Influence of emotional intelligence on employees' motivation and job satisfaction

Author: Iloka Benneth Chiemelie
Published: 1/1/2014

Previous research suggests that intelligence cannot be used to evaluate employees’ achievement at work and that employees’ emotion play significance role in organizational success (Abubakr and Faud, 2007). Rosete and Ciarrochi (2005) stated that executives who can easily understand their feelings and that of their subordinates are more capable of achieving success in their workplace and being viewed as more effective leaders by their employees and managers. Diggins (2004) supported this idea by stating that the best managers need to have the ability of understanding their emotions in relation to decision made as a product of self-management, relationship skills and awareness of how such decision affect other members of the organizations. Diggins is of the idea that emotional intelligence is more important than traditional intelligence as it helps leaders to understand the level of their success in organization and that emotional intelligence helps people to:

1.      Better understand their interpersonal style;
2.      Understand and properly manage the impact of their emotions on their thoughts and behavior;
3.      Develop necessary ability to judge and understand changes in social factors within the workplace; and
4.      Understand how well they manage their emotions and how to improve it.

In line with the contexts analyzed above, the purpose of this individual learning is to understand how emotional intelligence influences employees’ motivation and job satisfaction. In order to undertake this individual learning work, the whole context will be done by understanding the whole aspects of the research objectives. As such, this paper is divided into three sections.

The first section is the introduction which shades light on the topic of discussion and how the work will be undertaken. The second section is the literature review which is a discussion on the topic of emotional intelligence, innovation, job performance and how emotionally intelligence (independent variable) influences employees’ innovation and job performance (dependent variables). The final section is a conclusion which presents a summary of the whole paper and recommendations on how organizational should reduce the negative impacts and improve the positive impacts.

Just as most of other organizational concepts, different definitions have emerged in relation to what emotional intelligence means. For instance, Van Rooy and Viswesvaran (2004, p. 72) analyzed the relationship between emotional intelligence and job performance, and defined emotional intelligence as the group of abilities (verbal and nonverbal) that help people to create, recognize, understand, express and analyze their emotions and emotions of other people in order to think and act in ways that are in line with demands and pressures from the environment.

However, the most commonly used definition in this field is that defined by Salovey and Mayer’s (1990) which most of the scholars in this field seem to concur with. They defined emotional intelligence as an individual’s ability to monitor their feelings and feelings of others, in order to critique emotions and use the gathered information for thinking and initiating action.

Zeidner et al. (2004) stated that there are two models of emotional intelligence as: 1) mental ability model and 2) mixed model. The mental ability model is mainly concerned about the ability to process affective information, in which emotional intelligence is seen as a set of well-defined and conceptualized cognitive abilities used to process emotional information and regulates adaptive emotions. In this model, those who view emotional intelligence as a set of well-defined emotion-processing skills (Mayer et al., 1999, 2000) always take extra step to assess emotional intelligence with objective performance tests such as problem solving and understanding of emotions in pictures.

The mixed model views emotional intelligence as a construct of different diversity, including the aspects of performance, perception, assimilation, understanding, and management of emotion. These mixed models also include motivational factors and affective dispositions. Bar-On (1997, p. 16) defined emotional intelligence in this model as a range of non-cognitive abilities, competencies, and skills that influence a person’s capability to excel in tackling environmental demand and pressures.  Goleman (1998, 2001) suggested that there are two factors that define competencies linked to emotional intelligence and they are: ability – awareness versus management of emotion; and target – whether the competences is related to one’s self or to other people.

Johnson and Indvik (1999) and McGarvey (1997) agree with many other scholars that the more an organization is enriched in terms of emotions, the higher its employees’ emotional intelligence will likely be. In order to enrich organization with emotional intelligence, there are certain requirements such as: desire for change; self-reflection; ability to listen and understand scenes in the company; development of emotional control; practical empathy and development of active listening skills; and validation of other people’s emotions.

From the above definitions, it is clear that emotional intelligence is all about understanding the environment we work in, in relation to our personal feeling and the feelings of others. For this paper, emotional intelligence will be defined as “understanding the impact of our emotional actions towards other people, and using the gathered information to change our attitude and behavior in organization.” This implies that we should not base judgment, leadership and decision on just our own gut feelings and thinking, but we should instead understand how our decision will influence other people in the organization. Where the decision is likely to inflict more joy unto other people in the organization, then the decision should be taken, but, it should be reviewed and possibly avoided in cases where it is likely to inflict pain on other people in the organization. Since emotional intelligence is about joy and pain, there is little doubt that it will influence job satisfaction and innovation in the system.

