The belief that a good Manager or a good Chief Executive is an emotional intelligent leader who builds up his/her practice on the principles of appreciation, recognition and mentoring, has been widely advocated and discussed nowadays. As a result, leading companies in various industries have incorporated a human-centered approach as a means to inspire their personnel.
Emotional intelligence of the team leader is considered to be the game changer when it comes to the success of the companies, especially in settings where teamwork plays an important role. Therefore, companies place particular emphasis on their human capital as being their most valuable asset.
Emotional intelligence impacts organisational performance, thus ‘Emotionally Intelligent Companies’ first Listen, then Empathise and finally Act. This is an essential flow of actions, particularly in a working context, where goals are clear and every individual plays an important role within an environment in which emotional intelligence is fostered.
The case study of KPMG in Cyprus fostering Emotional Intelligence
Indicatively, below are some examples of KPMG’s efforts to foster Emotional Intelligence within its environment:
From the very beginning of the pandemic outbreak, the Company’s response to protect the wellbeing of its employees has been unprecedented. Even before the first lockdown, it was clarified, in formal or informal ways, that the safety of the Company’s personnel has been of paramount importance.
Instantly, monitoring teams have been established to inform staff about the governmental decisions and protocols, to resolve any questions and provide any support requested from the staff. Simultaneously, several emails from the top Management Team were sent to all staff members vividly encouraging and informing them about the importance of adhering to the safety measures taken by the Company.
Additionally, the working from home practice, something that most of the companies, especially in the professional services sector, were not accustomed to before, became the next way of flexible working practice for the entire organisation. It is facilitated by the provision of all the necessary technological means so that all employees are enabled to continue to work efficiently, as they did before. Even if the first lockdown took place during the busiest period of the year, professionals from all levels were adapted very fast and demonstrated an incomparable determination towards meeting their deadlines and supporting their clients. The Company’s self-evaluation, after the first lockdown, was implemented by a questionnaire sent to all members of staff by the HR Department, the purpose being to measure the aftereffect of the actions undertaken during the pandemic and transfer suggestions for improvement anonymously to the Management Team.
The pandemic has created an overall disruption towards the entire business community and has affected most of industries and clients. Evidently, this period and the impending worldwide instability has had an impact on the Company’s financial results. The latter typically determines the remuneration of bonuses to all eligible staff. In light of these circumstances, the Company reassured its employees that, despite this year’s challenges, the bonus allocation would take place for those who have contributed positively through their performance in order for the Company to achieve its objectives. As a result, the remuneration of bonuses to all eligible staff is a reality.
Several professionals of different levels within the Company may have various academic or professional achievements, locally or internationally, such as success on exams, professional boards and committees. These achievements are always acknowledged and rewarded by the Company which formally notifies all employees about a persons’ accomplishment by e-mail. This conveys the message that the Company is always proud to celebrate the accomplishments of its employees and sets tangible recognition of one’s effort.
Assessment - Role of Managers
At KPMG in Cyprus, Managers are encouraged, through fair and constructive dialogue with their superiors, to evaluate the progress of their group. Regular conversations and constructive feedback throughout the year support fair and transparent employees’ assessment performance. The role of Managers is not passive and, given their clear view of team members’ performance and contribution, their opinion over the progression of staff of lower levels is highly taken into account. Similarly, talents are identified at a very early stage and their contribution is immediately reported, as example of merit.
Emotional intelligence influences an executive’s ability to present key corporate issues and ideas with integrity and authenticity. This is best achieved via good communication and people skills. Communication in KPMG is highly encouraged amongst all levels and it is exercised either formally or informally. The continuous sharing of information, the long working hours required to meet deadlines and the common effort to produce qualitative results create bonds and the conditions in which informal communication usually flourishes. Additionally, the Company sets a framework along certain occasions, such as group meetings or the yearly assessment, where conversations over issues, problems and other concerns between members of staff take place.
Other initiatives applied fostering an emotional intelligent environment include:
1. Counselling service: since the beginning of 2020, the Company, in an effort to support its employees’ physical and mental wellbeing, hired an occupational psychologist to deliver a range of workshops in relation to work and non-work-related matters. The sessions offered are either addressed to individuals (by appointment) or groups, where a common issue may be discussed, i.e. parenting. This counselling initiative has attracted positive comments from staff and turned out to be a very supportive initiative for employees’ emotional wellbeing, especially during the lockdown period and beyond.
2. Operation of a gym inside the Company’s premises. This has been another positive initiative towards a healthy and safe working environment. The facility is being provided for free to all employees (using a booking slot) and a professional fitness trainer is present at all times.
3. Other actions/events that usually take place during the year include: group dinners, Christmas night gala, feasts in Company’s premises, participation in running marathons or in other CSR events. All the aforesaid, have fostered team spirit and have built collegiality and friendly relationships amongst staff.
Linking Emotional Intelligence to Management Style
Undoubtedly, environments where emotional intelligence flourishes are not created overnight. They are firmly interrelated to effective management style. Individuals have dedicated valuable time to produce ideas by reflecting out of the box and taking decisions which might transform the way in which leadership is exercised.
Many of the aforementioned initiatives aim to increase organisational satisfaction, commitment and effectiveness. A fact of highly importance for KPMG is that these initiatives are communicated not only from the HR Department but from the higher levels of the hierarchy, to ensure that these are being adhered across the entire organisation. Different levels of management across the Company have the responsibility of implementing and monitoring all of the above.
Those who exercise the art of managing people effectively on a daily basis should highly value emotional intelligence and endorse the principle that effective leadership means to create an environment which supports communication, recognition and appreciation, as an effort to bring the best out of others.