If you were asked to name the top challenge of today’s IT workforce, what would you say? Being able to navigate big data and analytics? Adapting to changing technology? Knowing how to guard against cyber attacks? All of these technical challenges are real, but they are not what CIOs named as their top IT workforce challenge. Instead, 60 percent of CIOs said the toughest challenge was finding and hiring IT talent with the right mix of technical and soft skills creativity, cognitive flexibility, and emotional intelligence.
In the face of steep business competition and rapid technology change, building emotional intelligence (EQ) in your workforce has become essential if you want your organization to thrive. In this post, we will examine why your IT team needs to develop their EQ and strategies to help build these soft skills, ending on what’s at stake if your team fails to nurture their emotional intelligence.
"Twenty years ago, people branded themselves as SAP experts and even focused on a specific module, and that was going to be the focus of their entire IT career. Those days are gone. Today it’s about technology athletes—people who are curious and are always looking to solve business problems through technology.”
When you imagine an athlete, you picture someone resilient and agile, a person who’s capable of adapting to changing circumstances. This is who Shurts had in mind when he describes technology athletes—the sort of IT experts who have trained themselves to perform well even under today’s rapidly changing business conditions. Some of the most valuable training to handle uncertainty is EQ training, which develops soft skills like problem solving, creativity, and communication. This kind of soft skills training helped one company increase productivity and retention by 12 percent, delivering a 2.5X return on investment for the EQ training program.
These soft skills are universally valuable because they help your IT department apply technical expertise to softer business problems that benefit your entire organization. Rather than thinking tactically about creating a specific IT service for a specific issue, an emotionally intelligent IT team can think strategically about why a problem exists, innovate a user-friendly application of technology to address that problem, and effectively communicate with other employees in how to make best use of this new solution. In short, an IT team with strong EQ can help your company tackle business uncertainty with a strategy instead of a reaction.
“The good news is that soft skills are learnable. In fact, resilience training experts, who specialize in teaching and training in the soft skills, would go further to say they are foundational to creating strong employees, teams, leaders and organizations.”
The first step toward improving EQ is wanting to learn how to do so—and your employees are definitely interested in their professional growth. LinkedIn reports nearly three quarters of employees want to learn during their spare time at work. Here are three ways to train EQ in emotional awareness, communication, and a sense of purpose:
These are only some basic starting places for EQ training, but they give you an idea of the kind of emotional intelligence you want to teach and encourage in your workforce. By training your team’s EQ, you are well-prepared to tackle whatever complex business challenges come your way.
”People must be able to work together well, or a company won’t meet its goals. …In today’s rapidly changing business environment, we just don’t have the time to wait for teams to become stronger organically. We have to be intentional.”
Emotional intelligence is not some fuzzy concept that might intangibly help your organization. Instead, it’s the glue that holds your workforce together. Teams with poor EQ struggle to solve problems together effectively, cannot communicate efficiently during tight timelines, and have managers who fail to get the best out of their employees.
And as Carol Lowe says, the pace of business is too quick to hope our teams develop emotional intelligence organically. Instead, we need to take the need for IT to develop EQ seriously by training soft skills like emotional awareness, creativity, and problem solving. This can cultivate a sense of company purpose among your employees that inspires their best work, no matter how complex the challenges they face.
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