Gaze through the training calendars of large organisations in Kenya. A gambler might place money betting that emotional intelligence training features prominently on most human resource training agendas.
Consultants, companies, NGOs, and government ministries and parastatals all clamour for the training.
Human resources professionals often request to lead emotional intelligence training, but employees rarely self-identify it as a need or want for training purposes. Emotional intelligence training is easy to download online and simple to administer.
But for the already emotional intelligent, such training can prove excruciatingly obvious and boring.
Those lower on their emotional quotient must sincerely listen, internalise, and practice the techniques for any positive effect to occur as a result of such instruction. If self-assessments are given to employees to determine who needs training, just like personality and intelligence tests, the surveys can often be faked to give better results than actual emotional intelligence levels.
Then 360-degree evaluations of colleagues’ emotional intelligence often end in score-settling rather than real evaluations.
Golnaz Sadri defines emotional intelligence as four dimensions of one’s skills and behaviours that first involve someone’s ability to recognise and understand their own emotions and commensurate behaviour.
Second, an individual’s capabilities to regulate one’s emotions and behaviour.
Third, the extent to which a person can understand the emotions and behaviour of those around them.
Fourth and final, can someone use skills one, two, and three to then rise above and regulate other people’s emotions and behaviour.
The benefits of high emotional intelligence are numerous and proven.
In a corporate and business world, emotional intelligence is strongly associated with heightened levels of leadership effectiveness. Emotional intelligence can prove so useful and predictive in one’s professional career that it can act as a greater indicator of success than even personality or cognitive ability.
Someone does not have to be the smartest person on a team to necessarily succeed, but the best at building others up and soothing frayed emotions. In contrast to one’s private lives, high emotional intelligence can lead to far fewer spousal spats and blowups.
The debate has swirled around whether emotional intelligence can be improved. Some users of emotional intelligence questionnaires and self-assessments query whether training just makes participants aware of what emotional intelligence is about and how to respond on surveys to look a certain way or whether training improves actual emotional intelligence over the long term.
Lynn Waterhouse interrogates whether the empirical data supporting emotional intelligence and its usefulness really should lead to a ubiquitous all-encompassing theory that should be taught in educational and training settings. But other researchers directly challenge Ms Waterhouse, namely Cary Cherniss, Melissa Extein, Daniel Goleman, and Roger Weissberg.
The majority of social scientists find emotional intelligence useful and supported by research.
Researchers Raquel Gilar-Corbí, Teresa Pozo-Rico, Barbara Sánchez and Juan Castejón find that schools and organisations can improve learners’ emotional intelligence through either online, in-person training, or coaching with coaching having the biggest impact on improvement. So, training works. But do companies utilise the training in the right settings for the right reasons?
Writer Merve Emre criticises how emotional intelligence concepts are rolled out as moral blueprints for corporate behaviour that ignore people’s struggles including deep-seated anxiety, fears, and depression while minimising how horrid colleagues can be with insults and microaggressions that could bring justified righteous anger.
Companies often roll out emotional intelligence training to help employees deal better with their teams and supervisors instead of fixing the structural, organisation cultural and managerial issues that trigger the stress and the emotion in the first place.
Instead of heaping the burden of better responses onto employees, employers must also own up to and fix systemic organisational problems and not utilise emotional intelligence training as an easy escape from responsibility.
Dr Scott may be reached on [email protected] or on Twitter: @ScottProfessor