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Impact of an Emotional Intelligence Coaching Intervention on Higher Education Employees’ Well-being and Organisational Performance in the United Kingdom

 

Introduction

In the UK higher education sector, many universities are currently undergoing major organisational change, with many academic, research and administrative staff experiencing negative emotions and stress due to in changes in job tenure, promotion prospects, job demands, work overload, and decision-making power. As the universities strive to remain competitive, improve teaching standards and attract talented staff and students, many staff have experienced reduced job control, increased paperwork, and feel confused or frustrated about their career, as restructuring decisions are made without their consultation.

People’s ability to deal with work and situational stress may have an impact on their productivity at work in regards to the academic staff (Schultz & Schultz, 2015). Increasing complexity of high learning institutions and job roles have exerted pressure on academic staffs (Harper, 2015). Thus, employees are required to be more emotionally intelligent to be able to overcome different adversities associated with growing organisational complexity and cope with the challenges at the workplace (Schultz & Schultz, 2015). Hence, this has led to the recent workplace wellbeing movement, a research focuses on ‘healthy high learning institution working environments’ (Harper, 2015), and development of Wellbeing Practitioner roles and qualifications (Cooper & Cartwright, 2013). As chronic stress, the economic recession and institutional restructuring have taken their role on the mental health of workers (Schultz & Schultz, 2015). Stress, anxiety, depression, burnout and staff turnover are now seen as key workplace issues, affecting organisational performance, which is influenced by workplace factors (Harper, 2015). Traditionally, it was believed that stress at work may be a result of personal issues in the family/relationships (Schultz & Schultz, 2015). Now, this issue is a major focus of organisational researchers. It is common for people at work to experience different types of work-related stress, which affects their productivity (Neale, Spencer-Arnell, & Wilson, 2011). A case in point involves work relationships, work overload such as setting unrealistic deadlines as well as expectations, and finally the aspects of the job among others whereby people find some tasks dull and repetitive in addition to dealing with challenging clients, and poor physical working conditions (Lewis et al., 2016).

Approaches to dealing with stress may influence the performance level of employees. Emotional intelligence – a person’s capability to identify as well as manage their different physical emotions, sociological, and emotional stress besides the emotions of others within a workplace (Neale, Spencer-Arnell, and Wilson, 2011) is one key competency that employees should enhance for effective stress management and continuous productivity. Recent studies show that workers with high Emotional Intelligence (EQ) are better as well as able to work and engage in teams, adjust to changes and are also flexible with high chances of success (Lewis et al., 2016). Hence, this mentioned quality tends to become increasingly significant as the workplace often continues to evolve, since they are capable of creating room for the new technologies as well as innovations (Harper, 2015).

The proposed research proposal aims to evaluate the impact of an emotional intelligence/competence coaching intervention on higher learning institutions employees’ well-being and performance in the context of higher education in the United Kingdom.

Statement of the Problem

Different approaches have been proposed at institutions to deal with the employees’ emotional stress (Gong & Choi, 2014). However, there is little evidence documented in regards to the relationship between emotional competence and employee performance. The problem which this research aims to investigate is the extent to which emotional competence influences the employee’s well-being and organisational performance in the workplace, and specifically assess the benefits of emotional competence training interventions.

Background Context

Emotional intelligence greatly influences everyone’s work life as well as career, so it is significant to comprehend exactly what it entails and why most workplace affirm its importance. Several research have established that within a workplace, it is normal to find different with distinct strengths, personalities as well as emotions that tend to greatly influence their productivity (Harper, 2015). As such, with the aspect of Emotional Intelligence in play most staff members within learning institutions often relate with identifying as well as managing their emotions and the emotions of others professionally. The recent growing interests in emotional intelligence has managed to raise the questions of whether it can be possible to improve the social as well as the emotional competence of workers in addition to boosting their productivity. Nonetheless, research in training as well as development, and behaviour changes instigate that it is possible, however the typical approaches incorporated in some of the training programs often appear to be flawed. Thus, social as well as emotional learning tends to be different from the cognitive in addition to technical learning, besides it requires distinct approaches to intervention or training and development. Additionally, other relevant reports have also presented some of their guidelines that most learning institutions can utilise in developing emotional intelligence based on some of the best knowledge in relation to promoting social as well as emotional learning (Gong & Choi, 2014). As such, there is also the need to improve the performance of academic staff that leads to the ideas of emotional coaching interventions (Schultz & Schultz, 2015). However, little research is published on the issue, there is a need to evaluate the impact of emotional competence instilled, on the performance and well-being.

