Your team has just completed a day of training around emotional intelligence. Everyone is energized but a new work week begins and the pressures of the workplace mount.
How do you keep the momentum going?
It’s a common problem. It’s a kind of “summer camp phenomenon”. Everyone is inspired by the new learnings and eager to implement change! People are exposed to new ideas but they return to the habits of their old life.
The excitement of new EI skills can sometimes slip away as everyone starts to respond to the 150 emails that accrued.
It’s hard to make a culture shift. There’s no button to push to make this happen.
Here are a few ideas to help carry the learning forward into a workplace to help your team rise and create a culture of emotional intelligence skills learning.
Encourage individuals to make action plans
When individuals have action plans, there’s a commitment to change. Every EQ-i 2.0 report contains an action plan. Fill it out and commit to your own growth. Gently ask other people how their action plans are going. And make an effort to reflect out loud about your action plan now and then.
A good action plan is simple but it lets you take aim. Aim again. Test. Test again. Look back at where you’ve been. Commit to some different steps. There is no perfectly crafted action plan. The map is a work in progress. It’s organic and there will be adjustments along the way.
Make your learning public
Role model using the EI model in reference to your own personal and professional development. Even if you don’t know you’re using the language of EI quite right, just expressing curiosity about a particular EI skill or idea can help centre the importance of the EI model for everyone.
For example, at a leadership meeting, exercise your impulse control competency by recognizing and announcing that you have a default. Or recognize and announce that you have a default belief about an issue and that you want to improve your reality testing by being curious about other people’s perspectives around the table. This is reality testing and impulse control development in action.
Mutual coaching dyads
This is also known as the buddy system. Implementing a mutual coaching system, to help encourage growth can help immensely. It enhances accountability. It gives everyone an opportunity to have ongoing dialogue. There are components of your learning you may not want to share with everyone.
Your coaching partner gives you a safer way to start using the EI language, and asking EI questions, and engaging in EI learning. It ups commitment, and it helps embed EI into the culture.
There is no better way to focus on your social and emotional intelligence skills than to have a coach. Building skills and changing course takes grit and practice, and, well, help. Coaches are trained for this. Normalize having a coach, encourage team members to get a coach, and support team members to work on their coaching skills.
Experiment, make space for, and acknowledge, growth
The best team players and the best leaders create opportunities for the people on their team to grow and learn. This is not about assigning people smart goals.
Think about leadership as sometimes leading from beside and leading from behind. Creating opportunities can be as simple as reflecting back to people what they have just said about making a change or stepping in to fill a gap.
Sometimes, creating opportunities for people is as simple (or as challenging) as having empathy, instead of moving into a “solutions” or problem-solving mode.
Sometimes just asking someone what EI competencies might relate to their challenge can lead to new breakthroughs.
Humour can be a great way to experiment with the proviso that humour should always punch down. It’s best to self-implicate. Laughing together is a powerful way to create belonging and create the conditions for growth.
So try on some cheeky EI humour. “I’m feeling the air leave my empathy-balloon.” Or, “I’m working the kinks out of my reality testing muscle.” Or perhaps, if you’re talking to your friend: “try turning on your emotional self-expression.”
And remember to actively catch and celebrate each other being emotionally intelligent!