Building the Emotional Intelligence of Groups

Building the Emotional Intelligence of Groups

80 HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW By now, most executives have accepted that emotional intelligence is as critical as IQ to an individual’s effectiveness. But much of the important work in organizations is done in teams. New research uncovers what emotional intelligence at the group level looks like-and how to achieve it Building the Emotioncil Intelligence of Groups W by Vanessa Urch Druskat and Steven B. Wolff HEN MANAGERS EIRST STARTED HEARING ABOUT the concept of emotional intelligence in the 1990s, scales fell from their eyes.

The basic message, that effectiveness in organizations is at least as much about EQ as IQ, resonated deeply; it was something that people knew in their guts but that had never before been so well articulated. Most important, the idea held the potential for positive change. Instead of being stuck with the hand they’d been dealt, people could take steps to enhance their emotional intelligence and make themselves more effective in their work and personal lives. Indeed, the concept of emotional intelligence had real impact.

The only problem is that so far emotional intelligence has been viewed only as an individual competency, when the reality is that most work in organizations is done by teams. And if managers have one pressing need today, it’s to find ways to make teams work better. MARCH 2001 81 Building the Emotional Intelligence of Groups It is with real excitement, therefore, that we share these findingsfromour research: individual emotional intelligence has a group analog, and it is just as critical to groups’ effectiveness.

Teams can develop greater emotional intelligence and, in so doing, boost their overall performance. Why Should Teams Build Their Emotional Intelligence? No one would dispute the importance of making teams work more effectively. But most research about how to do so has focused on identifying the task processes that distinguish the most successftil teams-that is, specifying the need for cooperation, participation, commitment to goals, and so forth. The assumption seems to be that, once identified, these processes can simply be imitated by other teams, with similar effect.

It’s not true. By analogy, think of it this way: a piano student can be taught to play Minuet in G, but he won’t become a modem-day Bach without knowing music theory and being able to play with heart. Similarly, the real source of a great team’s success lies in the fundamental conditions that allow effective task processes to emerge-and that cause members to engage in them wholeheartedly. Our research tells us that three conditions are essential to a group’s effectiveness: trust among members, a sense of group identity, and a sense of group efficacy.

When these conditions are absent, going through the motions of cooperating and participating is still possible. But the team will not be as effective as it could be, because members will choose to hold back rather than fully engage. To be most effective, the team needs to create emotionally intelligent norms -the attitudes and behaviors that eventually become habits-that support behaviors for building trust, group identity, and group efficacy. The outcome is complete engagement in tasks. {For more on how emotional intelligence infiuences these conditions, see the sidebar “A Model of Team Effectiveness. ) at more levels. To understand the differences, let’s first look at the concept of individual emotional intelligence as defined by Daniel Goleman. In his definitive book Emotional Intelligence, Goleman explains the chief characteristics of someone with high El; he or she is aware of emotions and able to regulate them-and this awareness and regulation are directed both inward, to one’s self, and outward, to others. “Personal competence,” in Goleman’s words, comes from being aware of and regulating one’s own emotions. Social competence”is awareness and regulation of others’ emotions. A group, however, must attend to yet another level of awareness and regulation. It must be mindful of the emotions of its members, its own group emotions or moods, and the emotions of other groups and individuals outside its boundaries. In this article, we’ll explore how emotional incompetence at any of these levels can cause dysfunction. We’ll also show how establishing specific group norms that create awareness and regulation of emotion at these three levels can lead to better outcomes.

First, we’ll focus on the individual level-how emotionally intelligent groups work with their individual members’ emotions. Next, we’ll focus on the group level. Andfinally,we’ll look at the cross-boimdary level. Working with Individuals’ Emotions /(•// Kasper, head ofher company’s customer service department, is naturally tapped tojoin a new cross-functional team focused on enhancing the customer experience: she has extensive experience in and a real passion for customer service. But her teammatesfind she brings little more than a bad attitude to the table.

