In EQ in Contracts I asked whether any contracts refer to the need for a good standard of emotional intelligence (EQ) for the parties. Good EQ is critical to meet the demands of the construction industry.

Elizabeth Kavanagh, head of research and innovation at Stride Treglown, emailed to say that ‘if we can measure and develop EQ than we can contract for it’.

Can we measure EQ?

Current contracts allow the parties to make promises that are vague and subjective, and therefore not objectively measurable, like:

  • reasonable skill and care
  • best efforts
  • good and workmanlike manner
  • best industry practice
  • to the reasonable satisfaction of.

Current contracts also contain wishy-washy clauses promoting collaboration like:

  • spirit of mutual trust and co-operation (NEC4)
  • work in a cooperative and collaborative manner and address behaviour that is not collaborative (JCT)
  • cooperate with each other with the aim of satisfactorily completing the works (IChemE)

The adoption of EQ into contracts will need a holistic and integrated approach, throughout the lifecycle of contracting, rather than bolt-on terms of dubious worth!

We can measure what counts towards good EQ (see for example the ISEI tools for measuring your own EQ). So we can build processes within a contract which reinforce the behaviours that would benefit the project team and create the right conditions for good EQ.

Can we develop it?

In Collaborate to innovate: how could you prepare for a digitalised construction sector for BIM Today Elizabeth says:

As we digitise, the skills most in demand will be in common with other industries, which include for example cognitive flexibility and adaptability in the way we learn and approach issues, along with the emerging priority for a greater reliance on emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is particularly important when working in a collaborative team as this requires us to be able to raise and deal with conflict. Emotional intelligence means an ability to manage my own emotions, to recognise the emotions of others and to use social intelligence to manage the situations this creates.

She also wants parties and project team members to ‘abandon their need to be right‘. Again, ISEI provides training on how to develop each person’s EQ as well as training for groups such as those working on a construction project.

What should we do?

We need to fail fast, fail forward and fail often if the construction industry is to innovate. This needs to be woven into the fabric of our contracts to encourage working together for common goals, as a coherent team.

Have you come across clauses which promote good relationships within the project team, openness, true collaboration, regular communication and clear leadership? Or have you seen the opposite – clauses which encourage or stoke conflict, prevent sharing data about failures or risks, allow claims to remain unresolved, and prevent early resolution?

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