Is retail suffering from an emotional intelligence deficit?
One of the most popular courses in Stanford University’s MBA program curriculum is called “Organizational Behavior 374: Interpersonal Dynamics” or, as it is otherwise known, “Touchy Feely.” Now, the school has created an abridged version of the class and begun marketing it to businesses as an individual training course, reports The Wall Street Journal.
Students who have taken the class report feeling emotional as they come to grips with who they are and how they are perceived by others.
“It’s jarring if you perceive yourself to be one way your whole life, and then hear that’s not actually how one person sees you, nor the other 10 people in the room,” Andy Katz-Mayfield, co-founder and CEO of Harry’s Inc. who took the class while at Stanford, told the Journal. “You realize you’re the one whose calibration is off sometimes.”
In a RetailWire discussion yesterday — “Are smartphones making sales associates obsolete?” — Oliver Guy, global retail director, Software AG, spoke to the interplay between humanity and the growing use of mobile technology.
“We are entering an age where emotional intelligence is becoming more important,” Mr. Guy wrote. “Upskilling staff to help them develop emotional intelligence offers the opportunity to improve overall customer experience and have the technology as a way to augment the capabilities of the store associates.”
The need for emotional intelligence, of course, is not simply about interactions between staff and customers, but also within organizations and with vendors, as well.
In another RetailWire article, managing editor Tom Ryan wrote about the steps that Mitch Modell, CEO of Modell’s Sporting Goods, took to personally connect with vendors after a rumor began that the chain might be considering bankruptcy.
Mr. Mitchell called vendors directly and told them he would “move to Venezuela and live with Maduro” before he would let his company fail. Years of personal relationships with Mr. Modell and his word were enough to convince vendors to continue business as usual with the chain.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How important is emotional intelligence to the top- and bottom-line performance of retail organizations? How effective are retailers when it comes to assessing the emotional intelligence of new hires and then training them to improve these skills once on staff?