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Demonstrating exceptional Emotional Intelligence during covid crisis

Emotional Intelligence is the one factor that can help professionals to tide over the present crisis and bring in success:

Shiv Kumar Bhasin

Viruses evolve through random mutation. Humans evolve, too. But we generally have to use our oversized brains to do it. We must do it by choice not by mutation. So, let’s get started. Let’s recognize this moment as an opportunity to develop new patterns of responding to threats. If the next bio-threat is of similar toxicity, we need life and business patterns that move us more routinely to compromise. If we don’t make risk mitigation a way of life, risk elimination, and its unbearable costs, will be our only alternative the next time as well.

Emotional Intelligence (EI) requires individuals to have a solid control over their own emotions, as well as an acute awareness of the people around them. Self-awareness is the foundation of it all, and the first step to becoming a master of emotional intelligence.

EI is all about empathy, inclusion, and respect – traits that are more important than ever at a time when managers and employees have no idea what challenges their colleagues are facing amid a pandemic and a massive economic contraction.

EI Crucial in the Digital Workplace

The healthiest company cultures make all employees feel like valued stakeholders whose concerns and opinions are taken seriously. This is why one of the most valuable traits managers and other colleagues can have is empathy. Take control of your emotions. It’s a myth that stress is simply about our reaction to circumstances – the reality is that even in stressful situations, we can still choose how to respond. Train yourself to accept and adapt to difficult circumstances rather than letting your emotions take over. Following are 2 key points for improving the EI quotient within yourself and your team members:

First, become self-aware: Self-awareness simply means knowing how our personal traits affect the way we function in a work environment. Reflect on how your personal traits affect the way you accomplish tasks so that you can build awareness of how others perceive you. Take control of your emotions.

Collaborate across the organization: No two people are alike, which means we all bring something different to the table when it comes to collaboration. Be mindful of how the personal traits of others impact their priorities and overall team dynamics. Use empathy to resolve conflicts.

Identify Signs of Burnout

With the extended timeline for remote working and, subsequently, fewer in-person collaboration opportunities, the challenge for leaders – or even managers – to spot these behaviors becomes even trickier. This requires leaders to focus on learning about their employees and watching for several subtle changes in an employee’s work practices or attitude.


Douse the Burnout

IT leaders should incorporate an emotional and empathetic dialogue in 1-on-1 meetings to enable a more natural discussion regarding the topic of burnout. One idea for this could be to introduce 1-on-1 with directs and frequent all-hands meetings to understand the different emotions of employees. Every employee is different, and each situation must be addressed with a fresh perspective. Not only will these 1-on-1 dialogues reduce the possibility of the employee feeling even more stressed by the sudden concern, but they can also provide critical background information that may support the comprehension of the employee’s challenges.

Here are 3 more techniques. First, share success stories and best practices of how others have combated burnout. This will enable other employees to relate these lessons learned to their own personal experiences. Second, educate employees and add this topic to team meetings. This helps everyone feel they are not alone, that this is a real condition. This helps break through any negative stigma. Third, organizing weekly meetings and broader happy hours can help initially, but part of addressing burnout is disrupting a negative flow when people feel symptoms arising. Employees need to feel more empowered to schedule short, impromptu breaks, or chats when needed.

Step took by me for improving EI Quotient in my organization:

  1. Introduced daily department/team level huddles.
  2. Introduced fun hours during the work-day:
  3. Set up Friday afternoon happy hour to get-togethers with pizza or soft-drink virtual party.
  4. Set up knowledge sessions for various soft-skills and technology skills.
  5. Introduced training programs on how to effectively work using digital communication tools (Instant Messengers, Instant File/Document Sharing Utilities, Digital Whiteboards, Online Discussion Groups, Online Discussion Boards, Online Documents Collaborations Tools, etc).
  6. Etiquettes for instant messaging and emails.
  7. Educating on how to leverage Digital Communication Tools based on various remote working scenarios – Digital Whiteboard, Digital Sticky Notes, etc.
  8. Publishing intranet applications for any device anytime-anywhere helps teams to collaborate better even if they are away from their offices in their hometowns.
  9. Kicking off business process re-imagination program to simplify and make the lives of stakeholders simpler.

CIO: Savior & Transformer

Covid will have a lasting impact on the future of work. Demand for remote work will increase due to a stronger preference for this by Gen Z. Covid has accelerated this trend. The biggest accomplishment for many CIOs in 2020 is a classic IT responsibility – provisioning laptops and VPN connections for remote workers.

CIOs helped save many enterprises during the covid lockdown. They now have the attention of the CEOs in a way that they haven’t before. Digital business CIOs have been trying for years to convince senior business leaders to modernize and take full advantage of technology. Now many roadblocks that were thrown up have been removed. Boards of directors have launched a large majority of enterprises on digital business acceleration. CIOs and technology teams must seize this moment, because they may never get another opportunity like it. However, to maintain the continuity of this digital growth EI quotient needs to be built up right from middle management to top management.

Productivity Link

There is a direct link between productivity and EI. The biggest contributor to the productivity of the highest performer is their ability to collaborate and learn from others, and in turn, influence those around them. Working in IT usually means working under pressure, and a high level of EI is essential for working effectively in such an environment because it helps regulate habits and choose responses. The ability to successfully juggle conflicting priorities relies much more on strong social awareness, self-awareness, and self-management than it does on the ability to analyse and rationally evaluate the information available.

From IQ to EQ

In my experience, for a person to become aware of the blind spots in day-to-day communications with peers and stakeholders, he needs to be Self-Aware. How many times have we had an interaction with someone who is really smart in terms of his Intelligence Quotient (IQ) but has no clue as to how you are feeling, what you are thinking or how to handle a challenging situation! There are 3 key areas: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, and Social Awareness, which take anyone from IQ to EQ. Self-Awareness is the ability to realistically understand your strengths and weaknesses and recognize their impact. Self-Management is the ability to control your disruptive emotions and impulses. Social Awareness is the ability to accurately understand other people’s emotions and perspectives as well as their needs. This includes accurately assessing what happens in a meeting or the changing dynamics of a team or organization.

Even though an individual may have enough knowledge and brilliant ideas, if he is not managing to control his emotions and feelings, he can get difficulties in his trying to build human relations or a success career. Mankind is the most intelligent species in this universe, and let us use emotional intelligence to win over and master covid-19 kind of pandemic crisis… let us all put it to use.

Shiv Kumar Bhasin is CTO & COO, National Stock Exchange of India


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