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CW 60: Cara Silletto

Can you read the room? Did you know your ability to read the room and connect with your staff often drops, as you move higher up the management ladder? Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is considered one of the most desirable characteristics in a leader, as it is the ability to sense, understand and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions to facilitate higher levels of collaboration and productivity. In this episode, Workforce Strategist, Cara Silletto will explore the core factors of EQ and why it matters for employee turnover!

Did you know your ability to read the room and connect with your staff often drops as you move higher up the management ladder. Welcome back to Bridge the Gap Contributor Wednesday, I’m Cara Silletto, President and Chief Retention Officer at Magnet Culture. Our company focuses exclusively on reducing unnecessary employee turnover for organizations like yours across the country. So far this year I’ve discussed employment markets, generational dynamics, the cost of turnover, and ways to improve retention. And several times in my podcast, I’ve mentioned the importance of management effectiveness, how influential the managers and supervisors on your team are regarding whether a staff member stays or goes well. Now I’d like to focus on emotional intelligence, EQ as many call it, which is very different from IQ. And your general intelligence level, your emotional quotient, or EEQ it actually measures your ability to read the room, to know your own style and others within a relationship or within a social setting.

So I wanted to share with you how we have actually found, and many studies have been done, for example, by groups like talent smart and the author of emotional intelligence intelligence, 2.0, they said that as you go into supervisor and manager positions, your EEQ tends to rise because you start to understand the dynamics of your team. But then if you get up to a director level and beyond oftentimes ETQ drops at that point. A lot of that goes back to what we talked about last month, with the disconnect between our frontline, the higher up you go. If you’re not working with and communicating with your front line every single day or every single shift, then you’re often going to focus more on the business metrics, more on your spreadsheets and more behind email. And so we often become disconnected from our workforce, and that’s when you’ll often find your emotional intelligence starts to drop off.

Even though a high IQ is probably what got you promoted up into those director and higher level positions. But we see that drop as we shift our focus on different priorities within the business. So let’s start with explaining that all events are neutral. Okay. Now I know that sounds crazy, but think of a sporting event, if one side wins and is elated and clapping and cheering and so excited because they won what’s happening on the other side, you’ve got a team of losers, right? They are crying and feel defeated and very emotionally sad or angry. And so that actual ball game, the event itself is neutral, but humans are what my friend, Laura Leeton calls, meaning making machines. We bring meaning to an event. So even events, and I know this might be startling, but even events like 911, acts of terrorism, acts of war, of course, for those of us in the states, that is a devastating day.

But think about others. Think about those who were on the other side of that act. There are others who feel joy, who feel cheer in a situation that is so horrific for others. So I use that example as crazy and as powerful as that might sound to just make us realize that we bring emotion to every situation. And it’s going to be based on not just our upbringing, but where we stand on a certain topic or where we live or what religion we are, those types of things that will bring more meaning to every single event that happens in our lives. All right, now, emotional intelligence is not that we shouldn’t have emotions at work that we need to just squash that, but it allows us once we understand our EEQ, it allows us to have emotions without being emotional in the workplace.

Okay. So that’s what we’re going for here, we want to understand our emotions. Now, when I have time to dive into this topic in workshops, we walk through the emotional language that a lot of people are missing. We have a very limited language in which emotions are happening to us. And yet if we dive into what does irritation or annoyance really look like and sound like, and feel like versus a much more extreme version of anger, which might be rage or fury, what does that look like? Sound like and feel like for me and for others. And what’s interesting is we often find out in these workshops that one person’s irritation, their response and their physical response to the way that they sound, do they raise their voice, do they slam a door? One person’s irritation response might look like somebody else’s rage response.