At an early brainstorming session, Jill sits silent, arms crossed, rolling her eyes. Whenever the team starts to get energized about an idea, she launches into a detailed account of how a similar idea went nowhere in the past. The group is confused: this is the customer service star they’ve been hearing about? Little do they realize shefeels insulted by the very formation of the team. To her, it implies she hasn’t done her job well enough. Three Levels of Emotional Interaction Make no mistake: a team with emotionally intelligent members does not necessarily make for an emotionally intelligent group.

A team, like any social group, takes on its own character. So creating an upward, self-reinforcing spiral of trust, group identity, and group efficacy requires more than a few members who exhibit emotionally intelligent behavior. It requires a team atmosphere in which the norms build emotional capacity (the ability to respond constructively in emotionally uncomfortable situations) and influence emotions in constructive ways. Team emotional intelligence is more complicated than individual emotional intelligence because teams interact 82

When a member is not on the same emotional wavelength as the rest, a team needs to be emotionally intelligent vis-ci-vis that individual. In part, that simply means being aware of the problem. Having a norm that encourages interpersonal understanding might facilitate an awareness that Jill is acting out of defensiveness. And picking up on this defensiveness is necessary if the team Vanessa Urch Druskat is an assistant professor of organizational behavior at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Steven B. Wolff is an assistant professor of management at the School of Management at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW Building the Emotional Intelligence of Croups A Model of Team Effectiveness better decisions, more creative solutions, higher productivity study after study has shown that teams are more creative and productive when they can achieve high levels of participation, cooperation, and collaboration among members. But interactive behaviors (ike these aren’t easy to legislate.

Our work shows that tbree basic conditions need to be present before such behaviors can occur: mutual trust among members, a sense of group identity (a feeling among members that they belong to a unique and worthwhile group), and a sense of group efficacy (the beliefthat the team can perform well and that group members are more effective working together than apart). At the heart of these three conditions are emotions. Trust, a sense of identity, and a feeling of efficacy arise in environments where emotion is well handled, so groups stand to benefit by building their emotional intelligence.

Group emotional intelligence isn’t a question of dealing with a necessary evil-catching emotions as they bubble up and promptly suppressing them. Far from it. It’s about bringing emotions deliberately to the surface and understanding how they affect the team’s work. It’s also about behaving in ways that build relationships both inside and outside the team and that strengthen tbe team’s ability to face challenges. Emotional intelligence means exploring, embracing, and ultimately relying on emotion in work that is, at the end ofthe day, deeply human. articipation, cooperation, collaboration trust, identity, efficacy group emotional intelligence wants to make her imderstand its desire to amplify her good work, not negate it. Some teams seem to be able to do this naturally. At Hewlett-Packard, for instance, we learned of a team that was attempting to cross-train its members. The idea was that if each member could pinch-hit on everyone else’s job, the team could deploy efforts to whatever task required the most attention.

But one member seemed very uncomfortable with learning new skills and tasks; accustomed to being a top producer in his own job, he hated not knowing how to do a job perfectly. Luckily, his teammates recognized his discomfort, and rather than being annoyed, they redoubled their efforts to support him. This team benefited from a group norm it had established over time emphasizing interpersonal understanding. The norm had grown out of the group’s realization that working to accurately hear and understand one another’s feelings and concerns improved member morale and a willingness to cooperate.

Many teams build high emotional intelligence by taking pains to consider matters from an individual member’s perspective. Think of a situation where a team of four must reach a decision; three favor one direction and the fourth favors another. In the interest of expedience, many teams in this situation would move directly to a maMARCH 2001 jority vote. But a more emotionally intelligent group would pausefirstto hear out the objection. It would also ask if everyone were completely behind the decision, even if there appeared to be consensus.

Such groups would ask, “Are there any perspectives we haven’t heard yet or thought through completely? ” Perspective taking is a team behavior that teamwork experts discuss often – but not in terms of its emotional consequence. Many teams are trained to use perspectivetaking techniques to make decisions or solve problems (a common tool is affinity diagramming). But these techniques may or may not improve a group’s emotional intelligence.

