Em­ployee en­gage­ment

build bonds that bind


Alka Gupta, Bafel, ex­plains how emo­tional in­tel­li­gence can help lead­ers es­tab­lish a bet­ter con­nect with their teams.

In his 1998 HBR ar­ti­cle ‘ What Makes a Leader’, Daniel Gole­man says, ...my re­search, along with other re­cent stud­ies, clearly shows that emo­tional in­tel­li­gence is the sine qua non of lead­er­ship. With­out it, a per­son can have the best train­ing in the world, an in­ci­sive, an­a­lyt­i­cal mind, and an end­less sup­ply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader*. A high emo­tional quo­tient is un­doubt­edly a cru­cial lead­er­ship at­tribute, which will go a long way to­wards in­creas­ing em­ployee en­gage­ment and stem­ming at­tri­tion.

Mov­ing on’ is the law of the world, and al­most ev­ery­one is in search of greener pas­tures in their pro­fes­sional lives. Rise in mar­ket prices and in­creas­ing liveli­hood de­mands are prompt­ing peo­ple to seek bet­ter re­mu­ner­a­tion, and this, in turn, is lead­ing to poor em­ployee loy­alty and high at­tri­tion rates.

Such a sce­nario poses a tough chal­lenge to em­ploy­ers— re­tain­ing their em­ploy­ees by mo­ti­vat­ing them and at the same time en­sur­ing op­ti­mal pro­duc­tiv­ity. Hence it is im­per­a­tive to es­tab­lish a bond of mu­tual un­der­stand­ing with the em­ployee and de­velop an ap­proach to­wards en­gag­ing them.

At present, many or­ga­ni­za­tions have in­tro­duced ac­tiv­i­ties to make the work­place more fun (free food, bring your dog, etc.); fam­ily-friendly ges­tures such as on-site day care and flex time; in­clu­sion strate­gies (in­volv­ing peo­ple in de­ci­sions), and re­ward­ing per­for­mance

(time off or bet­ter renu­mer­a­tion), to re­tain their em­ploy­ees and en­sure max­i­mum lev­els of sat­is­fac­tion.

These may sound at­trac­tive, but this ap­proach is flawed be­cause it fo­cuses only on the pe­riph­eral as­pects. True en­gage­ment of em­ploy­ees largely de­pend on the genre of the job they han­dle, and is al­lied to the bond they share with the em­ployer. To cre­ate true em­ployee en­gage­ment, busi­ness lead­ers should be care­ful while deal­ing with their team mem­bers. In a world gov­erned by clas­si­cal eco­nomics, peo­ple are pre­sumed to pro­duce more with in­creased re­mu­ner­a­tion. But this mind­set does not func­tion be­yond a cer­tain level and stum­bles due to in­creas­ing em­ployee de­mands. There­fore, it is nec­es­sary to build a bond of loy­alty and be­long­ing­ness with fel­low work­ers.

How­ever, re­search has re­vealed that this can also be viewed as a means to con­trol be­hav­ior, which sel­dom is ac­cepted eas­ily. In such a sce­nario, lead­ers should be more open while work­ing with their teams. This will en­sure bet­ter ver­bal com­mu­ni­ca­tion and ad­e­quate trans­parency. For in­stance, com­pa­nies such as Glass­door are work­ing hard to bet­ter con­nect with both em­ploy­ees and job­seek­ers. Also, they know that in or­der to sus­tain their or­ga­ni­za­tional cul­ture and to hire the right can­di­dates, they need to con­nect with them, and be can­did and trans­par­ent. By do­ing so, they will be suc­cess­ful in cre­at­ing a pos­i­tive aura and in­stil­ing a sense of loy­alty. If the work­force is happy and con­tented, the out­come will be as de­sired and goals can be met on time.

