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The importance of Emotional Intelligence in Bureaucracies

The importance of Emotional Intelligence in Bureaucracies

(a) Leadership and teamwork improvement [The importance of Emotional Intelligence in Bureaucracies]

  • At the center of successful leadership is the “ability to influence a group toward the achievement of goals”. Since emotions are intrinsic to the human condition, they doubtlessly arise whenever a group of people works together.
  • Hence it is essential that leaders (e.g. public managers) know how to deal with circumstances that include emotions. For example, ensuring that co-workers feel appreciated and understood helps to enhance their devotion and enthusiasm for work, which positively affects their job performance.
  • Similarly, good leaders should recognize when negative emotions arise (e.g. dissatisfaction and frustration) and should be able to address them adequately so that they do not endanger job performance and the success of a project. The importance of Emotional Intelligence in Bureaucracies
  • Overall, improving emotional intelligence should be a constant process of reflecting and learning, which indicates that not only the selection of leaders with already good “people skills” (a popular synonym for high emotional intelligence) is favourable, but also the development and improvement of emotional skills over the course of time is essential.
  • For example, in their study “Managing Emotional Intelligence in U.S. Cities: A Study of Social Skills among Public Managers,” the authors Evan Berman and Jonathan West investigated the importance of managerial emotional intelligence in local governments and how already existing practices within their organizations influenced the development of their emotional intelligence skills.
  • Their findings implicate that there are three key concepts to directly further managerial emotional intelligence:
  • Feedbackmanagers who provide co-workers with in-depth responses about their social skills sharpen their own awareness of emotional intelligence, too;
  • Modellingexpecting managers to display socially appropriate manners in front of their co-workers also increases self-awareness;
  • Mentoringfinding a mentor, preferably from outside the organization, for reflection and discussion of complicated “people’s issues” is also a beneficial tool for increasing emotional intelligence.
  • Additional supportive measures are training, selection and promotion, and code of conduct (e.g. installing organizational social norms). The importance of Emotional Intelligence in Bureaucracies
  • Albeit the ways to improve emotional intelligence might certainly vary throughout different administrative agencies, it is evident that technical proficiency alone is insufficient in assessing managerial competencies; success or failure often depends on the softer [emotional intelligence] – related skills’ .
  • Even public agencies that are not commonly associated with emotionality in regard to their line of work have discovered the importance of emotional intelligence within leadership.

(b) Improvement of customer service [The importance of Emotional Intelligence in Bureaucracies]

  • A great deal of public-service jobs are characterized by interpersonal contact, which can be face to face and/or voice to voice.
  • In the ideal case the interaction between public servant and customer should produce a desired outcome for both sides:
  • from the customer’s point of view, his/her goal of the exchange has been fulfilled;
  • from the agency’s point of view, the customer was satisfactorily served, establishing the productivity and efficiency of the respective public-service agency. Thus to do their job well, employees must be able to manage interactions with their customers positively.
  • This work is described as emotional work and is often compared to the work of acting —“invoking and displaying emotions, just as actors do when playing roles”. However, toengage successfully in emotional labour adequate levels of emotional intelligence are anabsolute prerequisite.
  • Case workers, public health nurses, receptionists, counter clerks,public school teachers, etc. are required to sense emotions in others, while at the same time they need to manage their own feelings.
  • Moreover, they must use this knowledge wisely to coordinate their further actions to reach the intended goal with their client.
  • Each and every step of the interaction must display high levels of emotional intelligence on the part of the public servant. Otherwise customer satisfaction is likely to suffer and the perception of the government service is likely to be viewed as negative.
  • Thus emotional intelligence can be seen as the tool for successfully ‘managing emotional labour so that it benefits the organization’.
  • Consequently, measures that help employees at the customer-service level to better their emotional intelligence skills (e.g. through feedback, training, etc.) are certainly as important as at the leadership level.

Women are on average more inclined than men to instantly sense other person’s emotions, and women are most likely to be expected to engage in emotional labour in an organization. Still, this does not necessarily mean that women’s emotional intelligence is naturally higher than that of men. What it means is that a social construct exists that views certain behaviours, such as caring and nurturing, as inherent to women. Consequently, emotional labour that requires caritas is seen as ‘natural labour’ for women. However, engaging on a regular basis in emotional labour most likely enhances emotional intelligence since it is a skill that prospers on experience.

Studies have confirmed that female employees in public organizations are “expected and required to engage in emotional work to a greater deal than men”. At the same time, their input is commonly taken for granted, often overlooked and ;undercompensated, despite its crucial role for the organization. Investigating the link between gender, emotional labour and performance, it was found that organizations with more female public servants at the street level are characterized by superior organizational performance, including overall productivity, employee turnover, and customer satisfaction. However, women’s positive contribution to organizational performance is certainly not reflected in monetary compensation.

In regard to leadership the question if gender influences emotional intelligence takes on a somewhat different notion since at the top level of leadership the great majority of workers are male. Studies, investigating successful leaders in the private sector (e.g. banking executives, CEO’s of international companies) showed that “gender differences that are prominent in the general population are all but absent among the most successful (e.g. banking executives, CEO’s of international companies) showed that “gender differences that are prominent in the general population are all but absent among the most successful leaders”. Conveying these findings to the public sector makes certainly sense. Here too, almost two-thirds of the top-level workers are male, while most public workers at the lowest ranks are female. However, women who made it to the upper echelons of bureaucracy are still expected to provide emotional labour in addition to their primary work tasks – something that is not expected by men.

