Anna Preston

Change Management – Where Does Emotional Intelligence Fit In?

There are many different components that come together to determine the success of change management, and one of these is emotional intelligence.

When major change is occurring within an organisation there are a variety of components that will determine whether the change will be a success or not, i.e. whether it will be fully implemented and embedded on the organisational culture and processes. One component is emotional intelligence.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence allows people to demonstrate their own emotions fully, to empathise with others, and make decisions based on an awareness of all of these emotions.

There are five main types of emotional intelligence:

• social skills

• motivation

• empathy

• self-regulation

• self-awareness

So let’s take a look at emotional intelligence in relation to major organisational change.

Emotional Intelligence in a Changing Workplace

We know that the people within an organisation are key to the successful implementation of change. Where people are enthused about the change they will help drive it forward; but where they are resistant and obstructive – often because of unaddressed concerns and fears – they will actively hamper change. Clearly then it is highly important to both encourage the honest expression of emotions and be aware of their impact.

People involved in managing change in the workplace must be able to communicate with a wide range of other people both within and outside the organisation. They must be aware of their behaviour and capable of enthusing and motivating the people involved in, and affected by, the change.

It is often the soft skills necessary to implement change that are absent in the workplace and it can be harder to train people in facilitation skills and communication skills (and other soft skills they need) than it is to train them in technical skills. It is for this very reason that they are so important to success when major change is underway.

Yet, ironically, many people believe senior management in their organisations lack soft skills. Perhaps because employers place more emphasis on other skills in the workplace. Yet by focusing on soft skills and emotional intelligence there is a higher chance of success in all areas of business including where organisational change is being implemented.

It is quite clear, then, just how important emotional intelligence is in a change management environment – not just for the change manager but for everyone involved. Change management courses will usually cover the people skills needed to develop or improve emotional intelligence in addition to the other aspects of change management required for success.

This includes being able to provide leadership, manage change, and operate in a complex work environment. And also how to collaborate, influence, and negotiate with people and departments at all levels to understand the impact of major change. Also how to deal with the issues that could hamper full implementation of the major change; whether that is a new process a new IT system or any other new way of working that affects people on an emotional level.

Emotional intelligence will give change managers, indeed all managers, the tools to succeed in any situation. Don’t overlook the importance of it.

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