If you just started your MSP venture, you may find yourself leading a team of engineers who may not have the best people skills. Not all technical resources excel at emotional intelligence (EI). But this doesn’t mean it can’t be fostered.

The impact of EI on your client interactions and hiring process can be powerful. Making emotional quotient (EQ) facilitation training part of your mission is a smart thing to do.

Start with yourself

As a leader, you can start the entire exercise with yourself. An MSP leader who practices greater emotional intelligence will naturally be more self-aware. After all, EI is all about being comfortable with the uncomfortable. When you work your muscle out, they ache initially, but eventually, they strengthen and can endure increasing weight load. Similarly, an MSP leader who understands him/herself and his/her teams will be better positioned to handle the pain points of client management, competition, mistakes, upgrades, and expansion.

Train technical resources

You will likely need to roll up your sleeves and conduct internal evaluations of employees when it comes to emotional intelligence. I encourage you to use an expert EI coach to help foster emotional development. Understand that some people may react negatively to the evaluation. With that in mind, take a careful and tactical approach.

One place to start is acknowledging the reality that building a great relationship requires empathy. That applies to customers as well. Ask your engineers to reflect on and answer questions such as “Where are my clients coming from?” and “Which direction are they heading to?” Knowing answers to these questions will help during client interactions and help your team understand the point of view of your customer—something essential for good client service.

Redesign your hiring process

When you hire talent, give attention to EI as much as IQ during interviews. Ask them questions such as, “Do you face difficulties in managing your impulse?” and “Are you good at adapting to change?” Also ask: “Do you tend to become defensive under pressure?” and “Can you manage the shifting needs and priorities of our clients?”

Recognition, understanding, utilization, and regulation of emotions are all in balance when a candidate has a high EI score. In order to recruit the “right fit,” ask them to rate themselves on agility.

Inspire them to sharpen social skills

Sociability isn’t always innate; it may require some effort. Emotional cues can be incredibly subtle and picking up on them may take real practice. Your salespeople must be much more effective at detecting cues while pitching clients. Find ways to help your team build those social skills, starting with each other and then expanding to include your clients.

Final Thought: Emotional intelligence is a core component of an MSP business that leadership should build. A workforce that understands emotional realities will communicate more effectively with clients, yielding fruitful conversions.