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Exploring Levels of Awareness and Perceptions of Emotional Intelligence within a UK Law Firm

Collinson-Shield, J and Antoniadou, M (2016) Exploring Levels of Awareness and Perceptions of Emotional Intelligence within a UK Law Firm. In: University Forum for Human Resource Development 2016, 08 June 2016 - 10 June 2016, Manchester. (In Press)

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Abstract

This study explores levels of awareness and perception of EI within a UK law firm to establish if levels of awareness and perception differ amongst different roles within the organisation. The literature review focussed on the EI models proposed by Salovey and Mayer (1990) and Goleman (1995) which formed part of the conceptual framework in order to ascertain if awareness or perceptions linked to the existing models of EI. The research was qualitative in nature and semi-structured interviews were used as the method of data collection and participants were purposively selected to obtain data from employees in different positions within the organisation. The study findings indicated low awareness of EI overall and a limited understanding of what EI entails, but the study highlighted the use of EI skills within the client relationship. Due to the relationship the organisation has with clients and the link to profit, EI skills are implemented when communicating with clients to ensure that they remain loyal to the organisation and thus continuing to generate profit for the firm. However the use and importance of EI skills within the employment relationship and with colleagues were not recognised, the focus of EI skills was specifically concentrated within the client relationship ensuring it was protected. The implications of the study were raised in relation to the employment relationship and the damage that the lack of awareness and inaccurate perceptions of EI is having on the relationship with other colleagues. As a result, this is creating a high turnover of staff and teams that are not performing to their maximum potential and therefore not effectively contributing to the overall success of the organisation. The recommendations of the study are to implement a training programme for the organisation as a whole to raise awareness of the importance of EI and to eradicate misconstrued perceptions of the concept in order to strive towards a workforce with high EI skills.

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