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Emotional Process – Using Emotional Intelligence for Process Mapping

The signs are not always easy to spot. A clearly uncomfortable shift in the chair.  Scowling at the conversation. 

Pushing away from the table and away from the conversation.  All in response to the question, “What process does your team use?”  Being aware of the different emotional states of the team members involved in the process mapping is a skill that can make your process modeling easy or painfully difficult. 

How can Emotional Intelligence help create better processes?

Process mapping or process modeling visually describes a set of activities in a process. The representations or illustration can describe either how work is done (As Is) or could be done (To Be). In addition to detailing the sequence of activities in a process for better understanding; process models may have other benefits and applications, including serving as a tool for better planning and communication.

Capturing the process information can be done through an interview, workshop or direct observation.  Each method has its pros and cons, and several of these techniques require carefully managed human interaction. Emotional Intelligence plays a vital role for the Process Analyst and Business Analyst. Emotional management in conducting interviews or holding workshops is a subset of Emotional Intelligence can thus be considered a winning strategy during process mapping. As the Process Analyst could work across all functions and departments within an organization, relationship management becomes more critical to harvest the right information from the right people. 

The four branch model of Emotional Intelligence describes the 4 primary skills that are part of Emotional Intelligence. These 4 primary skills involve the abilities to accurately perceive emotions in yourself and recognize them in others, use emotions to facilitate thinking, understand emotional meanings, and manage emotions effectively.

For processing mapping understanding these 4 areas and how they can be used to elicit the process mapping accurately is an important skill.

Body language tells a lot about all of us and if the analyst is giving mixed signals, the recipient might lose interest in giving out more than just what is sufficient. The Process Analyst or Business Analyst should be aware of the body language they are using in meetings and conducting workshops.  A natural and casual sense of curiosity is useful for a workshop or interview.  Curiosity is demonstrated in asking more questions and not jumping to conclusions that are negative in nature. Capitalizing on social awareness and body language is a skill to that will provide brilliant feedback. An inquisitive tone, can build trust, a judgmental one can do the exact opposite.  Careful attention to the tone of your voice is helpful in ensuring you are not “talking down” to colleagues providing you process information.

Individuals can act differently during an information capturing sessions. Individuals can either be onboard or simply not interested in many ways including body language and tone of voice. Using very collaborative techniques such as a whiteboard or post-it notes where everyone can interact in a hands-on manner significantly improves the ability to elicit a process more fully. Visual interaction assists individuals that are part of the process in understanding their process steps more fully but also those of others that are involved in the process.  Visualization creates a story telling environment where history and prior decisions are more clearly understood.

Another subset of Emotional Intelligence is self-management which is the ability to be aware of our emotions and to choose what we say and do. Process mapping requires an analyst to be in control and make the experience of process mapping a positive experience. Maintain a positive attitude and facilitate the discussion not allowing individuals to take over the process mapping activity with negative feedback.  Facilitation requires solid ground rules for the meeting that are agreed upon by all.  Ground rules create a more positive collaborative environment.

The person being interviewed for the process mapping may get defensive and will not help when caught off guard.  Good preparation and setting expectations for the interview meeting is a critical success factor for the analyst. Create the positive experience from the very beginning to gain better results throughout the process mapping experience.

Change can be frustrating to an analyst as new tasks are discovered or tagged as no longer needed.  The best way to deal with this is to be prepared for a change in each session to allow for corrections and improvements.  Give yourself space and time to handle changes and corrections that often occur during the process modeling experience.  Actively manage those changes by identifying them, determining if they are valid and acting on them.  Keep a change log for your process mapping experience to identify the changes.  This helps you keep organized to know which changes are being reviewed, which as approved and which were rejected.  A good change log can prevent having the same conversation over and over on the same change.

Being aware of body language, collaborative interaction and managing change effectively are good steps to improving your next process mapping meeting.