Productivity, quality, creativity and innovation are without a doubt some of the necessary ingredients for survival in today’s competitive market. Most of the scholars generally agree that organizations should be creative and innovative in order to survive and compete in today’s global market (Abubakr and Faud, 2007). 

Tompson and Werner (1997, p. 586) stated that it is no longer sufficient for employees to just undertake their essential job functions in most organizations. Modern employees are expected to initiate and partake in behaviors that will ensure the realization of organizational goals. Additionally, the rapid change process in most organizations has made “job description” an obsolete factor, but instead employees must initiate the best practices that are guaranteed to yield the best results for the companies they work in.

Abraham (1999) hypothesized that emotional intelligence is positively related to organizational outcomes of teams’ cohesion, appraisal of performance, employees’ performance, organizational commitment and organizational citizenship behavior. He found that employees who reported higher level of emotional intelligence tend to have higher level of job performance.

While little theories exist in relation to the influence of emotional intelligence on innovation, it has to be stated in this paper that emotional intelligence is correlated to job performance and innovation. This is because, emotional intelligence is all about understanding the influence of our actions on people (do it when it yield good influence and avoid it when it yields bad influence), while innovation is all about changing the organizational process in order to further enhance productivity. As such, it can be stated that people who are high in emotional intelligence (understand the impact of their actions on the organizations they work in) are likely to enhance their production process (innovate) in order to increase their productivity.

The argument above is precise with the subject in discussion because emotional intelligence helps people to understand the organizations they work in, and the impact of their actions on the organization. For example, if employee A is higher on emotional intelligence than employee B, employee A is more likely to review the impact of his job performance on organizational success and innovate his job processes in order for further enhance his contribution in the organization. As such, if they are many people like employee A in the organization, the overall productivity of the organization will be influenced positively.

Job satisfaction is commonly defined as an employee’s affective reactions to a job when the employee compares desired outcome and actual outcome obtained from undertaking the job (Cranny et al., 1992). It can be summarized to mean the degree to which people like their jobs (Spector, 1997). There are many reasons why corporations should be concerned by their employees’ job satisfaction, and one of those reasons is that it can lead to change in behavior that will affect ways the employee undertake his duties and performance in the organization (Rowden, 2002). A situational approach to job performance (Hackman and Oldman, 1980; Herzberg, 1966) views it as being influenced by organizational conditions.

Job satisfaction can be seen as either a specific attitude related to various aspects of a job, or a combination of attitudes about a job (Spector, 1997). The aspects approach is used to determine the factors that influence satisfaction and dissatisfaction about a job, while the combination approach is use to assess overall job satisfaction in relation to other interesting variables. Generally, a single item measure can be used to assess overall job satisfaction (Wanous et al., 1997). While the use of a single item measure is usually questioned, there is no empirically valid or reliable data that appears to be lost in such measure (Wanous and Reichers, 1996; Wanous et al., 1997; Ganzach, 1998).

The relationship between job satisfaction and emotional intelligence have been analyzed by only few empirical studied. Bar-On (1997) reported a direct relationship between emotional intelligence and job satisfaction. Abraham (2000) however reported a different approach, by stating that emotional intelligence is related to job satisfaction, but it is moderated by the level of environmental control experienced in the job.

The direct relationship reported by Bar-On (1997) can be explained by sample of individuals in higher level occupations such as teachers, nurses, marketer, in cases where their abilities is mollified by environmental conditions. In summary, when their individual ability is modified (increased) by environmental conditions, they tend to have higher level of job satisfaction. This explanation is also supported by literatures that suggest that people seek environments that match their characteristics (O’Reilly et al., 1991), and with goal choice theories which states that people’s choice of goal depends on their ability (Locke and Latham, 1990). Similarly, Ganzach (1998) proposed a model of relationship that exists between job satisfaction, job complexity and (rational) intelligence. It states that intelligence has a direct negative effect and an indirect positive effect on job satisfaction, and the effect is a product of job complexity.

Other authors such as Zeidner et al. (2004, p. 382) also agree that the extent to which an employ understand situation in the company such as empathy, altruism, and interpersonal sensitivity are important for building emotional intelligence, however these qualities can reduce effective performance in jobs which need ruthlessness or toughness. They are of the opinion that researches related to emotional intelligence should be very sensitive in considering certain factors, and emotional intelligence can have both positive and negative associations with job performance, depending on the level of characteristics of the employee being influenced.

