State of the Heart

I was interested to receive my copy of the latest State of the Heart report last week. This has tracked the changing trends in Emotional Intelligence in the workplace since 2011 and is derived from the Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Assessment. It’s authored by Joshua and Patricia Freedman and Tommaso Procicchiani and published by Six Seconds, a global non-profit organisation.

Most of the work I do in organisational culture change seeks to improve the levels of empathy and connectedness in organisations. Disconnects between leaders and managers; and between managers and employees are the main reason companies fail to perform as strongly as they would like to.

The report is packed with good insights but allow me to share one or two that might be useful to you if you lead a business. Overall it looks at four success factors that impact productive collaboration: ‘Effectiveness’, ‘Relationships’, ‘Wellbeing’ and ‘Quality of Life’.

In 2021, ‘Effectiveness’ is still tracking as the highest factor present, despite a significant drop from 2018-19. The most significant decline is the ‘Relationship’ success factor, whilst ‘Quality of Life’ and ‘Wellbeing’ have tapered less dramatically. This, of course, reflects how working conditions have changed for so many people during the pandemic.

The decline in the strength of ‘Relationships’ is a sure sign that remote working cannot continue to drive the collaborative space. A company made up of people who are individually effective, but who lose the ability to build and maintain productive relationships, will be short-lived.

It is no surprise that Stress is on the rise; impacting innovation negatively and increasing workplace aggression. The report also shows the link between stress and distrust which quickly erodes the social fabric of an organisation. Loneliness and emotional distress are also increasing.

One of the main areas we need to focus on now is relationships. When people feel that they are part of a community they will be more productive and engaged, and they will also feel safer. Only when our teams feel like this will commitment and discretionary effort increase.

What can we do in our homes, communities and workplaces to encourage stronger relationships and unlock our collective ability to work towards a brighter future?

Leaders certainly need to think about how they will inspire an increase in optimism. Managers should be considering whether the tried and tested directional management style is appropriate any longer. Managing in a coaching style – encouraging others to solve problems and recognising their contribution – certainly motivates younger generations of African employees. At the end of a second difficult year, let’s think about how we can help colleagues to maintain stamina.