have concentrated on applying emotional intelligence in their work. In the restaurants of the UK Whitbread group, managers with high emotional intelligence demonstrated the higher profit growth, customer satisfaction, and lower turnover levels. Furthermore, sales agents for L’Oreal who had better-developed emotional management competencies contributed significantly to the company’s revenue growth of more than $2,550,000.

Moreover, as another example, Motorola’s training in emotional intelligence contributed to a significant increase in employees’ productivity as more than 90% improved their productivity (Institute for Health Human Potential 5–8). These real-life examples help to support the idea that a focus on emotional intelligence in the workplace is important to improve not only employees’ relationships but the overall performance of a company as well.

The findings can also be supported by the results of a web-based survey that presented questions investigating how the principles of emotional intelligence were followed in different companies and what outcomes could be observed. The sample for the survey included 19 participants from various organisations who were recruited with the help of the purposive sampling technique. It was found that 89% of the participants agreed that emotional intelligence is important in the workplace because it creates a positive and effectively controlled working environment.

Moreover, 77% of the participants said that they had tried to work better when they viewed their emotions and interests as recognised and supported by managers and supervisors. Those participants who work in managerial positions stated that their own developed emotional intelligence competency helped them to build positive and productive relationships with employees.

Conclusion

The research on the question of the relevance to the workplace of emotional intelligence and emotional management demonstrates two opposing opinions regarding the application of these competencies within organisations. Still, more arguments promoting the significance of emotional intelligence can be found in the literature. Therefore, the purpose of this report has been to promote the idea that integrating emotional intelligence in the form of empathy, self-awareness, self-control, the management of emotions and sensitivity within the organisational culture is a significant step towards success.

The reasons presented in scholarly sources and real-life cases are as follows: emotional intelligence in the workplace leads to building strong and cooperative relationships between employees, helping avoid misunderstanding and conflicts and promoting positive attitudes. In order to improve employees’ productivity, commitment and performance, leaders can be motivated to assess their emotional intelligence and then offer training to develop their skills. As a result, it is possible to expect positive changes in communication between employees, improvement in the work of teams or groups and a decrease in employee turnover.

Works Cited

Cole, Graham. “Emotional Management in the Workplace: Age and Experience as Key Influences.” Development and Learning in Organizations: An International Journal, vol. 29, no. 4, 2015, pp. 31-33.

Humphrey, Ronald H., et al. “The Bright Side of Emotional Labor.” Journal of Organizational Behavior, vol. 36, no. 6, 2015, pp. 749-769.

Institute for Health Human Potential. Executive Summary: The Business Case for Emotional Intelligence. 2014. Web.

Maidique, Modesto A., and Nathan J. Hiller. “The Mindsets of a Leader.MIT Sloan Management Review, 2018. Web.

McCleskey, Jim. “Emotional Intelligence and Leadership: A Review of the Progress, Controversy, and Criticism.” International Journal of Organizational Analysis, vol. 22, no. 1, 2014, pp. 76-93.

Ovans, Andrea. “How Emotional Intelligence Became a Key Leadership Skill.Harvard Business Review. 2015. Web.

Robbins, Stephen P., and Timothy A. Judge. Organizational Behavior. 17th ed., Pearson, 2017.

Schutte, Nicola S., and Natasha M. Loi. “Connections between Emotional Intelligence and Workplace Flourishing.” Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 66, 2014, pp. 134-139.

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