The problem is that many of these techniques consciously attempt to remove emotion from the process by collecting and combining perspectives in a mechanical way. A more effective approach to perspective taking is to ensure that team members see one another making the effort to grapple with perspectives; that way, the team has a better chance of creating the kind of trust that leads to greater participation among members. An executive team at the Hay Group, a consulting firm, engages in the kind of deep perspective taking we’re describing.

The team has done role-playing exercises in which members adopt others’opinions and styles of interaction. It has also used a “storyboarding” technique, in 83 Building ttie Emotional Intelligence of Croups which each member creates a small poster representing his or her ideas. As team members will attest, these methods and others have helped the group build trust and increase participation. Regulating Individuals’Emotions Interpersonal understanding and perspective taking are two ways that groups can become more aware of their members’ perspectives and feelings.

But just as important as awareness is the ability to regulate those emotions-to have a positive impact on how they are expressed and even on how individual team members feel. We’re not talking about imposing groupthink or some other form of manipulation here-clearly, the goal must be to balance the team’s cohesion with members’ individuality. We’re simply acknowledging that people take their emotional cues from those around them. Something that seems upsetting initially can seem not so bad – o r ten times worse depending on whether one’s colleagues are inclined to smooth feathers or fan flames.

The most constructive way of regulating team members’emotions is hy establishing norms in the group for both confrontation and caring. in a meeting where one team member arrived angry because the time and place of the meeting was very inconvenient for him. When another member announced the sacrifice the man had made to be there, and thanked him, the man’s attitude turned around 180 degrees. In general, a caring orientation includes displaying positive regard, appreciation, and respect for group members through behaviors such as support, validation, and compassion.

Interpersonal understanding, perspective taking, confrontation, caring-these norms build trust and a sense of group identity among members. And all of them can be established in teams where they don’t arise naturally. You may ask, But is it really worth all the effort? Does it make sense to spend managerial time fostering new norms to accommodate a few prickly personalities? Of course it does. Teams are at the very foundation of an organization, and they won’t work effectively without mutual trust and a common commitment to goals. Working with Group Emotions

Chris couldn’t believe it, but he was requesting a reassignment The team he was on was doing good work, staying on budget, and hitting all its deadlines – though not always eleIt may seem illogical to suggest that an emotionally gantly. Its leader, Stan Evans, just got a promotion. So why intelligent group must engage in confrontation, but it’s was being on the team such a downer? At the last major stanot. Inevitably, a team member will indulge in behavior tus meeting, they should have been serving champagne -so that crosses the line, and the team must feel comfortable much had been achieved.

Instead, everyone was thoroughly calling the foul. In one manufacturing team we studied, dispirited over a setback they hadn’t foreseen, which turned a member told us about the day she selfishly decided to out later to be no big deal. It seemed no matter what hapextend her break. Before long, one of her teammates pened, the group griped. The team even saw Stan’s promostormed into the break room, saying, “What are you dotion in a negative light: “Oh, so I guess management wants ing in here? Get back out on the floor-your team needs to keep a closer eye on us” and “I hear Stan’s new boss you! The woman had overstepped tbe bounds, and doesn’t back this project. ” Chris she got called on it. There were had a friend on another team no hard feelings, because the woman knew the group valued Inevitably, a team member will who was happy to put in a good word for him. The work was inher contributions. indulge in behavior that crosses herently less interesting – but hey, Some teams also find that a at least they were having fun. little bumor helps when pointing out errant behavior. Teasing Some teams suffer because someone who is habitually late they aren’t aware of emotions comfortable calling the foul. or meetings, for instance, can at the group level. Chris’s team, make that person aware of how for instance, isn’t aware of all it has achieved, and it doesn’t acknowledge that it has fallen important timeliness is to the group. Done right, coninto a malaise. !n our study of effective teams, we’ve frontation can be seen in a positive light; it’s a way for found tbat having norms for group self-awareness-of the group to say, “We want you in-we need your conemotional states, strengths and weaknesses, modes of intribution. And it’s especially important when a team teraction, and task processes-is a critical part of group must work together on a long-term assignment. Without emotional intelligence tbat facilitates group efficacy. confrontation, disruptive behavior can fester and erode Teams gain it both through self-evaluation and by solicita sense of trust in a team. ing feedback from others. Establishing norms that reinforce caring behavior is often not very difficult and usually a matter of concenSelf-evaluation can take tbe form of a formal event trating on little things.

