Exploring trainer perspectives of emotional intelligence training program design : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Management at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
The research explores the perspectives of 21 emotional intelligence (EI) trainers working in New Zealand to identify variables that contribute to the design of successful EI training. The development of EI abilities has been established as making a positive and observable difference to employee performance in the workplace. Therefore from an organisational and an individual perspective it is desirable to develop EI skills. While the importance of the contribution of EI theory is well established and reported in the academic literature, the perspectives of EI trainers who conduct this training has been largely under-represented and unreported. This research explores the perspectives of EI trainers to find out what variables contribute the success design of successful EI training.
The study uses an Action Research (AR) approach which is an iterative process of exploration, action and evaluation for the purpose of gaining greater understanding of the phenomenon under inquiry. The process is repeated until the desired understanding and pragmatic outcomes are reached. AR is a useful methodology for this study as it is a new field of research and therefore as a researcher I needed to respond to the findings as they emerged. The analysis of findings uses data from interviews, World Café reflection sheets, on-line descriptive surveys and researcher observations, depending on the stage of the AR process. The findings highlighted the strong alignment of EI trainer practice with EI theory, which reinforces the need for their ‘voice’ to be represented in academic literature. Discrete roles of academic, consultant and practitioner were identified within the generic term ‘EI trainer’ which has implications for learners, trainers and organisations. Successful EI training outcomes were also predicated on the importance of self-awareness for EI development, and the need to design a safe learning environment characterised by trust and observable through learners’ readiness to talk about issues in which they felt vulnerable. Two models were developed based on the findings. Firstly, the Emotional Intelligence Learning Environment model highlights the complexity of the learning environment which needs managing. The model is useful for helping EI trainers design their training programs in such a way as to create a safe learning environment so that learners are able to navigate the turmoil and chaos they experience in the process of achieving EI development. The second model, the Self-awareness Engine
of Growth Model was designed to assist EI trainers to develop learners’ self-awareness, a key component that learners need to increase their EI.
Additionally, EI trainers taking part in the study tended to practice in relative isolation from one another and expressed the desire to connect and engage with others. In response to this need, a symposium for EI trainers was organised, with the theme “Connect, Network, Engage.” The symposium was evaluated in terms of its contribution toward building a fledgling EI training community of practice.