A young man wearing a grey t-shirt smiles at the camera.
Alex Young, Virti. Image: Flick.digital

How to develop emotional intelligence in your remote team

25 Jan 2022

Virti’s Alex Young examines the importance of emotional intelligence and shares tips on how employers can help their teams develop this.

Recent research shows that soft skills will remain a top priority for employers in 2022. EQ, or emotional quotient, is a standardised measure of a person’s emotional intelligence: their ability to interpret and manage their own emotions and those of the people around them.

This is a key soft skill that can determine how your team communicates and responds to challenges. A high EQ is linked to better stress management, stronger interpersonal relationships and improved job satisfaction.

Future Human

And with many employees now wanting to work from home for at least part of the week, it’s more important than ever to develop your team’s EQ to overcome communication silos and monitor colleagues’ wellbeing when you’re only seeing them over Zoom.

Here are some ways to achieve this.

Identify and share people’s strengths, weaknesses and goals 

The idea of making an individual employee’s goals and areas for improvement public to the entire team can feel exposing. But it’s a great way to enable your team to support one another to achieve what they set out to and share in each other’s success.

At Virti, for example, everyone’s individual goals can be easily viewed and accessed by the entire team throughout the year, so that we can better understand what everyone is working towards and share knowledge to help one another improve. This level of transparency when it comes to goal setting is a great way to boost your team’s EQ and encourage closer connection and collaboration.

Be transparent and stick to your promises   

If people are to thrive in a remote work environment, they need to know where they stand at all times. If they’re not getting regular face time with senior management and colleagues, employees can start to feel insecure and out of the loop.

And if people feel uncertain, they don’t have the reassurance and support they need to look out for others and develop their emotional intelligence.

To overcome this, create a transparent working environment where calendars are open, meetings don’t happen behind people’s backs and asynchronous communication takes place on shared platforms like Slack, so everyone has oversight over what’s going on.

Ensure regular meetings with your team are upheld and avoid cancelling at the last minute, as people need to feel as though their time is respected. If you say you’re going to do something – especially when related to a colleague’s personal development – stick to your promises or make it clear why you weren’t able to do what you set out to, to ensure your people feel valued and seen.

Give opportunities to practise soft skills 

All too often, workplace onboarding and training focuses on the hard skills required to perform a role well. But soft skills can make all the difference between a good outcome and an excellent outcome from any interaction.

Soft skills such as communication, leadership, empathy and resolving conflict are essential if your team is to create positive experiences for colleagues, clients and stakeholders. Good soft skills are also an essential hallmark of a strong EQ.

Employees should be given plenty of practical opportunities to practise soft skills in a safe and supportive environment, just as they would if they had to learn to use new IT software, be that through in-person role play or the use of virtual reality tools.

This will ensure your people are prepared to handle communication challenges calmly and professionally should they occur in the real world.

Encourage peer-to-peer teaching

Peer-to-peer teaching has proven benefits when it comes to consolidating people’s knowledge of a topic and creating an open learning environment. Working together also gives employees space to get to know one another’s working styles and build trust.

Building trusting and open relationships is essential when developing your team’s emotional intelligence, as it creates an environment where people will notice when a colleague they know well appears to be having a bad day. People can also lean on trusted colleagues when they’re feeling stressed, concerned, burnt out or demotivated.

Giving people regular opportunities to work closely with others will help them develop EQ, as it encourages close working relationships and fosters an open and supportive culture across the team.

Encourage honest feedback

Not only will an emotionally intelligent team be attuned to the needs and feelings of colleagues, they’ll also likely be thinking about the health and success of the business at large.

And nurturing a curious and dedicated team with strong emotional intelligence is of little use if you don’t value their perspectives. You want to be in a position where your team feels they can share ideas to improve both company culture and commercial prospects. What’s essential is that you listen to suggestions and feedback from your team and take their ideas seriously.

Empowering everyone to share grievances, ideas or genuine concerns can reduce stress, improve people’s job satisfaction and enable you to solve problems quickly.

By Alex Young

Alex Young is the CEO and founder of Virti, a digital training platform that aims to improve employee engagement.

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