Managers, supervisors keen to improve EI skills

Only 1 per cent rate 4 skill areas as strong: Survey
||Last Updated: 10/18/2012

Nine in 10 (91 per cent) Canadian managers and supervisors feel it’s important to continue improving their emotional intelligence in the workplace and believe it is possible to do so. However, they have more challenges than strengths in their skill areas, according to a survey released by the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace.

"Emotional intelligence in the workplace encompasses skill areas such as the ability to deal with other people's negative emotions and reactions, to understand and manage our personal reactions, and to communicate effectively, including resolving conflict," said Mike Schwartz, senior vice-president of group benefits at Great-West Life and executive director of the centre. "While clearly recognizing the importance of these skills, almost half (47 per cent) of respondents are rated as challenged in one or more of these skill areas, and only one per cent of managers were rated as strong across all measured skill areas."

The skill areas where respondents experience the most challenges in working with distressed employees are communicating effectively and understanding their own emotional reactions — nearly one-third of the 2,317 managers and supervisors surveyed had challenges in these areas.

However, female managers and supervisors are likely to have more strengths and fewer challenges in four key skill areas for managing emotions: dealing with other peoples negative emotions and reactions; communicating effectively; understanding your reactions; and managing your reactions.

Fourteen percent (14 per cent) of women were found to have two or more strengths in the four skill areas, compared to 11 per cent of men. Conversely, 27 per cent of male managers and supervisors were found to have two or more challenge areas within key skills to managing emotions, compared to 21 per cent of female managers and supervisors.

Younger managers and supervisors also had challenges, found the survey. Four in 10 (35 per cent) managers and supervisors aged 18 to 34 experienced challenges in two or more of the skill areas needed for managing emotions, compared to 23 per cent of middle-aged (35 to 54 years old) managers and supervisors and 16 per cent of senior managers (55 years and older).

"We know that the emotional intelligence of managers has an effect on the psychological health and safety of employees," said Mary Ann Baynton, program director of the centre, which offers an online module to help assess and improve emotional intelligence. "Two out of three respondents indicate they could do their jobs more effectively if they could better manage distressed workers."

Ninety-one per cent of respondents agreed they have the ability to improve how they react to emotionally distressed workers while 85 agreed it’s a good use of time “to focus on building skills that will help them better respond to emotionally distressed workers.”

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