To tackle the prob­lem of at­tri­tion and earn em­ployee loy­alty, many busi­ness lead­ers have em­braced the con­cept of ‘emo­tional in­tel­li­gence’ —those with a high emo­tional in­tel­li­gence quo­tient are con­sid­ered to be su­pe­rior team play­ers, and flex­i­ble and adapt­able in na­ture. In­cor­po­rat­ing emo­tional in­tel­li­gence in the work cul­ture is an im­por­tant step to­wards build­ing a strong bond with co-work­ers and

Peo­ple are pre­sumed to pro­duce more with in­creased re­mu­ner­a­tion. But this mind­set does not func­tion be­yond a cer­tain level.

en­sur­ing that they stick to the organisation for a longer pe­riod. This will help in sav­ing the cost of re­cruit­ment time and again and also of train­ing new peo­ple. Fur­ther, with the mush­room­ing of new work­places, tech­nolo­gies and in­no­va­tions, emo­tional virtues may be­come pro­gres­sively more significant in en­gag­ing work­forces over a long pe­riod of time.

How­ever, while deal­ing with dis­con­tented work­ers, es­tab­lish­ing an emo­tional con­nect in terms of coun­selling them im­pacts the sen­si­tiv­ity of the is­sue, on the whole. In or­der to make the emo­tional in­tel­li­gence strat­egy suc­cess­ful, there are a few skills which busi­ness lead­ers should nec­es­sar­ily learn.

start with your­self

You should be able to han­dle your own neg­a­tive emo­tions in any busi­ness sit­u­a­tion, in or­der to boost emo­tional in­tel­li­gence among your col­leagues. By do­ing so, you will avoid any ill feel­ings that can con­fuse your judg­ment and over­power you. Har­ness­ing pos­i­tive think­ing at work will help in cre­at­ing a bet­ter work en­vi­ron­ment. Also, try con­sid­er­ing mul­ti­ple per­spec­tives of the work/per­son you feel poorly about.

con­nect and en­gage

Lead­ers should learn how their man­age­ment sup­ports each em­ployee’s au­ton­omy and pro­fi­ciency and builds re­la­tion­ships. By mak­ing emo­tional in­tel­li­gence the pri­mary driver in leader ef­fec­tive­ness, you can in­flu­ence and build suc­cess­ful re­la­tion­ships, which are largely emo­tional tasks. Emo­tion­ally in­tel­li­gent lead­ers are less re­ac­tive and more re­spon­sive in giv­ing space to their col­leagues—by work­ing along with them and of­fer­ing an ap­pro­pri­ate level of au­ton­omy. They also help em­ploy­ees see the link be­tween their daily work and the larger pic­ture, en­sur­ing a bet­ter con­nect with them.

em­ployee mo­ti­va­tion

Emo­tion­ally in­tel­li­gent peo­ple are self-mo­ti­vated and not en­thused by just money or a par­tic­u­lar des­ig­na­tion. They are usu­ally flex­i­ble and op­ti­mistic, and mo­ti­vated by in­ner as­pi­ra­tions. Acts of good­will such as ap­pre­ci­a­tion and re­wards can serve as mo­ti­va­tion for em­ploy­ees, time and again, leadig to bet­ter re­ten­tion and loy­alty of your em­ploy­ees.


To be ef­fec­tive, lead­ers have to con­nect with their team mem­bers at a per­sonal level; and to do so, they should un­der­stand what drives their peo­ple. This re­quires a high level of emo­tional in­tel­li­gence—sens­ing how oth­ers feel. This abil­ity to em­pathize let you achieve bet­ter ser­vice and gen­uine re­sponse from oth­ers.

trust your em­ploy­ees

Lastly, it is im­per­a­tive to trust your co-work­ers and build a pos­i­tive rap­port with them. This will en­sure they re­spect you and re­main loyal, and en­sure you get a pos­i­tive re­sponse from them. In ad­di­tion, show­ing trust to­wards oth­ers will help in avoid­ing power strug­gle and back­stab­bing. ■

You should be able to han­dle your own neg­a­tive emo­tions in any busi­ness sit­u­a­tion, in or­der to boost emo­tional in­tel­li­gence among your col­leagues.

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