To begin with, you have to know my definition of EI. One word: maturity. How does it reveal itself? One word: adversity. When a person can confront adversity, calmly and rationally, i.e., with maturity, they are exhibiting high EI. If not, it’s low EI and that is the example I want to share with you because I encountered it recently. High or even just decent EI is crucial because you can’t have your employees blowing things out of proportion, panicking every time something does not go the way they planned, or if a real disaster occurs. Having employees who are calm under pressure is vital to the success of a business.
Yesterday a man called me, asking for my advice. He is a regular reader of my weekly LinkedIn newsletter and a business owner. This is the story he told me:
A woman employee came to his office in tears. She was furious. She saw a male employee getting out of his car, exhaling cigarette smoke, and putting what she assumed to be breath mints in his mouth. She said that this man was harming the environment, harming her by smoking, and “is a murderer.”
That is someone who is woke and therefore has no EI. Ironically, the two employees had always worked well together. No complaints. Nothing inappropriate. But here she was, crying and trembling in the boss’s office, calling her colleague a murderer. His question: “Can I fire her?”
My response was to say that first, I am not an attorney so what I was going to say was not legal advice and he should speak with an employment attorney. Then I said, that in my opinion, wokeness is a mental health disorder and, as such, anyone who is woke is a “protected class,” and the “reasonable accommodation” that can be offered is psychiatric counseling. After all, even a few years ago the reaction to her actions would have been, “She’s nuts. She’s fired.” Today, that won’t wash.
I also suggested that he call a staff meeting to say, without mentioning her name or the incident, that he has recently become aware of the great mental health stress that some employees are feeling. He has therefore made arrangements for a “counselor,” (I told him saying “psychiatrist” may be problematic for some people), to come in once, twice, three times a week, whatever, to meet privately and confidentially – no records would be kept, or reports given to management – with any employee wishing to take advantage of the program. I told him to reiterate that mental health is as important as physical health and needs to be taken seriously. I also suggested making it clear that if someone were to suffer a physical injury which would prevent them from doing their job, with regret, they would have to go on Workman’s Comp. The same should be true for anyone suffering a mental collapse. Just as he has in place safety measures to prevent or minimize the chance of someone suffering a physical injury, now they are going to have the same for mental injuries. And then I reminded him that I am not an attorney and not to follow my advice without first speaking with one.
He called me the following morning. He said his lawyer approved my suggestion and he was going to implement it. Then I asked what I had forgotten to ask at the start of our initial conversation, “Why are you talking to me and not your HR director?” He said he didn’t have one. I told him to get one. He laughed and said that’s exactly what the lawyer told him to do and recommended someone to him who had been an employment attorney. I told him that they make the best HR directors and can save businesses a lot of money.
Of course, hiring mature employees eliminates the problem before it even begins. My recommendation is prejudiced.