How to Build Organizational Buy-in for EQ

Convincing leaders, resource decision makers, or an entire organization to invest in emotional intelligence development (EQ) is a daunting yet worthwhile challenge.

When you succeed at getting buy-in across the organization, the results give your people and your organization a competitive advantage: Not only are high EQ employees happier, more engaged, and higher performing, but also a positive cumulative effect begins to take hold. As EQ becomes a living and breathing part of company culture, people operate from an emotionally intelligent framework. They develop a strong accountability for understanding and managing the range of emotions that surface and influence their interactions. They also use a common vocabulary around emotional intelligence that allows them to connect, make decisions, be more agile, foster inclusivity, build trust, and handle conflict (among other things).

At TalentSmartEQ, after more than twenty years of helping organizations build buy-in for EQ, we’ve implemented a vast assortment of approaches that work. Here are five of our best.

  • Tie EQ to your business needs. One of the best ways to avoid making EQ seem like just another “nice-to-have training” is to connect EQ directly to business needs your industry values. Our clients in hospitals offer a great example. Physicians, nurses, and hospital staff tend to be swamped, so you have to make a compelling case to convince them to take the time to train above and beyond their clinical skills. To get their buy-in, many hospitals turn to HCAHPS surveys—a hospital rating system conducted by patients that focuses largely on patient care. The surveys dictate a significant source of hospital funding, and of the survey’s 25 items, 16 can be boosted by developing EQ skills (items include things like careful listening, showing respect, and communicating clearly). By outlining the close connections between successful patient care and emotional intelligence skills, decision makers readily see how EQ skills affect their bottom line, and hospital staff see how EQ skills support the patient care experience on a daily basis.
  • Connect EQ to your existing competencies. Why not start with the core behaviors that make up your company values? Employees should already know the significance of the competencies that matter to the organization. The value of EQ becomes obvious when you lay out exactly how EQ can help people grow those competencies. Say, for example, your company values risk-taking. Employees will experience hesitation or fear as they approach potential risks. To take the risks effectively, they have to get good at managing those emotions in real time so that their risks are calculated, not reactive. At the same time, team members have to be good at listening and hearing people out when they present an idea, and they have to be good at dealing with conflict as people inevitably disagree. Connecting EQ to core competencies works well, especially because many core competencies are people competencies and are influenced by emotional intelligence skills training.
  • Win over influential people as early adopters. Office politics are inevitable. Make sure you have influential people buying into EQ from the beginning because those people alone can cast a wave of support and alignment. Ask them to think back to memorable moments when they grew the most as a professional, and you’ll often hear a story of EQ skills in action at your organization. Invite your EQ champions to kick off training sessions with a few EQ stories to inspire your next generation of high EQ leaders.  
  • Bring EQ in from multiple angles. Offer EQ learning opportunities across a variety of stages in someone’s career, and their understanding of EQ and ability to apply it will deepen with time. For example, applicants to your organization may first hear about EQ during their interview. Then, as they’re hired and onboarded, they’re oriented to what EQ is and how it’s valued at the company. Along the way they have access to open enrollment or online learning courses where they can assess their EQ strengths and weaknesses. Later on, high potentials and first-time supervisors enroll in a deeper dive of EQ development training and take a retest to track progress on their EQ behaviors. Leaders attend development programs with EQ 360 feedback and coaching follow-up. On top of all that, EQ can be built into yearly performance review discussions. Teams are asked to assess their team EQ for a team retreat and create team EQ actions plans together. To come full circle, your recruiters and hiring managers are trained on EQ interview questions and what to listen for in candidate responses…The point is, as you increase the number and variety of EQ touchpoints, EQ becomes increasingly a part of how your workforce interacts with customers, suppliers and each other. People will naturally begin to use it as a framework for the work they do.  
  • Measure progress and results. If you want to build buy-in, show people the numbers. There’s plenty of existing research across industries of how EQ training has drastically improved performance, but you can bring this message closer to home by measuring tangible performance results of your own and publishing them for your employees. Whether its sales numbers going up, safety incidents going down, or patient ratings improving, when you can tie EQ and performance together with tangible data, people will get on board.

From Insights to Action. No two organizations are exactly the same, so they need different ways of implementing EQ to fit their learners, their culture, their budgets, and their goals. Reach out to TalentSmartEQ at 888-818-SMART or visit us at https://www.talentsmarteq.com/contact/ to learn what might make the most sense for your organization.

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