When an individual is upset, for or a constant activity. At Sberwin Williams, a group of example, it may make all the difference to have group managers was starting a new initiative that would require members acknowledge that person’s feelings. We saw this higher levels of teamwork. Group members hired a con- the line, and the team mustfeel 84 HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW Building the Emotional Intelligence of Croups sultant, but before the consultant arrived, they met to assess their strengths and weaknesses as a team.

They found that merely articulating the issues was an important step toward building their capabilities. A far less formal method of raising group emotional awareness is through the kind of activity we saw at the Veterans Health Administration’s Center for Leadership and Development. Managers there have developed a norm in which they are encouraged to speak up when they feel the group is not being productive. For example, if there’s a post-lunch lull and people on the team are low on energy, someone might say, “Don’t we look like a bunch of sad sacks? With attention called to it, the group makes an effort to refocus. Emotionally competent teams don’t wear blinders; they have the emotional capacity to face potentially difficult information and actively seek opinions on their task processes, progress, and performance from the outside. For some teams, feedback may come directly from customers. Others look to colleagues within the company, to suppliers, or to professional peers. A group of designers we studied routinely posts its work in progress on walls throughout the building, with invitations to comment and critique.

Similarly, many advertising agencies see annual industry competitions as a valuable source of feedback on their creative teams’ work. Croups are most creative when their members collaborate unreservedly. People stop holding back when there is mutual trust, rooted in emotionally intelligent interactions. Regulating Group Emotions Many teams make conscious efforts to build team spirit. Team-building outings, whether purely social or Outward Bound-style physical challenges, are popular methods for building this sense of collective enthusiasm.

What’s going on here is that teams and their leaders recognize they can improve a team’s overall attitude-that is, they are regulating group-level emotion. And while the focus of a team-building exercise is often not directly related to a group’s actual work, the benefits are highly relevant: teams come away with higher emotional capacity and thus a greater ability to respond to emotional challenges. The most effective teams we have studied go far beyond the occasional “ropes and rocks” off-site. They have established norms that strengthen their ability to respond MARCH 2001 ffectively to the kind of emotional challenges a group confronts on a daily basis. The norms they favor accomplish three main things: they create resources for working with emotions, foster an affirmative environment, and encourage proactive problem solving. Teams need resources that all members can draw on to deal with group emotions. One important resource is a common vocabulary. To use an example, a group member at the Veterans Health Administration picked up on another member’s bad mood and told him that he was just “cranky” today.

The “cranky” term stuck and became the group’s gentle way of letting someone know that their negativity was having a bad effect on the group. Other resources may include helpful ways to vent frustrations. One executive team leader we interviewed described his team’s practice of making time for a “wailing wall” – a few minutes of whining and moaning about some setback. Releasing and acknowledging those negative emotions, 85 Building the Emotional Intelligence of Croups the leader says, allows the group to refocus its attention on the parts of the situation it can control and channel its energy in a positive direction.

But sometimes, venting takes more than words. We’ve seen more than one intense workplace outfitted with toys – like soft projectile shooters-that have been used in games of cube warfare. Perhaps the most obvious way to build emotional capacity through regulating team-level emotion is simply to create an affirmative environment. Everyone values a team that, when faced with a challenge, responds with a can-do attitude. Again, it’s a question of having the right group norms-in this case, favoring optimism, and positive images and interpretations over negative ones.

This doesn’t always come naturally to a team, as one executive we interviewed at the Hay Group knows. When external conditions create a cycle of negativity among group members, he takes it upon himself to change the atmosphere of the group. He consciously resists the temptation to join the complaining and blaming and instead tries to reverse the cycle with a positive, constructive note. One of the most powerful norms we have seen for building a group’s ability to respond to emotionally challenging situations is an emphasis on proactive problem solving.

