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9 Signs Your Workplace is Emotionally Unintelligent – and How to Intervene

Research shows many fleeing corporate America are driven to do so by increasingly low emotional intelligence in the workplace. And who’s taking flight will surprise you (not).

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BY Scott Mautz - 12 Jul 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Here's a troubling trend.

Other than fidget spinners I mean.

Research among those recently leaving corporate life indicates a surprising thread. Guess what strength is most common among the newly departed?

High EQ (emotional intelligence).

Now, compare that to the increasing commonality of a low EQ workplace and you have a 'no duh' explanation for the exodus.

Are you operating in a low EQ workplace that gives high EQ'ers fits, and the sense that they don't belong?

Here's how to tell. Look for these 9 signs of "emotional unintelligence" and wise the workplace up by employing the advice that follows.

1. Business goals are uninspiring at best

Do you genuinely care if your business unit hits a 25 percent market share? Unless you've got a major equity position, I'm guessing no.

What people do care about are goals that translate to something that serves a higher purpose, a goal with personal meaning. Something they can relate to. Who is that 25 percent and how are you serving them and making their life better?

That's your goal.

Yes, numbers matter. Until they're numbing.

2. The people affected by decisions are rarely enrolled

Being cc'd rather than enrolled on a decision is disempowering and deflating. Frankly, leaders that do this show low IQ and EQ.

Is it so difficult to understand that people must weigh in before they can buy in? Has the art and science of showing people they're valued and valuable actually become rocket science? Is it completely missed that decision-making processes can unchain instead of drain energy?

Enroll early and often.

3. Leaders conduct inquisitions, not inquiries

Some of the most emotionally bereft behavior leaders can engage in happens at leadership team meetings. Employees come in for a checkpoint on projects and instead of helpful questioning and curiosity, they're met with a "you must get past us" mentality. Leaders might even lash out more than they listen.

No, no, no.

Role model interactions with teams that leave them looking forward to leadership meetings rather than licking their wounds thereafter.

4. It's all head, no heart

Environments rich in analysis, planning, and preparation still need one other critical element.

A pulse.

High EQ'ers need to know that a passion for people, in addition to rote progress, is a priority.

Put empathy, compassion, and the needs of employees on the agenda along with that topic on inventory levels.

5. Micro-management is used like a security blanket

Raise your hand if you like to be micro-managed.

Micro-management is a sign of many things, most troubling of all is insecurity. It demonstrates zero trust, indicates selfishness, and smacks of low self-confidence.

Show your leadership peers what astonishing empowerment looks like. Macro-managing exhilarates.

6. Problem employees go unaddressed

One word for you--fester. That's what unaddressed problem children will do. It saps the energy of great employees, shows a stunning lack of concern, and is a knife in the heart of an organization. A lack of courage in addressing the negative ions is the ultimate in callousness.

Fix. It.

7. Meetings are for advancing a career, not a cause

I use the word "cause" knowingly here--a cause is worthy, and worthy of a meeting. Cultures that leverage meetings primarily for opportunities to look good is kryptonite to a high EQ'er.

If meetings are used in part to help showcase the deserving, different story. But such is far too uncommon.

Go ballistic on the number of meetings held, and the reason for holding them.

8. Rewards and recognition are cookie-cutter

Nothing says "I don't care" like "caring" the same way for everyone, all the time, with no thought.

A cookie-cutter approach to rewards and recognition can make recipients feel as unappreciated as if they weren't getting rewarded or recognized at all. Take the time to understand how each employee likes to be recognized and what makes each individual employee feel valued.

Personalize, so you don't trivialize.

9. Deciding not to decide is the infuriating norm

Not understanding the impact of indecision reeks of low EQ. Timelines stretch, costs skyrocket, and employees want to impale themselves on a letter opener.

Consider the cost of not deciding and decisively change the standard operating procedure.

Workplaces with heart, soul, and intellect are a beacon. So leave a light on for the emotionally intelligent--and maybe they won't flutter away.

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