You know, if somebody is quick to really slam those doors or to raise their voice and those types of things. So it’s really interesting to dive deeper into this and find more language around the emotions that we do experience in and outside the workplace and to have more self-awareness for every single manager about how they respond in emotional situations or situations that provoke certain emotions from them. Okay. So what I’d like to do now is just give a quick overview of the five dimensions of EEQ. So the reporting that we use comes from a group called teeth, and they have broken your EEQ scores. When you take the assessment and get your report back into five particular dimensions, it’s self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation and then social awareness and social regulation. So let me give you some definitions on that real quickly, because you may find that you’re really strong in a couple of these areas, but other areas may want to improve, improve upon why, because we need to stay connected with our folks. And we need to make sure that we have a really effective management approach, where we keep our emotions in check and we can and regulate our own emotions when necessary. We can read the room when others are around and in some cases we can even socially regulate where we can, for lack of a better phrase, talk someone off a ledge, right. That we can step in and help them have a more appropriate emotional response, especially in the workplace. So self-awareness is first, and this is your ability to recognize and understand your own moods, emotions and drives. So if you think about really understanding where you are with your emotional response to things, do you realize that something causes an emotion in you? Do you realize the emotional responses you have to things, are you aware of the physiology logical response that your body has when emotional things happen?

So in a workshop, for example, I would show really powerful, emotionally triggering images and ask the room how their body responded. It’s so interesting because if I show a picture of some where the pictures are happy, some are sad, some are scary, some are exciting, some are frightening, and from a fear standpoint, those kinds of things, and people will tell me, oh, Kara, my hands got really sweaty. Or I caught myself holding my breath when I was looking at that picture. And we really have some physiological and physical responses to emotions when they come to us. All right. So being self-aware is understanding how events and those emotions, when they hit you, how your body responds, how your demeanor changes and what language and communication tactic you use when you turn around to respond to that emotion.

Okay. So the first step is just self awareness. Now, the best way to develop that if someone needs to get better is of course, behavioral assessments, like disc that we’ve talked about in the past, other assessments, 360 feedback, motivational assessments, just understanding yourself, where you’re coming from, why you see the world the way you see it, you know, the lens that you see it through and becoming more self aware of your position and your unique lens. Okay, that’s the first step. Then we go to self regulation, which is, can you control or redirect is my favorite word there? Can you read the wrecked, disruptive impulses and moods? Are you able to suspend judgment? My friends? Are you able to wait and pause and think before you have a knee jerk reaction to something, or before you lose your temper, those types of things, this is where self-regulation comes in.

So it’s not taking the emotions out. It is just understanding that your emotions and your emotional response does affect your decision-making. It does put you in a different emotional state and it is going to impact the way you make a decision. So for example, it could be positive or negative if I find out we just closed a big contract. Yay. And I’m going to give everybody raises, because I’m on cloud nine, right? My CFO is not going to be very happy with me for being so excited that I just gave everybody raises and didn’t crunch the numbers first. All right. That is just as dangerous as, why did you do that? Who do you think you are? You made a big mistake and it’s going to cost us. You’re fired. All right. Same situation. We don’t want to make a decision when we are in a very heightened, emotional state, whether it’s excited or angry or other very drastic emotional states that we might be in. Okay. So in order to work on your self-regulation, you really need to understand your emotional temperature, be able to check your temperature and cool that down, right? Take pauses, take a break. Some people who struggle with self-regulation and really need to work on that. It may even be a situation of stress management, anger management, time management can often help even project management. You know, if you know somebody who really struggles with procrastination, for example, and they procrastinate. So then they’re at the end, they get really emotional because they’re stressed and I’m going to miss my deadline and they get I’m really upset and have a short views, maybe take it out on other people, sometimes projects, the management for that person will actually help with the regulation because they’ll learn how to backstep their timeline in order to do things in a more planned and prepared way so that they’re not pushed up against the deadline and then reacting poorly to others. What happens if you walk up to somebody who’s on a deadline and particularly if they procrastinated and they’re feeling guilty already that they weren’t, I waited so long and then you need something from them or you interrupt them. And sometimes they just flip their lid, right? I cannot help you right now. I’m busy, that type of thing. So if you’ve got folks on your team or yourself who need to work on self-regulation, absolutely really understand first your behavioral style and your own approach. And then working on that management of your time management of those emotions and your stress level in particular is really going to help sometimes adjusting your work-life balance also helps because oftentimes we get a short fuse. If we have not gotten enough sleep or things are stressing us out at home, those types of things, we may need to start saying no to some things and get stuff off of our plate to get back to some clarity and in a good frame of mind for decision-making all right, the next factor, the next dimension of IQ is motivation.