We saw a lot of this going on in a manufacturing team we observed at AMP Corporation. Much of what this team needed to hit its targets was out of its strict control. But rather than sit back and point fingers, the team worked hard to get what it needed from others, and in some cases, took matters into its own hands. In one instance, an alignment problem in a key machine was creating faulty products. The team studied the problem and approached the engineering group with its own suggested design for a part tbat might correct the problem.

The device worked, and the number of defective products decreased significantly. Building Norms for Three Levels of Group Emotional Intelligence Group emotional intelligence is about the small acts that make a big difference. It is not about a team member working all night to meet a deadline; it is about saying thank you for doir)g so. It is not about in-depth discussion of ideas; it is about asking a quiet member for his thoughts. It is not about harmony, lack of tension, and all members liking each other; it is about acknowledging when harmony is false, tension is unexpressed, and treating others witb respect.

The following sidebar outlines some of the small things tbat groups can do to establisb tbe norms that build group emotional intelligence. take them down a notch. And what was with that name, anyway? Some kind ofinsidejoke, Jim guessed. Too bad nobody else got it The last kind of emotional intelligence any high-performing team should have relates to cross-boundary relationships, just as individuals should be mindful of their own emotions and others’, groups should look both inward and outward emotionally.

In the case of the Bugs, This kind of problem solving is valuable for many reathe team is acting like a clique – creating close emotional sons. It obviously serves the company by removing one ties within but ignoring the feelings, needs, and conmore obstacle to profitability. But, to the point of our cerns of important individuals and teams in the broader work, it also shows a team in control of its own emotions. organization. It refused to feel powerless and was eager to take charge. Some teams have developed norms that are particularly helpful in making them aware of the broader organizational context.

One practice is to have various team members act as liaisons to important constituencies. Many Jim sighed. The “Bugs” team was at it agair. Didn’t they see teams are already made up of members drawn from different parts of an organization, so a cross-boundary perthat while they were high-fiving one another over their impressive productivity, the rest of the organization was paying spective comes naturally. Others need to work a little harder. One team we studied reahzed it would be imfor it? This time, in their self-managed wisdom, they’d deportant to understand the perspective of its labor union. ided to make a three months’supply of one component. No Consequently, a team member from HR went to some changeover meant no machine downtime and a record low lengths to discover the right channels for having a union cost per unit But now the group downstream was swamped with inventory it didn’t need and worried about shortages of member appointed to the group. A cross-boundary perspective is especially important in situations where a something else. Jim braced himself for his visit to the floor. eam’s work will have significant impact on others in The Bugs didn’t take criticism well; they seemed to think they were flawless and that everyone else was just trying to the organization – for example, where a team is asked to Working with Emotions Outside the Group 86 HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW Building the Emotional Intelligence of Groups Individual Interpersonal Understanding 1. Take time away from group tasks to get to know one another. 2. Have a “check in” at the beginning of the meeting – that is, ask how everyone is doing. 3. Assume that undesirable behavior takes place for a reason.

Find out what that reason is. Ask questions and listen. Avoid negative attributions. 4. Tell your teammates what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling. Perspective Taking 1. Ask whether everyone agrees with a decision. 2. Ask quiet members what they think. 3. Question decisions that come too quickly. 4. Appoint a devil’s advocate. Group Team Self-Evaluation 1. Schedule time to examine team effectiveness. 2. Create measurable task and process objectives and then measure them. 3. Acknowledge and discuss group moods. 4. Communicateyour sense of what is transpiring in the team. 5. Allow members to call a “process check. (For instance, a team member might say, “Process check: is this the most effective use of our time right now? “) Seeking Feedback 1. Askyour”customers”howyou are doing. 2. Post your work and invite comments. 3. Benchmark your processes. Cross-Boundary Organizational Understanding 1. Find out the concerns and needs of others in the organization. 2. Consider who can influence the team’s ability to accomplish its goals. 3. Discuss the culture and politics inthe organization. 4. Ask whether proposed team actions are congruent with the organization’s culture and politics. Norms That Create Awareness of Emotions

