The art of emotional intelligence and why it's key to being a good leader
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The art of emotional intelligence

When we enter a building and approach a reception desk, we all have certain expectations; we expect to be greeted with a smile, helped by someone with a friendly manner, who is professional, efficient, capable and personable. Front of House and reception services are designed around creating a great customer experience for staff and visitors, but what about the people who deliver this service day in and day out? How hard is it to always be outwardly positive if you don’t feel that way on the inside? How hard is it to smile when you feel the opposite? And as a customer, how noticeable and memorable is it when you aren’t greeted in a warm and friendly manner…

Most office workers can hide behind a computer when they are having a bad day, they can take themselves off to a private space to clear their minds and work uninterrupted. When your role is to be the face of an organisation, the first point of contact at all times and the ‘go to’ person for anyone visiting the building, there is nowhere to hide. As Front of House, you are always on show and your interactions whether positive or negative are always watched. So how do we arm our staff to deal with the stresses that come from being the first in the firing line, for dealing with conflict in a calm manner when it’s played out in public, or even just to keep smiling and deliver a five star service when they are having a bad day or struggling with issues outside of work?

As employers it’s our responsibility to educate Front of House staff to understand and manage their emotions and stresses both in and out of work, enabling them to process any negativity, and present a positive demeanor on reception whilst keeping a cool head. We call this Emotional Intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence refers to someone’s ability to perceive, understand and manage their own feelings and emotions and how they affect others. It is about having empathy – an essential trait for preventing and resolving conflicts at work. It is also about understanding and being able to see the impacts of both verbal and non-verbal communication. Being aware of how others around us are feeling and not just ourselves is a skill, and it’s not just about what you say, but how you say it. From the words used, to body language and facial expressions, Self-regulation provides us with the ability to control impulses, reactions, and moods, and to think before acting. Self-motivation keeps people driven both personally and professionally, whilst social skills and the ability to manage relationships are vital, helping us to build a rapport with clients and colleagues. Building networks and interacting with people on different levels from the courier to the contractor or the CEO is vital.

On a practical level, as an employer, whilst you can’t shield Front of House staff from challenging interactions, from the loud customer who draws attention to themselves, or to the courier who is late, double parked and desperate not to miss their own deadlines, it is possible to put processes in place to support them along the way.

At Anabas, we focus on excellent basics, arming our staff with the right processes and tools, ensuring they have access to the right information, resources, and relevant training. Issues often arise when there is a lack of process, unclear communication, and no set standards. Often, these factors can all add to stress and affect the Emotional Intelligence of reception staff, especially when they’re the first port of call for everything from blocked toilets to broken lifts, and everything in between.

We hold weekly staff meetings that provide a great opportunity for people to share experiences from the week that has passed and to plan for the week ahead. All conflicts and difficult interactions are used as a learning experience when shared amongst my team. We talk about what happened and how it played out. What went right and what went wrong and how we can improve. Sharing highs and lows, we celebrate and commiserate but always encourage discussion and find solutions together, offering support and encouraging team members to look out for one another too.

As a Front of House Manager, it’s important for me to know what motivates my team and build good working relationships with each team member. I take time to find out what my staff enjoy about their job, what they do well, and motivate them by giving them projects which play to their strengths to make them feel valued and happy at work.

We also encourage a work-life balance – showing interest in all our staff, we encourage social lives and interaction and the sharing of experiences. This helps to nurture a positive working environment. Having daily positive interaction with each individual member of my team helps to encourage a good mood and to set a tone if a mood needs lifting.

Understanding the importance of Emotional Intelligence can also reduce absenteeism by recognising when staff are under stress and making them feel supported and valued.

With a better understanding of our emotions, we can communicate our feelings in a more positive manner. We can also understand and relate to our colleagues and clients more, which ultimately will lead to stronger working relationships and help to develop emotionally intelligent teams.

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