Figure (1): models of the relationship between emotional intelligence and job performance

Sources as adapted from: Ricardo and Joaquin (2007)

The figure (1) above illustrated the relationship between emotional intelligence and job satisfaction. While some of the models show an indirect relationship, the general idea is that emotional intelligence is capable influences job satisfaction. This can be demonstrated to be through because job satisfaction is defined as the degree to which a person likes the job he does, while emotional intelligences is the understanding of our emotions and other people’s emotion, and using it in decision making.

Therefore, if employee A is higher than employee B in emotional intelligences, it is expected that he will love (be satisfied with) his job than employee B. This is because, he will find job in all his undertaking, as he is not just doing it to make himself happy but to make everybody in the company happy and contribute toward the overall growth of the company. Thus, he will love whatever task is given to him and input necessary effort required to encourage other people to be satisfied with their duties as well.

While the literatures discussed in this paper seem to all agree that emotional intelligence positively influences job performance and innovation, it must be stated both for the known and unknown, that there is no direct situation or side in any given organization. This implies that whatever yield positively is likely to yield negatively is employed differently in the same working environment. As such, it must be incorporate and debatable to generally agree that emotionally intelligence only fuses in positivity in job performance and innovation.

The above statement is trying to modify the theories and shading the opinion that emotional intelligence can also have negative influence on job performance and innovation. Zeidner et al. (2004, p. 382) supported this argument by stating that researchers should be very sensitive in researching and discussing certain areas of emotional intelligence, as it has the capability of yielding both positive and negative influence on job performance and innovation.

Let’s illustrate this case by taking a position whereby emotional intelligence (perception or conception of a given action) is understood by an employee to be unfavorable. For instance, an employee sees certain actions in the organizations as being discriminating and as such starts to develop negative emotions towards work. In this case, it must be stated that the employee will start experiencing reduction in job satisfaction (he is dissatisfied with situations in the work), and this rill definitely reduced his commitment to yield increased productivity (innovation) for the company.

Therefore, this paper is sensitively and aggressively debating on the notion (opposing) that emotional intelligence is all about improved innovation and higher level of job satisfaction as stated by most literatures that tends to seek relationship between these factors. Therefore, it has to be acknowledged that is emotional intelligence is to yield increased innovation and higher level of job satisfaction; an evaluation is needed to measure the impact and make corrections where necessary. The evaluation will ensure that organizations understand the actual impact of emotional intelligence on their employees and remove any factors that might be yielded a damaging impact. Therefore, organizations that are rich in emotions are advised to constantly evaluate the impact of these emotions on employees and further enhance the whole process in order to yield the intended impact.

From the above analysis, it has to be stated that the purpose of this individual learning paper has been achieved. This is because; the paper has been successful in identifying how emotional intelligence influences innovation and employee’s job satisfaction. The approach adopted was to understand the theories related to the topic and define an affective background for argument.

From the theory, emotional intelligence was defined as understanding our emotions and the impact of our decisions on other people’s emotions, and taking the information gathered into consideration when we make decisions that affect other people. Job satisfaction on the other hand was defined as how people feel comfortable and happy with the tasks they undertake in any given environment, as it was found to be influenced by environmental factors such as level of control experienced in the environment. Innovation is on its own side the process of enhancing production process in order to increase productivity in an organization.
Most of the theories discussed in this paper were of the notion that emotional intelligence influences job satisfaction and innovation positively. This they supported by stating that since emotional intelligence is all about understanding the impact of an individual’s emotions on other people, employees that are high on level of emotionally intelligence tend to be more innovative and satisfied with their job as they seek to create a balance whereby all their actions (in relation to undertaking designated tasks) are done with the intention to make others happy (increase productivity).

However, a critical review of the above argument found that there is never a perfect scene in a given business environment, and as such, emotional intelligence is not always guaranteed to positively influenced job satisfaction and innovation in a given company. As such, emotional intelligence can influence innovation and job satisfaction if it’s experienced from a negative side of the workplace environment. For instance, an employee who is a victim of preferential treatment can develop wrong emotion towards his duties and this will reduce his level of job satisfaction and innovation. In conclusion, it will be stated that emotional intelligence is related to job satisfaction and innovation in a given organization, but the type (either negative or positive) of influence it yield depends on the perception and conception an employee associated it with.

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