Norms That Help Regulate Emotions” Confrortting 1. Set ground rules and use them to point out errant behavior. 2. Call members on errant behavior. 3. Create playful devices for pointing out such behavior. These often emerge from the group spontaneously. Reinforce them. Caring 1. Support members: volunteer to help them if they need it, be flexible, and provide emotional support. 2. Validate members’ contributions. Let members know they are valued. 3. Protect members from attack. 4. Respect individuality and differences in perspectives. Listen. 3. Never be derogatory or demeaning. Creating Resources for Working with Emotion 1.

Make time to discuss difficult issues, and address the emotions that surround them. 2. Find creative, shorthand ways to acknowledge and express the emotion in the group. 3. Create fun ways to acknowledge and relieve stress and tension. 4. Express acceptance of members’ emotions. Creating an Affirmative Environment 1. Reinforce that the team can meet a challenge. Be optimistic. For example, say things like, “We can get through this” or”Nothing will stop us” 2. Focus on what you can control. 3. Remind members of the group’s important and positive mission. 4. Remind the group how it solved a similar problem before. 5.

Focus on problem solving, not blaming. Solving Problems Proactively 1. Anticipate problems and address them before they happen. 2. Take the initiative to understand and get what you need to be effective. 3. Do ityourself if others aren’t responding. Rely on yourself, not others. Building External Relationships 1. Create opportunities for networking and interaction. 2. Ask about the needs of other teams. 3. Provide support for other teams. 4. Invite others to team meetings if they might have a stake in what you are doing. MARCH 2001 87 Building the Emotional Intelligence of Groups design an intranet to serve everyone’s needs.

We’ve seen gaining the confidence of outsiders, adopting an ambasmany situations in which a team is so enamored of its so- sadorial role instead of an isolationist one. lution that it is caught completely by surprise when othA manufacturing team we saw at KoSa displayed very ers in the company don’t share its enthusiasm. high social skills in working with its maintenance team. It recognized that, when problems occurred in the plant, Some of the most emotionally intelligent teams we the maintenance team often had many activities on its have seen are so attuned to their broader organizational plate.

All things being equal, what would make the maincontext that it affects how they frame and communicate tenance team consider this particular manufacturing their own needs and accomplishments. A team at the group a high priority? Knowing a good relationship chemical-processing company KoSa, for example, felt it would be a factor, the manufacturing team worked hard needed a new piece of manufacturing equipment, but seto build good ties with the maintenance people.

At one nior management wasn’t so sure the purchase was a pripoint, for instance, the manufacturing team showed its ority. Aware that the decision makers were still on the appreciation by nominating the maintenance team for fence, the team decided to emphasize the employee safety “Team of the Quarter” recognition-and then doing all benefits of the new machine-just one aspect of its desirthe letter writing and behind-the-scenes praising that ability to them, but an issue of paramount importance to management.

At a plant safety meeting attended by high- would ultimately help the maintenance team win. In turn, the manufacturing team’s good relationship with level managers, they made the case that the equipment maintenance helped it become one of the highest prothey were seeking would greatly reduce the risk of injury ducers in the plant. to workers. A few weeks later they got it. Sometimes, a team must be particularly aware of the needs and feelings of another group witbiin the organizaA Model for Group Emotional tion.

We worked with an information technology comIntelligence pany where the hardware engineers worked separately from the software engineers to achieve the same goalWe’ve been discussing the need for teams to learn to faster processing and fewer crashes. Each could achieve channel emotion effectively at the three levels of human only so much independently. When finally a hardware interaction important to them: team to individual memteam leader went out of bis way to build relationships ber, team to itself, and team to outside entities.

