6 Ways to Manage a Difficult Team Using Emotional Intelligence

June 13, 2019

One of the most challenging things about being a leader in business is managing other people.


Even though businesses are waking up to the fact that hiring for high emotional intelligence (EI) - that is, your ability to manage your emotions and be empathic - is essential in the modern workplace… that doesn’t always mean workplace teams are the most cohesive.


The challenge of managing multiple different, passionate personalities is one of the reasons why emotional intelligence training is so essential today.


If you’re a leader managing a team - big or small - then keep reading to learn six things you can do to manage a difficult team using your emotional intelligence.


1. Model the Behaviour You’d Like to See


The only way to win an argument is to avoid it, so make sure to be emotionally self-aware and notice when you start to get frustrated, angry, or annoyed with your team. Learning to manage these emotions will model compassion, which will make others feel valued and heard.


Employees who feel heard at work are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work, so taking the time to develop these skills is essential - not just to your ROI, but to your team’s overall well-being.


2. Help Team Members Separate Personality From Emotions


When we say “I’m angry” we’re rhetorically internalizing our feelings. When we do this, we hold onto them much more strongly than when we say, “I feel angry.” This simple shift in how we speak re-frames the experience and helps build emotional awareness during a conflict.


Encourage employees to say “I feel frustrated” rather than “I am frustrated” and “I felt talked-over” as opposed to “you talked over me” to de-escalate conflict in the moment.


3. Make Sure Your Team Feels Valued


Especially with a team of strong personalities, it’s important to give praise that is fair, balanced, and regular.


Fairness is essential because you can’t appear to be giving preference to one team member over another. Your goal should be “balance” because you can’t go too heavy; going overboard might sound cheesy.


Most importantly, it must be regular. Making team members feel valued isn’t a one-time job; it’s the result of a relationship you build over time.


4. Make a Routine of Fact-Based Feedback


Giving and receiving feedback is necessary to becoming a better employee and team member. Questions such as, “what do you think?” and “how are you doing?” are both great starting points to appreciative inquiry.  


If you’re giving negative feedback, keep it fact-based and impersonal. Make sure to be open to hearing feedback from your team, too. Asking questions like: “if you were in my position, what would you do differently?” help team members feel empowered.


5. Make Emotional Intelligence Training Available for All Employees


Workplaces can be fun and invigorating or stressful and chaotic, and much of that rests on the emotional quotient (EQ) of the people who work there. EQ is how emotional intelligence is measured, and while people range in their EQ to varying degrees, emotional skills can be learned and improved upon!


Consider investing in emotional intelligence training for your team. Not only will this experience help them grow together, but they will learn valuable life skills that will positively affect them in other areas of their lives.


6. Encourage Stress Management


As the boss, it’s your job to be aware of growing workloads, stressors, and deadlines that your team members are facing. When possible, step in and support them. Stay late when they stay late and order a pizza.


Engage with your team about how to balance the workload more effectively and work together to develop efficiencies that make everyone’s workload lighter.


Develop Your Leadership Skills


Understanding how to manage not only our own emotions, but the emotions of others as well, is a valuable tool for leading others and building positive relationships. Register for our on-demand Emotional Intelligence Certification now. Don’t forget to stay up-to-date with the latest leadership development news by subscribing to our newsletter.


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