Rationale for the Research

The rationale for this research is to gain an understanding of the level of success that emotional intelligence coaching has on improving higher education employees’ performance and well-being. The importance of the emotional competence is well documented (Cherniss, 2016).  Understanding its impact on performance will expand this body of knowledge and provide evidence for psychological education on the role of emotional competence in higher education (Harper, 2015).

Aims and Objectives

The aim of the study is to conduct and evaluate an emotional coaching intervention with the higher education fraternity within one local university.

The specific objectives are:

  1. To determine the significance of emotional intelligence in a workplace.
  2. To find out the influence of emotional intelligence on an individual’s productivity.
  • To identify some of the aspects that contribute to workplace emotional stress.
  1. To establish ways of improving higher education employee’s performance as well as well-being.

Significance of the Study

This study would be a significant contribution to the new field of Coaching Psychology, to determine its ability to improve higher education employee wellbeing and performance.    Preliminary baseline research would also help to diagnose the health of our higher education environment for staff, and identify important triggers and factors associated with reduced wellbeing and performance, that might benefit from an emotional coaching intervention (Stephens, 2013). The study would also provide a validation for the proposed coaching intervention, which if successful, could be developed into a professional higher-education coaching training programme.  

Literature Review

In the past fifteen years, academia and organisations have put more focus on emotional competence in an attempt to solve the problem of workplace stress and improve employees’ well-being (Grant, 2007). The critical understanding of the field continues to elicit gaps that always need to be addressed with more research as the world changes and workplaces become more complex (Hopkins, 2015). According to Neale, Spencer-Arnell, and Wilson (2011), emotional intelligence, also referred to as emotional competence, is the individual’s ability to control emotions and have the resilience to achieve a set goal. An individual with high emotional intelligence has control over his/her emotions and manages the negative feelings thus controlling emotions. Conversely, individuals with low emotional intelligence act according to their emotions, and without thinking about the consequences of their actions, often get undesired outcomes. McDonald, Jackson, Wilkes, and Vickers (2012) and Stephens (2013) note that emotional resilience is important for all professionals to be able to adapt to stressful working conditions, manage emotional demands, foster effective coping strategies, enhance professional growth, and improve wellbeing. In a study on the importance of emotional resilience for staff and students in the ‘helping’ professions, Grant (2013) concluded that organisations have a responsibility to protect the well-being of their employees after a study carried on 15 participants in regards to EC from six reputational organisations within the UK. This is attributed to the fact as well as gives significance to the aspect that even the highly emotionally resilient professionals may be unable to survive in the stressful work environment if they are not provided with adequate resources and sufficient job control and support. In this context, there is a need to build the necessary intervention strategies to enhance the emotional competence of employees (Grant, 2013).

Kulkarni, Janakiram, and Kumar (2009) concluded that managers and supervisors are not able to manage their emotional intelligence, which has a direct impact on their jobs. This was after they executed a study on five local universities with one hundred participants in relation to EC. Hence, the results from the relative study provide the vital understanding that there is no sufficient emotional intelligence among managers and supervisors. Nonetheless, this given aspect ranges from moderate to low and these skills need to be developed for higher employee productivity. The study also indicates that there is a relationship between the level of emotional intelligence and employee job performance, making it necessary to create the intervention to increase emotional competence (Kulkarni, Janakiram, & Kumar, 2009).

Grant (2007) found that the academic staff participants in a 13-week training course relative to individuals’ emotion intelligence-related aspects on productivity showed increased goal-focused coaching skills and emotional intelligence post-intervention. The study found that increasing the time of training course increased the magnitude of gains in goal-focused coaching skills and emotional intelligence. Accordingly, Grant and Kinman (2014) concluded that developing emotional resilience in practice is a key skill that would enhance well-being, job satisfaction, and retention in the helping professions. Individuals with higher emotional competence are anticipated to have longer and more fruitful career and are more productive. Hence, in a classroom setting, students with strong emotional intelligence seem more comfortable expressing themselves without the fear of being ridiculed or judged. They tend to be more interactive and are able to interact with students who are considered to be less social. Additionally, emotionally intelligent students appear to have a better understanding of their family members and peers, have more pro-social behaviours and are known to write better, incorporating their emotions in appropriate curriculum areas. Moreover, they are less anxious, hyperactive, and depressed (Grant, 2013).