And this is really about yourself again, and it’s not external drivers like motivated by money, motivated by learning or not knowledge motivated by recognition. It’s not those kinds of things. This particular motivation on the TTI emotional intelligence report is about your intrinsic or internal motivation of do you want to be a better performer? Do you want to make better decisions in general? And so oftentimes the score of someone’s motivation, the higher that score, it goes all the way up to a hundred. And if you have a score close to a hundred, or really, you know, above 75-80, typically that is going to be a person who has very consistent decision-making. They have a process for it because they’ve worked on it. They realize that they don’t want emotions to impact their decision-making. So they have a process or, or they just know how to cool down and take time to make very consistent decision making decisions.

Instead, a person who has low motivation might not really care. I don’t care if people get mad. I don’t care if I have to backpedal later, I made the decision in the moment. Okay, fine. Right. So somebody like this may make decisions solely based on how they feel at the moment. And come on, we’ve all worked with somebody like that, right? That one day they would answer this way in making a decision. And then the next day they might have answered it differently. Or they may even backtrack on the way they decided yesterday because they were in a heightened, emotional state. Now they’ve cooled down and they changed their mind because they thought more about it. Right. So we don’t want to be that person for our team because it drives people crazy. Okay. It totally drives people crazy. If you’re the one who’s inconsistent and we have to say to you, no, me and my team have to say, oh, well, should we go ask her today? Or should we wait till tomorrow? Does anybody talk to her? What kind of emotional state is she in today? Right. Happy, sad, angry, busy, those types of things. Right? So we really want to work on the internal motivation in order to become a more consistent decision maker and a better manager for our team. All right. Now the fourth and fifth segments of EEQ are social and social regulation. So we already did self-awareness and self-regulation, but to really get strong in your emotional intelligence, you need to be able to read the room, which means those around you, not just yourself, that’s the first place to start, but to really get good at leading others, you need to be able to recognize and understand the emotional makeup of other people and how your words and actions are likely to affect other people and their emotions. 

Yeah. You know, somebody probably on your team, let’s say you’ve got to give bad news to the team and you know that one person’s going to react this way and another person’s going to react a totally different way. That’s because they have different styles, maybe even different IQ levels as well. And so if you are socially aware, you can then adjust your style to make sure that you are reading the room, picking up on the nuances and the subtleties of other people’s; facial expressions, body language, what kind of mood are they in picking up on that? So then when you deliver the bad news, maybe you realize I can’t do this in a team staff meeting. I need to do this one-on-one because I’ve got to adjust so that people see it differently, right? So that they can process it differently more so because one person might have a gut reaction or a knee jerk reaction while others are more analytical and are going to process it differently.

So we may want to approach that in different ways. So it’s kind of a combination thereof, did you read the room? Do you know your people, are you socially aware of who’s who, and then are you going to socially regulate, which means your ability to influence the emotional clarity of others? So I’m going to think before I tell the person, I’m going to think about how they’re going to respond and I’m gonna adjust my approach to regulate their emotional response. I’m going to do the same for person B and I’m going to adjust my approach so that I can hopefully regulate their response and keep them calm, keep them cool and take the brunt of it. You know, if I know they’re going to have a bad reaction, I could take that brunt and buffer that so that the rest of the team, maybe doesn’t see it in a staff meeting, this highest level, the fifth level of social regulation, it takes so much proficiency in managing relationships and building networks.

It really is such a high level of EEQ that you want to try to attain, because those are the best leaders to work for. They are the best team members to work with because they can read the room and they can even influence and regulate the emotional responses of others when that’s necessary. Okay. So you want to work on those things through building your influential skills, your negotiation skills, leadership, development, teamwork, team, building, trust, building, those kinds of things can also help you get to that highest level. So what are EQs assessments used for? A lot of people ask me this, of course they’re great for leadership development, right? Managers at every level, directors, even supervisors, certainly the department leaders should go through an IQ assessment and have either some debrief coaching or some training on this because that’s how they’re going to get really, really good at leading others.

