We hear much these days about how we can be more emotionally intelligent. But how often do we think of companies as having emotional intelligence?
One person who does think about the EQ of organizations is Paul Warner. He’s a PhD in clinical and industrial-organizational psychology and vice president of Customer and Employee Experience Strategy at InMoment. He’s developed criteria to assess whether companies have the emotional savvy to keep their employees happy and fulfilled.
His approach to testing an organization’s emotional health focuses on the following three thought-provoking questions:
1. If your company were a person, would you want to be friends?
The answer to this question says a lot about whether you should stay with your company–or look for another organization. Friends generally make us happy, so ask yourself, “Do I feel happy when I come to work?” There’s a spark of enthusiasm and energy that we feel when we’re with people we like. Do you get the same buzz when you step into the office that you get when you’re having coffee with a friend? The best companies will listen and value your opinion the way a friend does. To be sure, companies have their own ways of listening, including face-to-face meetings with managers and employee surveys. But no one should have to wait for an exit interview or a posting on Glassdoor to voice their concerns.
Good friends are open and honest too. Does your company meet that test? We don’t expect a friend (or organization) to tell us everything. But what we enjoy in our best friends is a level of disclosure about what they’re doing in their lives and how they feel about us.
Such disclosure is exactly what we want from companies and their management. Do your leaders share with you and other staff their thinking, their plans, their stories, their values, their challenges and how they intend to solve them? Good companies have a culture of disclosure and a willingness to share where they see the company going and how it’s likely to affect employees.
In a company that sharing can come from your boss, or division head, or CEO, but it should come from someone who’s in charge. And these messages are best delivered not by email or bulletins, but in person by leaders in dialogue with employees.
2. Does your company view you in a way that is consistent with how you see yourself?
If the fit is right between your company and you, there should be an alignment between the way you see yourself and how your company sees you. For example, take issues of sexual orientation and race. You should feel the environment is totally welcoming. If you’re gay, the company should encourage you to be as open as you want to be.
If you want to have a healthy work/life balance, your company should show understanding with a set of supportive policies.
Organizations should also value the talents you bring to your role. Ask “Does this company value my creativity and leadership qualities?” One way of answering that is by assessing how much positive feedback you get regarding these strengths.
Job satisfaction also requires a company that has a value system consistent with yours. If your agency’s primary focus is making money, but yours is creating public service ad campaigns, you may experience a disconnect. When you work with a company that shares your values, say, helping to foster development in low-income communities, you’re more likely to gain deep satisfaction from your work.
When you go to job interviews, or are thinking of joining a new company, interview that organization with your questions. That way you’ll know in advance whether you want to be with that firm.
3. Is your company doing what it can to help you become a better person?
A good company, one that displays high levels of emotional intelligence, will develop your skills, and help make you a better and more productive person.
The best companies have mentoring programs or their equivalent, where new employees learn from more senior ones. More broadly, talent development should be embedded in the organizational DNA. There should be regular, thoughtful feedback from your boss and other leaders. The best feedback teaches you to do something better. You can’t improve unless someone constructively shares their observations with you. A company with a supportive culture encourages its leaders to help employees in this way.
Finally, the best organizations help you (and other employees) become better people by consistently adhering to and promoting a set of values. For the top companies these ideals will likely include courtesy and politeness; the importance of collaboration; the need to listen and respond to others; and the value of caring. If you’re in a company where the culture is competitive and cutthroat, those negatives are likely to rub off on those around you. If you sense those vibes, it’s likely time to update your resume.
If you respond positively to these questions, it’s likely your company is a good place for you to work. As Paul Warner puts it: “These questions elevate conversations above the functional aspects of the employee experience, by tapping into the emotional factors that make people tick–or in their absence tick people off. The key is to create environments where employees feel valued, and are valuable to the business.”