Neale, Spencer-Arnell, and Wilson (2011) concluded that emotional intelligence in an organisation is the most important measure of a successful life within and outside the organisation, and it eventually leads to a successful organisation. Owing to the positive impacts of emotional intelligence on employees’ performance, Neale, Spencer-Arnell, and Wilson (2011), emphasised the importance of employee coaching to attain the requisite employee emotional intelligence. However, there is insufficient evaluation research to determine the effectiveness of coaching as an intervention method to attain the requisite emotional intelligence. The proposed research aims to address this gap. It is important to analyse how organisations that use emotional training retain their employees, job satisfaction relationship with emotional competence, and the impact of emotional competence and training on the well-being of employees.

Methodology

Design

The proposed study will employ a quantitative pre-post intervention evaluation design, by collecting baseline and post-intervention measures of emotional intelligence to determine the impact of emotional coaching on a person’s productivity (Creswell, 2014).  Baseline data will be collected using standardised questionnaires, and field study on the selected business companies or higher learning institutions. Additionally, information from institutions of higher education in relation to the academic staffs’ performance as well as achievements in the United Kingdom will be used to help understand the relationship between the variables. Regression analysis will be used to test the influence of the coaching intervention on the outcome variables.

The Coaching Intervention

The emotional intelligence coaching intervention will follow the schematic table below:

Preparation Coaching Transfer Evaluation
ü  Assessing the needs of the institution

ü  Assessing individual needs

ü  Aligning personal needs to organisational goals

ü  Providing feedback

ü  Encouraging participation

ü  Maximising learning options

ü  Establish a positive relationship between trainers and trainees

ü  Maximise the use of self-directed learning

ü  Set clear and SMART goals

ü  Break the goals to simple achievable training steps

ü  Allow trainees to practice and provide feedback

ü  Enhance insight

ü  Prepare learners for all possible outcomes

ü  Promote the use of the knowledge and skills gained at the training

ü  Establish the culture that supports emotional intelligence

Evaluate performance in comparison with other untrained students

 Source: Creswell, 2014

From the schematic table, the coaching intervention will include four steps that will embrace a three-year period. (1) The first preparation phase is expected to take 6 months, and will occur before the formal coaching, and would involve preparing the institution and participants for the upcoming change. (2) The second phase would be the actual coaching that will take place for nearly a year and would involve helping participants (academic staff) to change the perceptions they hold about themselves and the world. This would be the actual coaching phase, where important skills on how the participants should enhance their emotional intelligence in the best way and control their emotions to achieve their desired results would be taught. The training would use the Mayer and Salovey four-branch model of emotional intelligence (Harper, 2015). This coaching would cover managing emotions, understanding emotions, facilitating through, and perceiving emotions. (3) The third phase would aim at transferring and maintaining use of the obtained knowledge and skills within the institution to promote emotional intelligence. This would ensure that participants not only learn but become able to sustain what they learn beyond the training period for optimum results. This given stage will also take close to a year for maximum observations to be done. (4) The last phase would involve measuring the impacts of the coaching method for promoting emotional intelligence. This would involve a six month period on evaluating how the coaching participants respond to different stressful situations within the institution. Since Grant (2013) postulated that optimal performance is a predictor of emotional intelligence, the performance of the participants would be evaluated and graded against the performance of controls who did not attend the coaching programme.

Participants

The researcher will randomly choose one university from the various higher education institutions in the United Kingdom and conduct coaching on a random sample of administrative and academic/research staff. The researcher prefers random sampling as it helps to eliminate any systematic bias that may arise in the course of recruitment, thus helping to get the most accurate results (Creswell, 2014). Participants   The research envisions having a sample that has a 95% confidence level. Thus;

Sample Size = (0.5 x (1-0.8)) / ((0.05/1.169)Squared)
Sample Size = 0.1 / ((0.043644 Squared)
Sample Size = 0.1 / 0.00190476
Sample Size = 52.5 academic staff participants

Thus, the descriptive survey will target a sample of 52.2 academic staff participants (Creswell, 2014). Additionally, this given sample size will be considered as the control group sample, and recruitment for the intervention will entail voluntary participation of subjects.

