Understanding the relationship between emotional intelligence and team effectiveness in global, high-technology engineering teams
Richer, Lynne D.
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This research focused on engineers in the high technology industry as a distinct population that remains understudied in research on workplace emotional intelligence (EI). A mixed-method field study was used to examine the relationship between emotional intelligence and team effectiveness in engineering teams in a global high-tech organization. The study population was 27 self-directed, global software development engineering teams whose work was structured using Agile / Scrum methodology. Team member EI was measured through use of the short form Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire. Group emotional intelligence was measured through use of the Team EI Survey, which assesses team norms that support group-level emotional intelligence. Team effectiveness was measured via surveys completed by both team members and their managers. Findings revealed the study population of engineers had significantly higher mean levels of individual trait EI and their teams had significantly higher group-level EI scores than the overall populations in the survey databases for both instruments. Individual trait EI and group-level EI were found to be significantly positively correlated with one another at the overall mean level and among many of their dimensions. Team member ratings of team effectiveness were shown to have a significant positive correlation with group-level EI, while manager ratings of team effectiveness showed an inverse, negative (although not significant) relationship. Qualitative responses from both managers and team members stated a strong valuing of emotionally-intelligent behaviors and norms as enablers of successful team performance. Consistent with the data, comments also suggested a strong connection between the practices of the Agile / Scrum methodology and the development and reinforcement of individual trait EI and group-level EI norms. Implications for practice include establishing a common definition of team effectiveness across managers and team members. Findings also support the development and use of group-level emotional intelligence norms for engineering teams. Further research is recommended to explore the relationship between use of the Agile/Scrum methodology and individual and group emotional intelligence. This study contributes to the literature on emotional intelligence and team effectiveness, particularly for self-directed engineering teams using the Agile / Scrum methodology.