Emotional Intelligence, Communication and Job Satisfaction in Project Environment

TEXT | Frank Akpedeye and Adebayo Agbejule
Permalink http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi-fe2023042138033


The main purpose of this article is to explore how emotional intelligence and effective communication practice affect job satisfaction in a project environment. Although project management (PM) has been in existence for a long time and so many books and journals have been published to support project management principles, emotional intelligence has little attention in key PM publications, such as the PMBOK. Hence there is an existing gap in the role of emotional intelligence skills in project management, and how it is related to managing the project and people.

Emotions drive feelings; hence, it is important to understand self-emotion and the emotions of colleagues to create a friendly and productive working environment. A friendly environment creates mutual understanding between project team members, which subsequently drives output and increases productivity. Emotional intelligence (EI) is steadily becoming an important phenomenon within project working environment because of its impact on creating mutual understanding and fostering effective communication among team members.

EI is obviously important, but this also requires effective communication to pass the ideas and innovations from one person to another; it is not enough for a project team member or leader or some team members to possess high a level EI without influencing other members. Job satisfaction is what one gets from carrying out a certain job or task and this satisfaction motivates the employee to do more or contribute their quota in achieving the organization set target or goals. Job satisfaction is determined by both internal and external factors; internal factors in the case of satisfaction derive from the job itself, accomplishment and personal growth, while an external factor will be the case of satisfaction derived from payments, company policies and supports, supervision, fellow workers, chances for promotion and customers (Moslehpour, Man-Ling, Van, & Alaleh, 2022).

Consequently, it is important to evaluate the role of effective communication in job satisfaction. Effective communication is important because distortion in a process flow is a direct result of ineffective communication, which also leads to misunderstanding between personnel, inadequate defined tasks and critical processes, and this distortion creates uncertainty regarding responsibility, scope, and objectives of the projects. (Zulch, 2014), and this distortion can also lead to distrust and lack of confidence between workers.

Emotional Intelligence, communication skills, and job satisfaction

A successful project requires technical, interpersonal and emotional skills from the initiation, execution, control, and all through to the closing phase. Interpersonal skills are basically having the confidence to communicate, and emotional skills are the ability to make the right decision in a difficult situation.  Zulch (2014) suggests that without emotional skills, the interpersonal skills may not be effective, and without the interpersonal skills, the technical skills may be wasted. This implies that emotional intelligence plays a vital role in communications. Effective control of communication skills is the medium by which the project manager influences a single person, a group, an organization, or a community.

Job satisfaction is the physiological and psychological satisfaction toward the working environment and, also a worker sense of achievement and success on the job. But it is inevitable to talk about job satisfaction without mentioning effective communication, communications are also a medium of outlining the work procedure in terms of deliverable and set goals.

Communication is the pivot point that drive information between work colleagues, which, if properly used, can create proper bonding and foster stronger relation between colleagues which is healthy for company growth. On the other hand, bad communication processes can spell doom for the company because they can easily drive down motivation of workers, which is one of the core ingredients of job satisfaction.

Research method

A survey research method was adopted, and data was collected from respondents using a web-based survey questionnaire in an information technology company located in southwest of Finland. A questionnaire was sent to a total of 134 personnel with 58 responses received, giving a response rate of 43%. Table 1 shows a background of the respondents. The survey instruments are adopted from existing literature; on emotional intelligence (Naseer, Saeed-ul-Hassan, Fazalur, & Nabi, 2011), communication (Zulch, 2014) and job satisfaction (Hofmans, Dries, & Pepermans, 2008) and the questions were asked on a Likert scale (1 to 5).

Table 1. Demographic background of respondent

Results of the study

The summary results of the study show that emotional intelligence has a positive effect on communication which in turn has a positive impact on job satisfaction (see Table 2). Emotional intelligence has a positive and significant relationship with job satisfaction (r = 0.41, p < 0.01), and communication (r = 0.47, p <0.01). Communication has a positive and significant relationship with job satisfaction (r = 0.48, p <0.01). This implies that communication (CC) plays a mediating role between emotional intelligence (EI) and job satisfaction (JS).

CC   0.47**10.48
Table 2. Correlation matrix

**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

The study also explored gender differences in emotional intelligence in the project environment. The results presented in Table 3 show that the female project members had higher mean values (3.9250) compared to the male project members (3.8393), although the differences are not statistically significant.

Variable of studyMeanNStandard deviation
Table 3. Emotional Intelligence and gender

Discussions and Conclusions

Based on the findings, organization needs to create awareness of EI amongst project team members. Although EI are personal feelings, which might sometimes prove difficult to measure because the mode of an individual is affected by so many internal and external factors, the fact remains that EI could be learned. This can be done by introducing emotional intelligence learning programs in the organization on a regular basis. Although some people are naturally gifted than others, EI could be learned when people are personally motivated and practice extensively what they had learn, receive feedback, and reinforce their new skills. (Serrat, 2017).

People who score high on EI are probably thinking before they act in different situations, and have ability to handle changes smoothly, handle multiple work demands, readily shift priorities, adapt their responses and tactics to fit the fluid circumstances and successfully respond to a vast variety of emotional stimuli being elicited from the inner self and the immediate environment (Ansari & Malik, 2017). Developing the concept of knowledge sharing within organization is also an important aspect of improving productivity and services because knowledge sharing provides a basis for competitive advantage, innovation performance, and creativity. However, it is difficult to discuss the concept of communication and knowledge sharing without taking trust into consideration.

Trust is simply “the extent to which one is willing to ascribe good intentions to and have confidence in the words and actions of other people” (Ansari & Malik, 2017). Knowledge sharing is high in an environment where people are allowed to communicate their ideas, use themselves in solving problems and can resolve any disagreement. EI attribute also helps in building trust amongst work colleagues.

Practical implications

Practically, the project managers should pay more attention to communication planning to assist in developing the trait of EI amongst employees. Poor communication during projects affects all parameters in achieving a successful project, the safety of workers, cost, schedule, and project quality. Improving communication leads to improved project quality and less failure. A proper communication plan should be put in place or improved on, to minimize the effect of cross functional communication challenges. It is important to prioritize communication and develop a clear plan on how information will be shared, and which medium will be most effective. In addition, the plan should clarify reporting relationships and stipulate who has the authority in final decision making because it has been observed that distorted communication has resulted in production delay and deliverables. Emphasis should be placed on communication awareness within the organization.

  • Ansari, A.H., & Malik, S. (2017). Ability-based emotional intelligence and knowledge sharing: The moderating role of trust in co-workers. Vine, 47, 211-227.

  • Hofmans, J., Dries, N., & Pepermans, R. (2008). The Career Satisfaction Scale: Response bias among men and women. Journal of Vocational Behavior.

  • Moslehpour M., Chang M. L., & Dadvari A. (2022). Adopting the configurational approach to the analysis of job satisfaction in Mongolia. European Research on Management and Business Economics, 28(1), 100179.

  • Naseer, Z., Saeed-ul-Hassan, C., Fazalur, R., & Nabi, J. B. (2011). Impact of Emotional Intelligence on Team Performance in Higher Education Institutes. International online Journal of Educational Sciences, 45.

  • Serrat, O. (2017). Understanding and Developing Emotional Intelligence. In Knowledge Solutions (329-339). Singapore: Springer.

  • Zulch, B. (2014). Communication: The Foundation of Project Management☆. Procedia Technology, 16, 1000-1009.

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