Beyond the Hype Article in PM Network

Beyond the Hype Article in PM Network

In the April 2007 issue of PM Network, Sarah Fister Gale wrote about emotional intelligence and whether project managers can benefit from EQ.  The article is titled beyond the hype and you can download a PDF here:  Download PIR_PMNetBeyondtheHype.pdf

I was excited to be asked to contribute to the article.  My friend Galba Bright, author of the Tune Up Your EQ blog and workbook, also contributed to the article.  Galba also wrote a great follow-up to the article on his blog.

The article made a couple of interesting points including coming to the conclusion that emotional intelligence is important to project managers.  I believe that to be true of course based on my own experience.

Since the article came out, I have been in dialogue with Galba Bright on how to best help project managers improve their emotional intelligence.  I started the dialogue with these three questions:

  1. How do we (as practioners) determine where people are? (what is the current level of EQ)
  2. Based on where they are, how do we determine their EQ potential?
  3. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the tools (training, coaching, books)?

Galba has responded to the first of my 3 questions in his latest post.  Here is a snippet of that blog from Galba:

The best way

Ideally, organisations would do thorough emotional intelligence assessments of everyone attending a development programme beforehand. They would also assess them at an agreed period after the programme has been completed. The Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organisations recommends this approach.

A good way

Whilst I always keep the ideal in mind and promote the best practice, I also have a duty to meet my client where I find them. I usually discuss with the project sponsor…

Here are my comments in response:

Galba, thank you for your response and analysis. I think the approach you have outlined is very practical and timely for me since I am in the process of conducting workshops for individuals. I will comment here in the context of my preparations leading up to these workshops which start tomorrow.

I planned a short EQ assessment at the beginning of the workshop to help individuals get a sense of where they stood. I looked at several assessment instruments which would be suitable for my workshop. I actually wrote to Dr. Richard Boyatsis about the use of the Emotional Competence Inventory (ECI) individual assessment. Dr. Boyatzis discouraged me against using any type of individual assessment, calling them meaningless because of individuals bias. He stressed that he only uses 360 instruments or instruments that measure internal abilities like the MSCEIT.

I can appreciate where Dr. Boyatzis is coming from.  In my experience of dealing with individuals, frequently those that have low emotional self-awareness don’t even recognize that fact. It was that way for me; I was not able to see that my personal style and emotional deadness were contributing to relationship breakdowns. I attributed those relationship breakdowns to others more often than not – and I suspect that is what others with low emotional intelligence do as well.  I would call this the “self-awareness trap”; we cannot see our own shortcomings.

After my discussion with Dr. Boyatzis, I chose to use a simple assessment instrument from TalentSmart for my workshop participants. It is still an individual assessment – that could not be avoided for this workshop. The instrument is called the Emotional Intelligence Appraisal – ME Edition. I like this appraisal instrument because it is short and simple and it provides measures along the 4 quadrants consistent with Daniel Goleman’s EQ framework (Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management). It is also available online and that is helpful as the participants can take the assessment on their own prior to the workshop.

I will let my participants know that it isn’t necessarily going to provide them everything they need to know about their EQ. It does give them a starting point and indications of relative EQ strengths and weaknesses for the workshop.

During the course of the workshop, I hope to be able to observe and provide feedback for the individuals. The workshop is intended to be hands on and interactive so individuals will be expected to participate heavily. I will interject my comments and adjust the flow of the course based on where people are at.

Finally, we will end the workshop with a fishbowl exercise. This exercise allows the participants that have worked in teams together to provide feedback to each other on what they perceive as strengths and weaknesses. The last time I taught this workshop two years ago, this was one of the most memorable parts of the workshop.

Thanks again for responding to the first of three questions. I look forward to hearing from you on the other two questions.

Anthony Mersino

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