7 Ways To Foster Your Emotional Intelligence

According to Emotional Intelligence (EI) expert and author Harvey Deutschendorf, “the realization that E.I. has become an important predictor of job success, even surpassing technical ability, has been growing over the past number of years”.

Companies are placing a high value on E.I. in new hires for many important reasons. People with high E.I. understand and cooperate with others, they are exceptional listeners, open to feedback, have more empathy, and make thoughtful and thorough decisions.

In work, we all regret a time when we have all reacted too quickly to a situation or person and not given ourselves enough time to breathe, think and work out the best possible response. The good news is that we can all work on our level of EI – we can all become more emotionally intelligent and less volatile in the workplace (and in life generally)

Here are a few simple tricks to help you on your way

1.   Pause. Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings. Clear your mind.

After pausing and acknowledging your emotions, your mind will already feel much clearer. Nehad Tadros

2.   Breathe

Set aside two minutes – relax and breathe deeply. Then write down a couple of potential solutions to your problem.

3.   Focus on what you can change

When you hit a setback, separate the parts of the situation you can control or influence from the parts you cannot. Focus on what you can influence, and notice how much more confident you feel about overcoming the setback. Dawn Cook

4.   Be Friendly and open and smile

Chat to people, smile, ask them how they are and listen to the answer. Be naturally engaged.

5.   Find something impossible to do and practice it

It sounds corny, but it’s a profound mental switch. Just try saying, “I can’t,” and then “I can’t yet” – the emotional experience is dramatically different. The first is a wall. The second, a door. Joshua Freedman

6.   Be Open and Honest

Create opportunities to informally share what you feel and ask for feedback. This may seem daunting at first particularly if you are naturally reserved person but with practice is will become more natural and hopefully put you in a happier and more relaxed space.

7.   Be self-aware

I think it is very important to be able to acknowledge the areas in which you are weak and not be scared to verbalise it. You would be surprised how happy people are to give you a dig out and assist when you ask.

From time to time, I forget to follow my own best advice and go onto regret it later. However, the good news is that I really want to and enjoy trying to improve upon my skills in the whole area of EI. Realistically, it is always going to be a work in progress for me but hey-ho honesty is always the best policy!

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on ways you too can foster emotional intelligence!


Be values focused, profits and wins will follow!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending DCU’s Leadership and Talent Institute Conference on the subject of “Leadership for a Sustainable World” The content of the day was insightful and provided great food for thought. Particularly interesting for me is that many of the principles and points being made were simple and very much back to basics i.e. being respectful, taking responsibility, being aware and having integrity.

There were speakers from all over the globe – and while it was great to hear from thought leaders in Darla Moore School of Business, University of Boston, Unilever, Maturity Institute, DCU and Joe Schmidt, next year it would be great to hear from Irish companies as to how we are making a difference and contributing to the Leadership and Talent discussion.

Food for thought from the day.

According to Professor Pat Wright of the University of South Carolina, Succession planning is critical to business sustainability – the risk of getting it wrong is very costly and this is well documented.

Research shows that traits of successful CEO’s include humility, willingness to accept feedback and unselfishness. On the other hand, traits of unsuccessful CEO’s are arrogance, failure to listen and selfishness.

According to Stuart Woollard of the Maturity Institute we need to think in terms of “Societal Value” ie the best quality at lowest cost (including cost to the environment & society) Companies should be managing people for value not cost. Stuart had plenty of examples to support this theory eg Costco & Toyota. They have a focus on Societal value and guess what? Their margins are a lot higher than those of their closest competitors.

Doug Baillie, ex CHRO of Unilever spoke about the Unilever’s VUCA world – volatile, uncertain, complicated and ambiguous. Unilever strives to be a giver to society not a taker, to make a positive social impact and to reconnect with individuals and communities.

And what does leadership look like in a VUCA world in 2020? Leaders will be values based with purpose – they will be authentic, adaptable, resilient, systematic thinkers and results oriented.

How do you get started in establishing sustainable leadership? You must start at the top with role models who lead from the front. These role models must be courageous and committed and help people to work out what their individual purpose and contribution might be. It starts today – what will your contribution be?

Joe Schmidt, Irish Rugby Coach talked passionately about taking responsibility and being accountable. This needs to be passed down the line, we all have a role to play. It is not what you say it is what you do! Circumstances are not always perfect, you just have to work with what you have and get yourself into a place to be useful. Always acknowledge people for their performance and contribution. No point in doing something efficiently that does not need to be done at all.

I particularly liked this point, do the ground work, build a firm foundation and then use this as a springboard. Make sure that you have a context before you embark on your bold plan. Last, but by no means least, never overlook the importance of saying good morning to your team every day. By acknowledging employees at all levels you are building engagement and confidence and buy-in. Simple, cost free but effective – just ask Joe!

