Does Your Performance Management Plan include Emotional Intelligence Competencies? Studies have proven that today’s entry level workers are lower in Emotional Intelligence than previous generations. This does not bode well for the GenX and GenY cohorts, because employers are looking for such skills, especially important in the Customer Service world. Emotional Intelligence defined is the ability to adapt, to empathize and to master emotions in yourself. Sounds simple enough, however more complicated because it requires a shift to personal accountability. The good news is that Emotional Intelligence can be learned, and can become part of the normal coaching process.
Daniel Goleman, in his ground-breaking book “Working with Emotional Intelligence” quotes a study where two thirds of the Performance Competencies required in the world of work are Emotional Intelligence competencies. It is not enough to be smart, as he says less college, more kindergarten.
A lack of emotional intelligence in employees can negatively affect your customer satisfaction scores. Unfortunately we don’t have to look far for examples of this. Recently, I was at a nursing home and a resident was walking into the dining room. The hostess asked her why she was late for her seating and she replied, My best friend just passed away. The hostess said, fine I will seat you here, next time please advise us if you will be late. Wow! That’s a lack of empathy at its best.
Goleman’s theory outlines five essential elements of Emotional Intelligence, he also outlines 25 competencies in his Emotional Intelligence model:
Out of control emotions can make smart people stupid.” – Daniel Goleman
We have all encountered situations at work where people are their own worst enemies, not seeming to be able to see their own weaknesses, or to evolve and mature. Maybe you know someone like this. Perhaps they take performance feedback personally, play the blame game or lash out at others. Are there undercurrents in your team or corporate culture that do not foster Emotional Intelligence? Does your team or company encourage Emotional Intelligence by role modelling behaviours from top down, no excuses no exceptions? I often say that great customer service starts with the CEO on down – always walk your talk. The same applies to Emotional Intelligence:
“A person might be highly empathic, for example, and yet not have learned the skills based on empathy that translate into superior customer service…” Daniel Goleman
Customer Service Training is not enough! Applying Emotional Intelligence metrics to your Performance Management program is critical to ensuring that Emotional Intelligence is fostered in your organization, not just for front line employees, but from the CEO on down. If 58% of your bottom line is based on Emotional Intelligence, you need to encourage this culture.
Goleman suggests four basic competencies for Customer Service Staff:
Self-Control (this is always included in training programs, and is critical in dealing with difficult customers – keeping emotions in check)
Conscientiousness (Taking responsibility for your own performance)
Empathy (Awareness of others’ feelings, needs and concerns.)
Service Orientation (Anticipating, recognising, and meeting customers’ needs)
These skills are all equally important, and we can screen for these skills in our hiring process. Too often we accept that potential employees have previous Customer Service training, only to find out when hired the new employee does not have the required skill set, then we either spend money re-training them, or we add to our turnover rates.
Emotional Intelligence is not a fad, it is a critical life skill as well a critical skill at work. Goleman ran studies of leaders in a wide variety of companies and discovered:
“On average, close to 90% of success in leadership was attributable to emotional intelligence.” Daniel Goleman
If these numbers ring true, we as leaders in the customer service world need to pay close attention to the culture we are fostering and ensure that we are tracking and quantifying emotional intelligence in our performance management programs.
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*Survey of American Employers: The Harris Education Research Council, “An Assessment of American Education, “ New York City 1991