The last year has been hard on everyone, there is no doubt about that. How you managed the hardship has a great deal to do with your belief in your own capabilities to execute the courses of action required to manage the situation we have found ourselves in.
In this article, I will show you how your self-efficacy and emotional intelligence, especially in the last 12 months, did more for your company’s culture than your HR policies ever will.
Because construction is an industry driven by deliverables, schedules and budgets, company culture is often sidelined. But construction is also relationship-heavy.
Most of the effectiveness and efficiency of teams comes from their belief that they have an impact on project outcomes. Individuals believe that their specific skills are both needed and wanted on a particular project, and because of their individual skill set and talent, they are making an impact that is both needed and desired.
This is self-efficacy in action.
According to psychologist Albert Bandura, self-efficacy is “the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations.” (Bandura is the David Starr Jordan professor emeritus of social science in psychology at Stanford University.)
This sounds like the central work of project management to me. But unlike project management, self-efficacy mainly deals with the self. It takes emotional intelligence and an understanding of multiple intelligences to impact a team.
Let’s start at the foundation: your belief that you have innate ability to drive and manage change, no matter what barriers are thrown up in front of you.
In 1977, Bandura published “Self-Efficacy: Toward a Unifying Theory of Behavioral Change” in Psychological Review and introduced his concept of self-efficacy. The article also became an instant classic in psychology.
In his article, Bandura hypothesized that expectations of personal efficacy determine whether an individual will initiate coping behavior, how much effort they will expend, and how long the behaviour will be sustained in the face of obstacles and aversive experiences.
A few years later, in 1983, Howard Gardener released his book, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, popularizing the idea of multiple intelligences.
Previously, researchers had studied why a high IQ does not necessarily correlate to success. In the 1980s, studies focused on the ability to process and manage emotional information, and how it relates to “success” (generally monetary, relational or status).
In 1990, psychologists John Mayer and Peter Salovey theorized that a unitary intelligence underlay that skill set, coining the term “emotional intelligence,” which broke down into four areas:
- – Identifying emotions on a nonverbal level
- – Using emotions to guide cognitive thinking
- – Understanding the information emotions convey and the actions emotions generate
- – Regulating one’s own emotions, for personal benefit and for the common good
Finally, in 1995, Daniel Goleman, then a science reporter for The New York Times, took the concept of emotional intelligence one step further in his book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.
In it, Goleman builds on Gardener’s work, as well as Mayer’s and Salovey’s, stating that existing definitions of intelligence needed to be reworked. IQ is still important, he argues, but intellect alone is not enough to identify one’s own emotions or the emotional state of others.
This special kind of intelligence — to process emotional information and utilize it effectively — facilitates good personal decision-making, resolves conflicts and helps motivates a person towards self-efficacy. It also enables motivating others towards a greater purpose, which is an integral part of construction.
The areas of emotional intelligences, as explained by Goleman in this article for Harvard Business Review, are as follows:
Before you can master emotional intelligence, the first step is understanding your own feelings. While nearly everyone can determine the difference between feeling happy and sad, knowing how emotions like jealousy and envy, and shame and embarrassment differ is fundamental to properly dealing with them.
If you find you are having a hard time adapting to changes life throws at you, you may have some self-awareness skills to develop.
As this year unfolded, we all found ourselves grappling with wave after wave of changes. If, during those incredibly stressful moments, you were able to identify that you were stressed, the emotion/feeling that sparked the stress and where that came from, then you are self-aware.
It’s the ability to drill down past the feelings, past the labeling and into the source — often at a subconscious level — to challenge your own reaction to a trigger or stimuli.
Change is inevitable; in both construction and business this is especially true. People who resist change often experience unhealthy levels of stress and anxiety that can lead to poor physical and mental health, as well as poor decision-making.
In my own attempts to manage this past year, I often referred to one of my favorite quotes when my ability to stay grounded and aware was challenged:
Cultivating the ability to see your strengths and develop them, as well as confronting your weaknesses and working through past missteps, are hallmarks of self-management.
In dealing with the ramifications of my choices, I take a page from the book Extreme Ownership, written by former Navy SEALs Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. Once you accept ownership of your actions, you suddenly have the ability to learn from past mistakes and cultivate lessons, to say nothing of ending a cycle that does not serve you.
Being aware of how you impact situations is very different from managing your own behavior towards a particular outcome. It is both harder and more gratifying than simply being aware.
A large part of being self-aware is knowing how your strengths and weaknesses are viewed from the outside, as well as the ability to understand and respond to the needs of others.
While self-awareness involves looking inward to learn about yourself and understand yourself, social awareness is looking outward to learn about and appreciate others. Social awareness focuses on recognizing and understanding others’ feelings.
In building your awareness of your own emotions and those of others, you will find you are able to manage interactions more successfully.
Relationship management centers around your interpersonal communication skills and your ability to get the best out of others; to inspire and influence them; to communicate and build bonds with them; and your ability to help them change, grow, develop, and resolve conflict.
These four aspects of emotional intelligence seem straightforward and seemingly build on each other. It seems pretty clear that self-awareness drives self-management. Without self-awareness, you can’t begin to manage yourself because you aren’t aware of how you are affecting your environment and others.
If you aren’t able to manage yourself, you likely have limited social awareness, and are not able to build and manage relationships accordingly. What I have seen, though, is that when these areas are all marginally developed, you only gain access to rudimentary skills. The purpose of this article is to create an awareness around emotional intelligence, so you can start cultivating a greater depth of impact within your teams.
The goal of managing relationships isn’t to control those around you. The goal is to discover what motivates and drives your team, and to ultimately cultivate self-efficacy for each member of the team. When your team feels they are understood, heard and can create an impact, productivity sky-rockets.
Goleman, in his book, never pulled in Bandura’s concept of self-efficacy, which I found strange. I find them intrinsically linked.
As an owner, your ability to understand yourself, to be able to identify and catalog your own challenges and stress, enables you to manage yourself more effectively. When you are authentic and show your employees that you are self-aware and can manage yourself, your employees will know you are not only trustworthy, but also someone to emulate.
This opens the door wide to better relationship-management and changes the entire culture of your organization, from a two-dimensional transaction (time for money) to a more rewarding and sustainable experience that becomes healthier and more beneficial for everyone involved, especially the company.
But it starts with you truly taking ownership over your actions, decisions and self-efficacy.