All in all emotional intelligence is commonly valued and appreciated, if it is associated with jobs perceived as masculine, such as management, and if it takes place in the higher ranks of hierarchy. Emotional intelligence that is required for jobs that include caritas goes often unnoticed since emotional labour is perceived as natural for women. It is only recognized and valued if it is performed by a man (perceived as something extraordinary, e.g. a warm and caring male nurse); and, at the same time, it is also recognized when women lack certain emotional intelligence skills but are still working in jobs requiring caritas (e.g. a cold and uncaring female nurse). Thus, “all emotional labour is not created equal,” which is also reflected in the disparate wages that men and women earn. Only if women participate in “men’s jobs” (e.g. policy makers, upper-level managers) they come close to earn the same as men; however, they are still expected to provide additional “free” emotional labour.

CRITIQUES OF EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE[The importance of Emotional Intelligence in Bureaucracies]

  • A critique of emotional intelligence is that it is not an exact science and therefore hard to measure. Commonly used self-reports and peer-evaluations are often characterized by severe limitations, such as bias, prejudice, and manipulation. The importance of Emotional Intelligence in Bureaucracies
  • But also the use of ability tests is not without flaws since they might not mirror precisely what people would do if they encounter the abstract emotional settings in real-life situations.
  • Consequently, if emotional intelligence will prevail as an important measurement of job qualification, future research, investigating how to enhance the assessment of emotional intelligence, is certainly necessary.
  • Critics also argue that the assessment and development of emotional intelligence skills is a time and cost intensive endeavour, wasting money that could be used otherwise.
  • Detailed job analyses and thorough performance appraisal criteria, emphasizing the emotional content of certain work tasks, and training centres, offering exercises such as role-play, simulations, and scenario writing, require extra effort and money without guarantee of success.
  • Moreover, the scenario of public servants engaging in role-plays while the economy is in recession is certainly a challenging task to sell to a public already critical of governmental expenses.
  • Finally, critics feel uncomfortable “assigning a numerical yardstick to a person’s character as well as his intellect,” fearing that this will invite misuse.
  • It does not make sense to take an average of emotional skills, as, for example, some people can deal with anger but not with fear, and others might be unable to enjoy pleasure; hence every emotion has to be seen in its own right.
  • Moreover, critics contend that emotional intelligence, as cognitive intelligence, is a morally neutral concept – both can be used to accomplish good or evil deeds.
  • Someone with a great understanding of his/her co­worker’s feelings could use it to inspire them or to take advantage of them. Thus, without a “moral compass” for guidance, emotional intelligence skills are essentially useless.

THE FUTURE OF EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE IN BUREAUCRACIES [The importance of Emotional Intelligence in Bureaucracies]

  • Despite certain shortcomings in assessing and developing emotional intelligence, it is a concept that is very likely to stay or become even more important in the future governmental workplace.
  • As Berman and West (2008) stated “expecting good people skills from all managers has been proven difficult, even though this is being increasingly emphasized”.
  • They argue that in times when fewer and fewer people cultivate close friendships, spending more and more time in front of the TV or computer, the existence of adequate emotional intelligence skills cannot be assumed.
  • Similarly, lack of emotional intelligence skills might be even more pronounced within the younger workforce to come. For example, Generation Y, for which the use of informational technology has become a way of life, often regards face-to-face communication as obsolete or undesirable.
  • However, e-mailing and texting cannot convey emotions in the same way as face-to-face interaction since tone of voice and body language cannot be conveyed.
  • This might lead to misinterpretations and misunderstandings, which in turn can hurt job performance and customer service relations. The importance of Emotional Intelligence in Bureaucracies
  • Since governmental processes very much depend on the approval of the public, and citizen satisfaction has become a desired goal of NPM, emotional intelligence skills should be seen as an essential tool to support this endeavour.
  • It is stated that “positive exchanges have become a benchmark for performance,” particularly in times when “understaffed public services must meet the same customer expectations as business establishments”.

CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS [The importance of Emotional Intelligence in Bureaucracies]

  • Emotional intelligence plays an important part in every aspect of people’s lives. In everyday life, having a high EQ may help us develop stable and trusting relationships, understand others better, and interpret actions of others more clearly.
  • In today’s world, the issue of emotional intelligence is widely emphasized. Researchers study its effects on employee productivity, commitment, leadership style, organizational success, and well-being in general.
  • The emotionally intelligent leader promotes qualities that are instrumental in guiding an organization to success.
  • Emotionally intelligent leaders foster self-regulation, self- awareness, motivation, empathy and social skills and effectively guide employees through the use of these skills. Leaders who display these qualities promote working environments in which employees feel comfortable voicing their opinions, thereby promoting an environment that is successful and stable.
  • As bureaucratic processes moved more and more away from the historical concepts of dehumanization and impersonality, the notion that emotional skills are essential to job performance and customer service has gained foothold in the public administration sector.
  • Based on the concepts of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management, emotional intelligence has become key to the internal organization of public agencies (e.g. leadership, co-worker collaboration) and for the external exchange with citizen customers (e.g. as a basis for relational work/emotional labour).
  • Despite some deficiencies (e.g. difficulties in assessment and costs) emotional intelligence skills will continue to be important for bureaucratic processes since social skills in general are expected to decline due to the increased dependency on technological forms of communication. The importance of Emotional Intelligence in Bureaucracies


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