So of course, leadership development, it’s great for team building as well to talk about it on your team, all these different dimensions and whatnot, some folks use ETQ for hiring and for promotions, you gotta be really careful because you don’t want to weed people out just because they don’t have a high level of IQ yet, because remember your EEQ can go up and down. Unlike disc and other behavioral assessments that are pretty much set, honestly, by the time you’re five or six years old, we know whether you’re an introvert or extrovert. And we know whether you’re people oriented or task oriented and your disc, unless you have major life events, shouldn’t really change over time where your EEQ absolutely can improve and even decrease if you don’t stay on top of that. Okay. So you don’t want to use EEQ for hiring and weeding out people saying they don’t have a good enough IQ score for this job, but instead you’ll then know that that’s their ETQ level currently.

So you can create a development plan around that and or they’re really great for your hiring interviews. If you get their EEQ score, it tells different areas where they are strong or may need improvement. And those are things you can talk about in the interview to give you a much more robust conversation there before you make a selection. Also, in sales training, I think EQ is critical for sales folks, because they can learn to read the room. Not only are our staff and in our workforce, not only do we need to be able to read the room there because they’re like our internal customers, but also as we’re talking with potential residents, loved ones, others who are considering our community as a place to live, it’s crucial that we understand their emotions in this process because then the salesperson can read the room better and communicate more effectively with them.

So here’s a trick. If you want some tips here, here’s a trick for how to kind of check your emotional intelligence and I encourage you to track your emotional temperature. I want you to set random alarms, go to the alarm app on your phone and set random alarms for the day, for the week, do this for several days to where it’s going to pop up on your screen and remind you to take your emotional temperature. You want it to be random because you want it to really catch you in the act of emotionally responding to something. So then take a journal and write that down. What were you feeling in that moment and what caused that feeling? What was the trigger that put you in that particular emotional state? A lot of times friends, your emotional state can impact you for several hours. If not multiple days, it can impact you for several hours, at least in the workplace where maybe you got an email or got bad news from somebody in the morning that really upset you, that could inhibit your clarity, your decision-making and your leadership clarity for several hours, because you may harp on it and it it’s going to stick with you, right?

So we’ve got to learn what these triggers are that set off certain emotional responses, and then ways to reduce, to reduce that at least negative or heightened state that may throw you out of a good decision making mindset. Okay. So identify the trends when you take that journal and figure that out with a quick tip. I can give you two, if you do find that you are sometimes short fused or you do react pretty heavily to emotional situations and whatnot or have a very emotional response to situations, I encourage you to remember PAC. PAC pause, assess, choose; alright, pause, assess the situation, the reality of it and different options, different angles, and then choose your response. We can take a moment, try to make sure that you don’t ever allow a knee jerk reaction to impact others around you to upset anybody or confuse anybody. So when you get that information, whether it’s really exciting news, or it’s not so good news, we definitely want to pause, assess that situation fully before we choose our response and or decision in that situation. Okay. Now, if you go to my hidden webpage, all right, has a great ebook on 10 ways to improve your emotional intelligence. So feel free to go download that ebook, share it with your leadership team, have a conversation around it, or do a friendly challenge of use those 10 ways to set some friendly competition within your team of who can work on their EQ and work on that social regulation and self-regulation, and really get those emotional responses back in check. Now, if you’ve never had an EQI assessment, please reach out to me because it is so powerful and you’re going to want to do that.

You probably even want to have your leadership team go through the EEQ training and or AICCU debriefing and coaching one-on-one because it is so eye-opening for folks to get these results. It is such an aha moment when people realize what they are good at, and some things that they may have been good at in the past that have fallen off, or just areas for improvement, where they know they need to work on those emotional responses. Moving forward, you can get in touch with my, or you can of course, email me directly, reach out on LinkedIn, all that fun stuff, but we can get you and your leadership team some reports. And also we have the ability to certify you in emotional intelligence. So if you want to do your own training and debriefing and things like that, let me know, and we can actually get you certified in EEQ. Well, that is all for today. So we will talk more about workforce and leadership next month. And if you want to learn more retention strategies in the meantime, or ways to become a better manager, you can always grab a copy of my book, Staying Power; Why Your Employees Leave and How to Keep Them Longer. It’s available on Amazon Kindle and audible. I’m Cara Silletto and thanks for listening to this week’s Bridge the Gap Contributor Wednesday. Don’t forget to connect with me at If you haven’t already, have a great day.

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CW 60: Cara Silletto