Materials and Methods

To evaluate the impacts of coaching on enhancing students’ emotional intelligence, the year-end, a quality assessment sheet will be used to record the performances of all the academic staff on teaching, and classroom involvements among other classroom activities. Then, the performance of participants who were coached to enhance emotional intelligence will be evaluated against the performance of students that were not coached. The coaching method will be considered an effective method to enhance emotional intelligence if the performance of the academic staff in the program is statistically significantly different from the performance of participants from the control sample (Grant, 2013).

 Data Collection Procedure

Emotional intelligence is aimed at enhancing academic staffs’ performance in all classroom activities, including test performance, class activities, class involvement among others within the same learning institution. Thus, after the training, the researcher will collect and record the performance of the participants on the various classroom activities on performance sheets. These will then be used to evaluate the differences between the participants and the non-participants of the program within the same institution.

Ethical Considerations

Participants of the research will mostly entail the learning institution teaching staff, and as such permission will be requested as well as participant’s consent will be noted. Subsequently, the research is speculated to involve observations within the participants’ classes that is expected to be successful all through the research period. The findings of the research will be confidential and will only be used to enhance the creation of efficient curricular and not victimisation of the participants. Moreover, the research will be as brief and convenient as possible to minimise disruptions. Further, the data collected will be used for the research and will not be unduly manipulated or influenced to attain any pre-determined outcomes (Hopkins, 2014).

Planned Data Analysis

Data collected will be analysed using the quantitative method, where z-statistics will be used to evaluate whether the performance of the participants in the coaching program is significantly different from the performance of other students.

Reliability and Validity of the Study

According to Grant (2013), high emotional intelligence is translated to good performance. The research aims at coaching students to have higher emotional intelligence than their peers who will not undergo the training. The research expects that the students who will undergo the coaching program will attain high emotional intelligence, thus will have a significantly better performance than their peers who are not trained (Grant, 2007). The expected results align with the previous research that attests that emotional intelligence is a learning outcome, and it helps to enhance performance, making this research more reliable and valid.

Proposed Timetable for the Research

 Year

Activity

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Preparing
Coaching
Transfer
Evaluation

 

References

Cherniss, C. (2016). The Business Case for Emotional Intelligence. Rutgers University. Retrieved from http://www.businessballs.com/emotionalintelligencebusinesscase.pdf

Cooper, C. L., & Cartwright, S. (2013). Healthy Mind; Healthy Organization–A Proactive Approach to Occupational Stress. From Stress to Wellbeing, 2, 32.

Creswell, J. W. (2014). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approach. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications.

Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R., & McKee, A. (2013). Primal leadership: Unleashing the power of emotional intelligence. Harvard Business Press.

Gong, T., Yi, Y., & Choi, J. N. (2014). Helping employees deal with dysfunctional customers: the underlying employee perceived justice mechanism. Journal of Service Research, 17(1), 102-116.

Grant, A. (2007). Enhancing coaching skills and emotional intelligence through training. Industrial and Commercial Training, 39(5), 257-266.

Grant, L. (2013). The importance of emotional resilience for staff and students in ‘helping’ professions: Developing an emotional curriculum. The Higher Educational Academy health and social care. Accessed  on 23rd Dec 2016,  from https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/resources/detail/resources/detail/disciplines/hsc/Social-Work-and-Social-Policy/Emotion

Grant, L., & Kinman, G. (2014). Emotional resilience in the helping professions and how it can be enhanced.  Journal of Health and Social Care Education, 3(1), 23-34.

Harper, C. (2015). Organisations: Structures, processes and outcomes. Routledge.

Hopkins, D. (2014). A teacher’s guide to classroom research. Maidenhead: Open University Press

Kulkarni, P., Janakiram, B., & Kumar, D. (2009). Emotional intelligence and employee performance as an indicator for promotion, a study of the automobile industry in the city of Belgaum, Karnataka, India. International Journal of Business and Management, 4(4).

McDonald, G., Jackson, D., Wilkes, J., & Vickers, M. (2012). A work-based educational intervention to support the development of personal resilience in nurses and midwives. Nurse Education, 32, 378-384.

Neale, S., Spencer-Arnell, L., & Wilson, L. (2011). Emotional intelligence coaching: Improving performance for leaders, coaches, and the individual. London: Kogan Page

Schultz, D., & Schultz, S. E. (2015). Psychology and Work Today 10E. Routledge.

Stephens, T. (2013). Nursing student resilience: A concept clarification. Nursing Forum, 48(2), 125-133.


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