As you sow, so shall you reap?
If you look around, you will find a fair number of studies that positivize the need of having leaders with high Emotional Intelligence (EI) at the workplace. Based on the principles of top-down management, having such leaders is likely to result in the organization being emotionally intelligent as a whole. But, how about looking at this from a different perspective? Instead of focusing on the leaders to inculcate these competencies and then trying to pass these on to subordinates, what if we were to make EI a parameter on the basis of which new recruits are hired?
From the recruiter’s point of view, academic performance or work experience of applicants is not really [not only] sufficient indicators of whether they should be hired for a job. Recruiters are constantly on the lookout for that ‘edge’, which can set an individual apart from the large pool of applicants. In our opinion, this ‘edge’ could be equivalent to elements of ‘Emotional Intelligence’ as defined by Daniel Goleman who, defines this construct as ‘the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.’ While hiring individuals who are emotionally intelligent, there are five characteristics that recruiters need to look out for.
The first element of EI is Self-Awareness. An individual who is self-aware is one who has an accurate understanding of one’s strengths and weaknesses. This is an important quality to possess as it is likely to make the individual more receptive to feedback by others. Being aware about one’s areas of improvement enables the individual to learn from one’s past mistakes as well. Being self-aware also has a positive impact on one’s interpersonal relationships at work & allows the individual to understand others keeping the same process in mind.
Self-Regulation, the ability to manage one’s emotions and adapt to the needs of the external environment, constitutes the second element of EI. At the workplace, the individual is likely to face several deadlines and work pressures. In order to deal with these effectively, s/he needs to be patient and rational while taking any decisions. The ability to adapt to the demands the external environment places on the individual is an asset that recruiters look out for while hiring.
Motivation is the third element. In this context, it refers to the ability of the individual to strive towards achieving one’s goals and initiate actions that will benefit the organization in the long run. Recruiters look out for individuals who are highly motivated as
The fourth element of EI, Empathy, is the ability of an individual to understand how others think or feel about a particular situation from their point of view. This skills comes handy when the individual is interacting with diverse groups at the workplace. Working in a diverse set-up is one of the biggest challenges that employees today and being empathetic is a skill that is considered imperative in such settings.
Social Skills, the fifth element of EI, is the ability to manage one’s relationships, communicate effectively and understand the networks within the organization. The nature of work today expects individuals to constantly interact with one another and get the work done efficiently in teams. Being socially skilled gives an individual the advantage to work in such a dynamic environment.
There are certain psychometric tests which aid recruiters to measure the level of EI in an individual. While interpreting scores of such tests, one needs to keep in mind that unlike Intelligence Quotient (IQ) which remains fairly stable after a certain age is reach, EI is an evolving construct that can be learnt and inculcated over a period of time. Thus, apart from the test scores, sound judgment would be required for the recruiter to gauge whether the individual possesses the five qualities that have been described earlier. This can be done using innovative hiring techniques such as the in-basket technique and behavioural interviews.
If you are building an organization for the future and your employees are your strength, then having the ‘right’ talent will go a long way and help you [as a leader] to avoid a series of people issues. After all, who wants to hire a falcon and then train him/her to become a mouse? Eh?
This article was first published in the July Issue of People Matters magazine. To know more about how to create a happy workplace, say hello at firstname.lastname@example.org