HR Management & Compliance

How Emotional Intelligence Facilitates Change Management

Change management is a notoriously difficult endeavor in virtually any organization; and the larger and more complex an organization is, the harder it typically is to implement. But emotional intelligence may offer help.

First of all, employees are people—yes, this includes management—and people are generally averse to change. It’s much easier to keep doing what we’ve always done. But it’s not just a matter of effort. Change can also be unnerving causing great anxiety about the unknown. “What if the changes my company is pursuing render my position obsolete?” “What if my role loses prestige?” “What if I end up with more work and the same or even less compensation?”

The Role of EQ in Change Management

In an article for Association for Talent Development (ATD), Marjorie Derven argues that emotional intelligence (EQ) may be a key factor in successful change management precisely because of this psychological element. “EQ is arguably more important than ever, as emotions are on high alert when experiencing change and stress,” says Derven. “Massive changes are occurring both in the workplace and in global macroeconomic trends” “Such changes trigger strong emotions, which may promote tunnel vision, narrowing our productive choices.”
So, what exactly is EQ? According to Psychology Today, “Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It is generally said to include three skills: emotional awareness; the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes regulating your own emotions and cheering up or calming down other people.”

The Pathway to Change

Now, how does EQ translate into effective change management? Again, Derven: “William Bridges, the pre-eminent authority on change and transitions, suggested that change involves multiple stages. A dip in productivity is expected as people cope with confusion, frustration and denial, before they can successfully become engaged around new beginnings.”
So, if this is the case, a strong EQ will not only help employees deal with those personal emotions of confusion and frustration, but the emotional awareness can be key for employees and managers alike to help the rest of the organization come to grips with the change they often fear.