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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

05 Apr '13

Supervising people with low EQ

Posted by T.J. Addington in emotional intelligence (EQ), supervisors
Healthy EQ is one of the most important factors in healthy staff, teams and interactions with others in a ministry setting (or otherwise). What does one do when a staff member has poor EQ which inevitably makes supervision more difficult and other relationships problematic?

First, admit the issue exists and needs to be resolved. This may seem  like common sense but the reality is that in the name of Christian "nice" and "grace" we often overlook real issues that have real consequences to people around those whose EQ is problematic. Don't ignore it! It does them no favors, nor those who are impacted by the EQ issues.

Second, have the courage to sit down with offenders and be absolutely honest with them as to how their behaviors are negatively impacting others. This requires a supervisor to be completely candid and honest (nuances are not a specialty of those with EQ issues) and  be clear about how they are impacting others. To be sure they are hearing you, ask them to reflect back to you what they are hearing. Don't sugar coat the issues: they are real and they are impacting others around them.

Third, be clear as to what is acceptable in your organization and what is not. Some behaviors are not acceptable, allowed, or OK because of their negative impact. They need to know this. Provide coaching to them on alternative ways of dealing with situations where they are likely to get themselves into trouble. What they need to hear is your resolve that the issues need to be addressed.

Fourth, if necessary, get a low EQ staff member professional help - coaching or psychological help. In my experience, about half of those who have serious issues can be helped and the other half cannot be because of their own emotional defenses. If necessary, place them on a documented improvement plan to force the issue. 

Fifth, if you cannot help them and if their behaviors are negatively impacting others, either find a role where their presence is not as problematic because they are isolated or be willing to help transition them out of the organization. Remember that it is not just you as a supervisor that pays the price of their issues but those around them who are impacted. The leader and the organization actually lose points with staff when they don't deal with those staff members who negatively impact others.

The bottom line is that you cannot ignore EQ issues.