According to Dr Jack McCarthy of the University of Boston we now have a triple bottom line….we need to be able to balance People, Planet and Profit? We need to move from controlling, ordering and predicting to acknowledging, creating and empowering. We need to be curious, connected and considerate!

Dr Janine Bosak of DCU finished off the day by discussing the underrepresentation of women at senior executive levels in Irish companies. Despite equal numbers of well-educated men and women joining the work force, by the time they get to senior management and above these ratios are grossly out of sync.

Everyone agreed that this needed immediate attention – what people were uncertain about it why this phenomenon exists. Discrimination and stereotyping was discussed as was women’s lack of self-confidence when it really matters. As a working mother of three, I also feel it is directly related to an-inbuilt tendancy for Irish women to feel guilt, self-imposed and societal.

Cultural change takes time, but we can all start to-day and make a difference by opening our eyes and watching out for women who are potentially vulnerable in our organisations.

So whether from Academia, Private or Public sector, NGO’s or Sports, Ireland, Addis Ababa or the USA, there were common threads throughout the day. Respect, responsibility, awareness, values, community and society.

Companies and teams should be values focused and the profits and wins will most certainly follow!


Thanks to DCU Leadership & Talent Institute

HR Professionals – How to increase your sphere of influence

Earlier this month, DCU Business School and Professor David Collings hosted a really insightful round table on how the HR profession can go about increasing their sphere of Influence in the work place. A number of HR professionals met up to explore this topic and discuss ways of achieving optimal results and to hear the views of Shirley Kavanagh Head of Talent and Organisation Effectiveness who shared her thoughts as follows:

  • Participate in and Enable Business Strategy – HR should move from the concept of an enabler of Business Strategy to also participating in the creation of Business Strategy.
  • Ensure Organisation Effectiveness – HR needs to take a broader view of HR into thinking about the effectiveness of the Organisation as a whole. This can help to ‘land’ HR activities and make them more business relevant.  This organisation effectiveness agenda includes culture, organisation structure and design, Leadership Development and excellence in all people manager processes.
  • Build connectivity in solutions – HR must not deliver individual solutions. There should be a ‘story’, a connectedness to each solution to ensure that there are strong links to both business strategy and between solutions. Never lose sight of the objective and remind stakeholders of that objective also. Too often people get caught up in building a solution….but a solution for what?
  • HR Structure must be created to ensure collaboration, joined up solutions, and value added partnership with the Business. Build your structure based on core principles and effectiveness, this may mean making a bespoke structure that fits the culture and structure of your organisation. Remind HR Business Partners who are partnering to the Business that they must avoid going native to that culture within that business. Their strength is in ensuring alignment but maintaining objectivity.
  • For HR to influence the function must be a force of change, innovation and challenge.
  • HR must be brave!


Accenture – Setting a trend??

Recently Accenture, one of the world’s largest companies, announced that it is going to “ditch” annual performance reviews for over 33,000 staff.
Accenture plan on introducing a more “fluid” system, in which employees receive timely feedback from their managers on an ongoing basis following assignments.
Accenture says that all the time, money and effort spent didn’t ultimately accomplish their main goal — to drive better performance among employees.
Similarly this year, Deloitte announced that it was piloting a new program in which, like at Accenture, rankings would disappear and the evaluation process would unfold incrementally throughout the year.
My thoughts are as follows:
• Many PDR processes are purely box ticking exercises – if this is not the case for your business, then you might even share the secret of your success with us!
• Regular reviews of work is a far more effective and natural means of providing feedback to employees. Everyone should know where they stand and there should be limited or no surprises along the way.
• The simpler the PDR process the better – short and sweet is good.
• If you are going to go down Accenture’s path be aware that some managers are either too busy or incapable of providing constructive feedback to their team members. Senior management need to be aware of this and compensate for this lack of skills where possible.
• If you are going to stick with your more formal annual PDR process, please make sure you follow through on the piece which refers to “anything that we can do to help you do better in your job” There is nothing more disengaging for employees who come up with constructive ideas and then you don’t hear another word as managers go back to their “real job”
In summary, I am delighted with this latest trend and look forward to hearing how the debate unfolds for other corporates around the globe.
At HRsearch, we would really like to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Employee Engagement – Whats the secret?

In times of tightening skills supply, employers are increasingly realising the importance of having employees as engaged as much as possible.

What some employers don’t realise is that employee engagement is not like a tap that can be turned on (and off) when required.

Employee engagement needs to be intrinsic in the fabric of a business and comes about through providing employees with a work environment that fosters hardwork and loyalty.

Features of a workplace that I would expect to see in such an environment:  Trust – Open Communication – Fairness – Gratitude – Flexibility – Understanding.

I have recently started a new role with HR Search and am happy to report that I am 110% engaged as are my fellow colleagues. A rewarding, comfortable and proactive environment helps me enjoy my work, while staying engaged and motivated to be the best that I can be.

“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.” –Doug Conant