13 April 2016

Initiating Emotional Intelligence at PTP

I was sitting at dinner one evening talking to a partner about PTP’s culture when she excitedly said to me “you are talking about emotional intelligence.”  Not knowing anything about emotional intelligence (commonly called “EI” or “EQ”), I asked her what she meant.  I had been explaining that PTP’s culture is built around the belief that we are here to achieve “corporate beauty” – a combination of brains and emotions coming together to put smiles on the faces of our clients.

She went on to describe EI and recommended that I read a book called “Working with Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman.  I did, was amazed by its content, and shortly after launched PTP’s EI Program.  I can say that it hit home!  The concept that emotional competencies drive business success was a near perfect match to our corporate beliefs.  That was 3 years ago.

PTP and its “Corporate Beauty” goal is built on a number of frameworks:

  • 1Stewardship – each employee is a “business of one” responsible for providing value to other PTPers, teams, and clients. Stewardship requires multiple Personal EI  competencies including self-confidence, innovation, achievement drive, and initiative.
  • Principle-based Management – making decisions based on core beliefs to achieve long term success. Trustworthiness and commitment are at the heart of always acting in our clients’ best interests.
  • Partnering – investing in our clients, partners, and employees to achieve their strategic goals; not “skimming the cream”. EI Social Skills like service orientation, building bonds and collaboration/co-operation are the key to partnering success.
  • Teal organizational structure – distributed power and authority, anti-hierarchy. PTP is in the early stages of implementing a Holacracy-based management system to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations.  Communication, listening openly and sending convincing messages, is key to the success of this innovative operating system.

Learning about EI, I realized that the linchpin in implementing all of our frameworks was not IQ but EIQ. That is, our employees must have personal competence (how they manage themselves) and social competence (how they handle relationships) to achieve Corporate Beauty.  Success was more about how passionate and emotionally intelligent we are than how smart we are.  Being smart is table stakes to be in the game.  Everyone we compete with is smart; being emotionally intelligent is the true competitive advantage.

Implementing EI

So in 2013, I formed a team to define PTP’s EI program.  We defined three levels of EI capability and set a goal of completing one level a year.

Level 1:  Self-Improvement which focused on improving the individual’s EI.  Each PTPer was instructed to read the book, complete a self-assessment evaluation, and develop their own self-improvement plan.  We then trained internal coaches to assist in the implementation of the individual’s plan.

Level 2:  Peer Group where PTPers formed a group, set ground rules, complete peer assessments (e.g., EI360), and met monthly.  This level also involved company-wide EI challenges, establishing individual and team EI trackers, and reporting of EI sightings.  Company-level statistics are kept to assess program effectiveness and make improvements.

Level 3:  Project Integration and Metrics.  PTP is an IT solutions firm with over 100 employees.  We are organized in client-facing projects.  So all programs we invest in can be measured by client success.  This level inserts EI activities and deliverables into our project plans.  It is at the heart of what the program is all about – achieving corporate beauty in the eyes of our clients.

PTP is currently at the early stages of implementing Level three.  We have defined the EI elements of our project methodology and are in the process of selecting pilot projects to test our approach.  Importantly, there are two key EI goals of the project integration – internal team operations and client interactions.  We are in the process of finalizing our measurement criteria which will likely be driven by a balanced score card approach.

Overcoming Challenges

Like any change program, challenges exist.  In particular, employees have historically been bombarded with personal improvement programs.  Most of these programs have failed, so there is a natural resistance to the latest one.  Some say: “I can ignore this one.  Management will eventually move on, and it will go away.” Many also believe that you can’t make material changes in a person’s emotional intelligence.  Our solution:  Have a long term view and seek to make incremental success.  By that I mean, get 25% involvement, then 35% involvement and so on.  At this point, it is clear to our staff that PTP is an EI-focused company.  Our staff realize that the program is not going away.

I think PTP’s success so far is based on our strong culture.  We had the EI underpinnings from Day 1 (2004) when we formed the company.  We were implementing EI without realizing it.  EI was an incremental step in strengthening our existing culture.  Also, because we are a service firm, PTP’s leaders saw the value of improving our emotional intelligence.  Just as the very meaningful dinner with a PTP partner introduced me to EI, I hope this blog post encourages you to learn more about the subject.

In the meantime, subscribe to our blog, so you don’t miss our next post on how to implement each of the three levels of EI competency at your organization. Or, check out Mike’s blog on how EI influences user experience design.

Authored bY

John Podlipnik

As PTP’s founder and chief executive, I’m a hands-on leader with an unwavering commitment to client satisfaction. I’ve built my career on the principle of “doing before leading” and believe in staying personally active with PTP’s clients and partners to always exceed their expectations.
With a proven track record of repeat business and referrals, I’ve built PTP into a leading provider of customer experience solutions.


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