Together, with the software people, the two teams began to coopthe norms we’ve been exploring help groups work with erate – and together, they achieved 20% to 40% higher per- emotions productively and intelligently. Often, groups formance than had been targeted. with emotionally intelligent members have norms like these in place, but it’s unlikely any group would unconThis kind of positive outcome can be facilitated by sciously come up with all the norms we have outhned. norms that encourage a group to recognize the feelIn other words, this is a model for group emotional intelings and needs of other groups.

We saw effective norms ligence that any work team for interteam awareness at a could benefit from by applying division of AMP, where each it deliberately. Nee seen many situations manufacturing team is responsible for a step in the manufacWhat would the ultimate in which a team is so enamored emotionally intelligent team turing process and they need one another to complete the look like? Closest to the ideal of its solution that it is caught product on time. Team leaders are some of the teams we’ve there meet in the morning to completely by surprise when seen at IDEO, the celebrated understand the needs, resources, industrial design firm.

IDEO’s and schedules of each team. If others in the company don’t creative teams are responsible one team is ahead and another for the look and feel of products share its enthusiasm. is behind, they reallocate relike Apple’s first mouse, the sources. Members of the faster Crest toothpaste tube, and the team help the team that’s behind and do so in a friendly Palm V personal digital assistant. Thefirmroutinely wins way that empathizes with their situation and builds the competitions for the form and function of its designs and relationship. even has a business that teaches creative problem-solving techniques to other companies.

Most of the examples we’ve been citing show teams that are not only aware of but also able to influence outThe nature of IDEO’s work calls for high group emosiders’ needs and perspectives. This ability to regulate tional intelligence. Under pressure of client deadlines and emotion at the cross-boundary level is a group’s version of budget estimates, the company must deliver innovative, the “social skills” so critical to individual emotional intel- aesthetic solutions that balance human needs with engiligence. It involves developing external relationships and neering realities. It’s a deep philosophical belief at IDEO 88

HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW Building ttie Emotional Intelligence of Croups that great design is best accomplished through the crerelationships with those individuals and groups. On disative friction of diverse teams and not the solitary pursuit play at IDEO is a curious model: a toy truck with plastic of brilliant individuals, so it’s imperative that the teams at pieces on springs that pop out of the bed of the truck IDEO click. In our study of those teams, we found group when a button is pressed. It turns out the model comnorms supporting emotional intelligence at all three levmemorates an incident that taught a variety of lessons. ls ofour model. The story centers on a design team that had been working for three weeks on a very complex plastic enclosure First, the teams at IDEO are very aware of individual for a product. Unfortunately, on team members’ emotions, and the Thursday before a Monday they are adept at regulating A team can have everything client deadline, when an engithem. For example, an IDEO deneer was taking it to be painted, signer became very frustrated going for it-the brightest and it slipped from his pickup bed because someone from marketand exploded on ing was insisting a logo be apmost qualified people, access to 70 mph.

The team the road at was willing plied to the designer’s product, to work through the weekend to which he felt would ruin it visuresources, a clear mission – but rebuild the part but couldn’t finally. At a meeting about the prodish it without the help of the still fail because it lacks group uct, the team’s project leader outside fabricator it had used picked up on the fact that someemotional intelligence. on the original. Because they thing was wrong. The designer had taken the time to build a was sitting off by himself, and things “didn’t look right. The project leader looked into the situation and then initiated a negotiation that led to a mutual solution. IDEO team members also confront one another when they break norms. This is common during brainstorming sessions, where the rule is that people must defer judgment and avoid shooting down ideas. If someone breaks that norm, the team comes down on him in a playful yet forceful way {imagine being pelted by foam toys). Or if someone is out of line, the norm is to stand up and call her on it immediately.

If a client is in the room, the confrontation is subtler- perhaps a kick under the chair. Teams at IDEO also demonstrate strengths in groupfocused emotional intelligence. To ensure they have a high level of self-awareness, teams constantly seek feedback from both inside and outside the organization. Most important, they work very closely with customers. If a design is not meeting customer expectations, the team finds out quickly and takes steps to modify it. Regulating group emotion at IDEO often means providing outlets for stress. This is a company that believes in playing and having fun.

