Team Building: Keys to Improving the Bottom Line

by David Miller

It’s not what tribal enterprises do that determines success, or failure. It’s how it is done. Improving performance is the main goal for all tribal governments and enterprises, especially casinos. Indian gaming faces challenges every day with finding new ways to grow revenue, dealing with competition, developing new gaming strategies, compliance, and hiring and retaining team members. All of these have one thing in common – it takes people to make them happen. So, how can an enterprise thrive, rather than just survive? By leveraging its greatest strength – team members.

The answer to improving the bottom line is simple, right? Do this through improving the customer experience, customer retention, strategic planning, and through management, leadership, and employee development. All of that sounds great, but it is easier said than done. Team members are a great asset and helping them break down barriers and improve relationships with customers and co-workers is vital to success. This means understanding ourselves and others to a higher degree in order to motivate, develop, coach, inspire and lead others to greater levels of success. Any organization can improve the bottom line by improving the front line and increasing emotional intelligence.

What is emotional intelligence (EQ)? It is similar to IQ in that IQ stands for intelligence quotient, whereas EQ stands for emotional intelligence quotient. EQ is a measure of one’s ability to monitor, identify, understand, and use emotional information. Essentially, it is the ability to recognize one’s own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings, identify them and act appropriately. EQ can be used to guide thinking and behavior and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s goals.

You might be thinking, “What!? We don’t have room for feelings in Indian gaming.” Having a high EQ isn’t for promoting warm and fuzzy feelings in the workplace. It is directly related to the bottom line. Pepsi found that executives with high EQs generated 10% more productivity, had 87% less turnover, brought $3.75million more value to the company, and increased ROI by 1,000%. L’Oréal found that salespeople with a high EQ sold $2.5M more than others. And when Sheraton decided to incorporate an EQ initiative, their market share grew by 24%. This means that a higher EQ with team members can accomplish exactly what is needed to improve the bottom line.

Aside from the bottom line, understanding one another is vital; the inability to do so is often the root cause of conflict, lack of engagement, and loss of talent. In his book Primal Leadership, Daniel Goleman cites research indicating that leaders whose styles had a positive emotional impact on employees generated measurably better financial results. Teams with higher engagement have lower turnover, above average productivity, higher customer loyalty and higher profitability. Basically, attitude and treatment of others has a substantial impact on the success of any organization. So, what can you do about it?

Start by looking in the mirror:

• Do a self-evaluation – lean into anything that is uncomfortable.

• Look at the work environment – is it stressful? Could it be improved?

• Take responsibility for actions – manage tendencies.

• Examine reactions to stressful situations – identify emotions in interactions.

• Before acting, imagine how the actions will affect others – observe reactions to others, and automatic responses some people trigger.

Listen – not just to hear, but to understand others.

10 Steps to Improving Emotional Intelligence

1. Utilize an eloquently assertive style of communicating. Assertive communication helps earn respect without coming across as too aggressive or too passive. Emotionally intelligent people know how to communicate opinions and needs in a direct way while still being respectful of others.

2. Respond instead of reacting to conflict. During conflict, emotional outbursts and feelings of anger are common. Stay calm during stressful situations. Don’t make impulsive decisions that can lead to even bigger problems. Understand that in times of conflict the goal is a resolution and make a conscious choice to focus on ensuring that actions and words are in alignment with that.

3. Listen to understand. In conversations, emotionally intelligent people listen for clarity instead of just waiting for a turn to speak. Make sure to understand what is being said before responding. Pay attention to the nonverbal details of a conversation. This prevents misunderstandings, allows the listener to respond properly and shows respect for the person they are speaking to. Make eye contact and use positive body language.

4. Be motivated. Emotionally intelligent people are self-motivated and have an attitude that motivates others. Set goals and be resilient in the face of challenges. Be contagious, in a positive way.

5. Practice ways to maintain a positive attitude. Don’t underestimate the power of attitude. A negative attitude easily infects others if a person allows it to. Emotionally intelligent people have an awareness of the moods of those around them. They know what they need to do to have an optimistic outlook.

6. Practice self-awareness. Emotionally intelligent people are self-aware and intuitive. Be aware of emotions and how they can affect others. Pick up on others’ emotions and body language and use that information to enhance communication skills.

7. Take feedback well. An important part of increasing emotional intelligence is to be able to take critique. Instead of getting offended or defensive, high EQ people take a few moments to understand where the feedback is coming from, how it is affecting performance and how it can constructively resolve any issues.

8. Empathize with others. Emotionally intelligent people know how to empathize. Understand that empathy is a trait that shows emotional strength, not weakness. Empathy helps to relate to others on a basic human level. It opens the door for mutual respect and understanding between people with differing opinions and situations.

9. Use leadership skills. Emotionally intelligent people have excellent leadership skills. Set high standards and set an example for others to follow. Take initiative and have great decision making and problem-solving skills. This allows for a higher and more productive level of performance in life and at work.

10. Be approachable. Emotionally intelligent people come off as approachable. Smile and give off a positive presence. Use appropriate social skills based on a relationship with whomever is around. Have great interpersonal skills and know how to communicate clearly, whether the communication is verbal or nonverbal.

While high EQ skills may come more easily to naturally empathetic people, anyone can develop them. Less empathetic people just have to practice being more self-aware and conscious of interactions with others. By utilizing these steps, a person can be well on the way to increasing emotional intelligence.

Every team member is a leader. High emotional intelligence continues to increase in importance among team members in an ever changing and evolving workplace. In fact, companies with employees that have high levels of emotional intelligence see major increases in total productivity, job satisfaction, customer relations and interpersonal skill. Simply put, emotional intelligence is not a trend. Many organizations, tribal enterprises and casinos have compiled statistical proof that employees with emotional intelligence undoubtedly affect the bottom line. A great leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. A great leader is the one that gets people to do the greatest things.

David Miller is an international customer service and leadership expert, member of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and President of Life Incorporated, a Brad Worthley International Affiliate. He can be reached by calling (479) 856-3328 or email [email protected].