At GitLab, we place a high level of importance on interpersonal skills for workplace effectiveness. Employee interpersonal skills have an impact on productivity, morale, engagement, performance, and help us live up to our values. Whether you are a People Manager or an Individual Contributor, being skilled in "emotional intelligence" (also referred to as EQ) is a key attribute to interpersonal effectiveness.
One of the most important factors in people's decisions to stay or leave a job is the quality of the relationship they have with their immediate boss and their coworkers. There are practical ways to learn and apply interpersonal skills in a remote environment. In this section of the handbook we are going to review the key characteristics of EQ and how you can improve your interpersonal skills professionally and personally. You'll learn how to work more effectively with others.
EQ is defined as the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, as well as recognize and influence the emotions of those around you, according to Harvard Business review. At GitLab, we operate in an all-remote environment where team members communicate virtually across the globe. By fostering EQ, we can establish a level of connection in an all-remote environment.
Better EQ provides better relations with remote teams. EQ plays an important role in helping maintain order between teams that consist of diverse cultures and backgrounds. At GitLab, we rely on low-context communications, Slack channels, email, and video calls to get our message across. There are less opportunities to practice our EQ.
Considering that these communication channels do not always express our true feelings, developing our EQ will be a tool for us to pick up on emotional cues and help us read between the lines to better understand the message.
EQ is a major factor in developing and maintaining cultural awareness. By fostering emotional intelligence, you are able to promote understanding, respect, and good relationships across all teams, regardless of their locations.
It is a tool that is helping GitLab build an inclusive environment for everyone. By understanding that others might have different responses and customs based on their upbringing, you can develop social and emotional intelligence.
There are five main components of EQ:
The components of EQ were developed by psychologist and writer Daniel Goldman and his colleages. They documented how people with high EQ outperform others in terms of success as managers and executives, yearly sales, and lower turnover rates. Furthermore, they have shown the increasing importance that EQ plays as professionals progress in their careers and reach higher levels of management.
Pure technical skills and intellectual ability are prerequisites for top positions, but they do not differentiate top performers from the rest as well as interpersonal abilities do.
Control your self-expression and perceptions. At GitLab, we rely on written communication and virtual calls as opposed to working in an office where we can rely on in-person interactions. As remote workers, we not only have to collaborate on projects but we are also responsible for building relationships, trust, and rapport with other colleagues through a screen. To build trust with a team, we need to understand how we express emotions to others through various communication methods.
Understand how your actions can impact others. At GitLab, our default form of communication is asynchronous through text. Written communication among remote teams can lead to misinterpretations. Be aware of what actions you need to take in delivering a message. Put yourself in the reader's shoes when crafting a message through text. Empathize with them and view the message from multiple audiences.
Self-awareness (know yourself). Understanding yourself means being aware of your own emotions, strengths and weaknesses, your values, and what motivates you. There are strategies we will detail below on gaining a better understanding of your own EQ and how it impacts others, but improving your interactions with others begins with self-awareness.
Know your stressors (self-regulation). Managing your emotion in stressful situations requires an understanding of how you can adapt to changing situations. Identify what stresses you out and take proactive steps to mitigate them. Keeping your cool and excepting the fact that you can't control everything. An emotionally intelligent person thinks how their emotional expressions affect others.
Strengthen your social skills. Team members with strong social skills are able to communicate their thoughts and ideas effectively in a remote seetting. At GitLab, we are intentional about using informal communication to strengthen social relationships. Set up a coffee chat or join a team social call to get started. Strengthen your own social skills by actively listening and providing feedback during virtual discussions.
Build your motivation. A key component of EQ is having intrinsic motivation to achieve goals. At GitLab, every team member is a manager of one. Being self-motivated (by adopting a self-service and self-learning mentality) should be paramount in defining what you can accomplish in a remote setting. Focus on the aspects of the job you really enjoy and use those to drive your personal and team success forward.
In order to develop your EQ, you need to understand your current baseline of how developed the skill is. Take one or more of the many free EQ assessments below to gain a better understanding of where you stand. Share the results with your team. If you are a manager, encourage your team to take one of the assessments. Use the results to tailor discussions and interactions with them. The more you know about your team personally and professionally, the more you can strengthen your EQ.