Several hundred finger blasters (a toy that shoots soft projectiles) have been placed around the building for employees to pick up and start shooting when they’re frustrated. Indeed, the design firm’s culture welcomes the expression of emotions, so it’s not uncommon for someone – whether happy or angryto stand up and yell. IDEO has even created fun office projects that people can work on ifthey need a break. For example, they might have a project to design the company holiday card or to design the “tourist stop” displays seen by visitors.

Finally, IDEO teams also have norms to ensure they are aware of the needs and concerns of people outside their boundaries and that they use that awareness to develop tWARCH 2 0 0 1 good relationship with the fabricator, its people were willing to go above and beyond the call of duty. The lighthearted display was a way for teammates to show the engineer that all was forgiven-and a reminder to the rest of the organization of how a team in crisis can get by with a little help from its friends. Where Do Norms Come From? Not every company is as dependent on teams and their emotional intelligence as IDEO.

But now more than ever, we see companies depending on teams for decisions and tasks that, in another time, would have been the work of individuals. And unfortunately, we also see them discovering that a team can have everything going for it-the brightest and most qualified people, access to resources, a clear mission-but still fail because it lacks group emotional intelligence. Norms that build trust, group identity, and group efficacy are the key to making teams click. They allow an otherwise highly skilled and resourced team to fulfill its potential, and they can help a team faced with substantial challenges achieve surprising victories.

So how do norms as powerful as the ones we’ve described in this article come about? In our research, we saw them being introduced from any of five basic directions: by formal team leaders, by informal team leaders, by courageous followers, through training, or ft-om the larger organizational culture. (For more on how to establish the norms described in this article, see the sidebar”Building Norms for Three Levels of Group Emotional Intelligence. “) At the Hay Group, for example, it was the deliberate action of a team leader that helped one group see the importance of emotions to the group’s overall effectiveness.

Because this particular group was composed of managers 89 Building ttie Emotional Intelligence of Groups from many different cultures, its leader knew he couldn’t assume all the members possessed a high level of interpersonal understanding. To establish that norm, he introduced novelties like having a meeting without a tahle, using smaller groups, and conducting an inventory of team members’various learning styles. Interventions like these can probably be done only by a formal team leader. The ways informal leaders or other team members enhance emotional intelligence are typically more subtle, though often just as powerful.

Anyone might advance the cause, for example, by speaking up if the group appears to be ignoring an important perspective or feeling-or simply by doing his or her part to create an affirmative environment. Training courses can also go a long way toward increasing emotional awareness and showing people how to regulate emotions. We know of many companies that now focus on emotional issues in leadership development courses, negotiation and communication workshops, and employee-assistance programs like those for stress management.

These training programs can sensitize team members to the importance of establishing emotionally intelligent norms. Finally, perhaps more than anything, a team can be influenced by a broader organizational culture that recognizes and celebrates employee emotion. This is clearly the case at IDEO and, we believe, at many of the companies creating the greatest value in the new economy. Unfortu- nately, it’s the most difficult piece ofthe puzzle to put in place at companies that don’t already have it. For organizations with long histories of employees checking their emotions at the door, change will occur, if at all, one team at a time.

Becoming Intelligent About Emotion The research presented in this article arosefromone simple imperative: in an era of teamwork, it’s essential to figure out what makes teams work. Our research shows that, just like individuals, the most effective teams are emotionally intelligent ones-and that any team can attain emotional intelligence. In this article, we’ve attempted to lay out a model for positive change, containing the most important t3’pes of norms a group can create to enhance its emotional intelligence. Teams, like all groups, operate according to such norms.

By working to establish norms for emotional awareness and regulation at all levels of interaction, teams can build the solid foundation of trust, group identity, and group efficacy they need for true cooperation and collaboration-and high performance overall. 9 Reprint R0103E To order reprints, see the last page of Executive Summaries. To further explore the topic of this article, go to www. hbr. org/explore. (A^^l^ j-iywi 1 “I’m in a rut They throw the ball, I bring it back. They throw it again, I bring it back again. What’s the point of it ail? ” 90 HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW