Latest Blogpost - Hitting the ground running: Using your Emotional Intelligence to get under the cultural skin of a new organisation
If you’re working as an interim manager, you’ll know that the companies who engage you are expecting you to “hit the ground running” when you start work for them. The reasons businesses look for interims vary, but can include the need to work on urgent and specific projects, such as mergers, acquisitions or restructures. However, they can be as straightforward as maternity/ shared parental leave/ long-term sickness absence covers or because they’re not quite sure yet how they want to fill a vacancy.
But by using interims, they’re looking for something more than just a temp or an ordinary fixed term appointment. They're expecting something extra and this often includes delivery of quick results.
Your Technical Skills and Experience are not enough
You will have been engaged because of your technical skills and experience, but they may forget that it takes time to understand the culture of their organisation and the language of their in-company jargon. You may know that you’re only going to be there for a few months and may not be there long enough to get comfortable, but you need to get to grips with the culture and politics of the organisation.
Dealing with Resistance
It may take a little while, but it will soon become clear who had felt that they could do the job you have been brought in to do, or anyone else who feels upset that things have changed. You may not be the cause of that change, but to them, your presence represents the fact that things are not the same and that might generate some resistance – either covert or overt.
This means that one of your most important skills as an interim manager is to be able to listen and observe what happens and to reflect that listening back to the other employees so that they know you have understood them and their concerns. So developing your EQ – your emotional quotient or emotional intelligence - is one of the most important things you can do.
Using your Emotional Intelligence to Build Common Ground
Even if attributes like empathy don’t come naturally to you, remember that taking time out to listen and talk to staff will help you do your job more easily, so put time in your diary to engage with them.
If the employees begin to trust and respect you, they are more likely to share information and insights than those who are still wary and take the stance of only responding to specific questions when asked. This is often referred to as a “pull” style of management rather than a “push” style and is likely to have longer-lasting positive results. Building common ground with your temporary colleagues will help them want to help you and this in turn will help you deliver the project more effectively.
This article was originally written for, and published by the ICAEW in June 2016.
© Helen Astill, Cherington HR Ltd.
Posted on 19 Nov 2016