- Emotional Intelligence
Author: Catherine Fox
Date: 06/10/2003 18:59:00 Words: 965
Publication: Financial Review Section: Comment Opinion
Page: 59 Source: AFRBreaking
The holy grail of more accurately matching people to jobs has become even more alluring as turnover costs escalate and job tenures shorten and performance expectations rise.
The interest has fuelled an entire industry of specialist testing, and helped popularise the concept of emotional intelligence.
At the same time, IQ as a key indicator of future performance has fallen from grace. It sounds too much like a thing of the past, a blunt instrument with too many flaws to help the harassed manager trying to quickly replace an employee.
In fact, many studies have found that IQ scores, along with other tools such as work samples and structured interviews, remain one of the more reliable predictors of success at work. But these days it doesn’t go far enough. With so much attention on how we behave at work, the pressure is on to find an equivalent test for emotional intelligence.
A study underway at Melbourne’s Swinburne University is aiming to establish whether accurate testing for emotional intelligence – or EQ – can be developed and if the results can be linked to job performance.
The research, headed by Professor Con Stough, is making use of data collected at recruitment firm Hamilton James and Bruce and some results are expected by the end of next month.
Lenore Lambert, head of people and performance at HJB, is collaborating with Dr Stough during the study. A trained psychologist, she is hopeful the research will help establish a new tool for assessing candidates for selection and promotion.
Although IQ as a recruitment tool has become a bit taboo, particularly in an egalitarian society such as Australia, says Lambert, it is very important. Without sufficient IQ for a job you won’t be able to do it. But other elements can offer the chance to develop and hone skills.
“IQ has been historically reliable. But one of the differences between EQ and IQ is EQ can be developed,” says Lambert. “A leopard can’t change its spots. If a person doesn’t have the ability, they don’t have it. However, a lot of people could read emotions in other people but they don’t go to the next step.”
At HJB, the vast majority of costs are people costs, and Lambert says it’s increasingly important to understand it’s a business issue to establish how best to select and promote people. EQ has already been shown to have a link with effective leadership. Now the connection to job performance is the focus.
“Assuming we find a link, we’d like to integrate them into our selection measures,” she says. Eventually, the results of the study could be used for clients too.
“Very few recruitment companies are investing in developing the knowledge base on which the industry is based. They have seen themselves as sales-based.”
But there is likely to be some differences in the EQ skills of employees in different roles.
“My prediction is I would be very surprised if there was no relationship between EQ and performance with our relationship managers.
“I’m less certain and quite interested to know if there is a relationship between EQ and performance as a recruitment consultant.
“If I look at billings, some of them who have been typically better performers are good at some EQ, but it’s more about what drives them. And what they get out of it emotionally is about drive for achievement.”
Lambert says a lot of EQ is about awareness and self-insight. Measuring EQ helps from the awareness point of view.
But organisations interested in identifying EQ and using the results as predictors will also have to allocate resources to build these skills where they are missing.
The data provided by HJB will consist of surveys, including 360-degree assessments of managers and colleagues.
EQ has become an enormously popular topic in business circles in recent years, and is reflected in the high sales of books by guru Daniel Goleman.
One of the most popular articles ever printed by the Harvard Business Review is by Goleman and focuses on emotional intelligence and leadership.
At the same time, and not surprisingly, there’s a high level of confusion about what emotional intelligence actually means. Somehow, along the way, EQ has become synonymous with being “nice”, or even some kind of emotional outpouring.
Both are incorrect, according to Goleman, who explains that EQ is about managing feelings, being self-aware and even confronting people with issues they have been avoiding. On a personal level, emotional competence is also about self-regulation and motivation, while social competence is about empathy and social skills, which include communication, leadership and influence.
Lambert believes the trend to measure the people factors at HJB could, paradoxically, lead to less obsession with sales metrics.
“We are doing another study about what makes a good recruiter, and it’s not only about defining performance as billings.
“Many firms think of themselves as sales companies and look at metrics. We are looking across a broad stream of measures and different streams to find if any of those factors are linked to performance.”
colourthinking comment on ‘emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence – a really interesting subject and one that is long overdue.
Yes, many people start with being concerned that this is the ‘thin end of the wedge’ – having to be nice to people, focus on people rather than performance – “who is going to pay the bills when everyone is running around being concerned for each other’.
It just isn’t like that.
Firstly to address the article – I am not so sure that the IQ concept was all that successful in the past – there is potential for that remark to be fairly self serving – self fulfilling. If a person was only hired on their IQ (intelligence quotient) then those who did not measure up on the day to this ‘test’, were just not hired and there is therefore no record of how they could have performed.
Comments like, ‘a leopard doesn’t change its spots’ are so ‘not useful’ that the comment should never again be spoken. Certainly if we treat someone as of they have done something, if we do not change our behaviour or the environment, if we do not attend to our expectations, then someone can repeat a past behaviour unknowingly – we do that ourselves every moment of every day. But, to say we can’t change our behaviour is to completely miss the fact /point that from kindergarten (and before) we have been doing nothing but, changing our behaviour.
Certainly some of us may have visited a certain behaviour longer than is useful but in most cases we have moved to another behaviour, sometimes by degree and sometimes transformationally. Sometimes we have changed because we have seen the need and sometimes because someone else has seen the need and found a strategy to encourage / support that change.
Emotional Quotient is about many things, some of those we list below:-
- Equal value communication
- Managing our feelings
- Being self-aware
- Confronting situations honestly
- Being open and honest
- Allowing people to grow
- Measurable outcomes
- Respecting and honouring
- Timely feedback
The intelligence to see what it is and, to jointly develop strategies to remedy deficiencies.
‘Could lead to less obsession with sales metrics’ …. EI is not about achieving lower results but about working with people not directing them. It is about developing agreed vision / objectives, about including people, listening and valuing and through those strategies, developing ownership, empowerment and focus that will deliver to the business more bountiful results, more sustainable results than would otherwise not been possible.