Monday, January 09, 2006

Emotional Intelligence Revisited

In 1995, Daniel Goleman, a psychologist, published the his Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ (Bantam Books, 1995). In it, he tried to show that emotional intelligence-which can loosley be described as a person's ability to manage his or herself and relate to other people- matters twice as much as Intelligence Quotient (IQ) or technical skills in job success. In 1998, Goleman published a follow-up, Working with Emotional Intelligence (Bantam Books, 1998), in which he revealed data from studies in more than 500 organizations that proved factors such as self-confidence, self awaremess, self control, commitment and itegrity not only create more successful employess, but also more successful companies. The importance of this book is that it proved that personality and character count on the job, and that the skills that contribute to emotional intelligence can be taught. Unlike IQ, which is a person's intellectual potential that is fixed at birth, patterns of emotional intellignece (or "EQ") can be developed over time.
Employers nowadays appear to be more willing to invest in soft-skills development, especially at the higher management levels. But if you're a human resources manager who wants to make the case for developing the EQ of employees, you need to understand that traditional soft-skills training is just one piece of a long-term proces that begins with a thorough undrstanding of why emotional intelligence matters, and ends with commtiment to ongoing coaching and metoring of your employees.
Emotions are an intrinsic part of our biological makeup, and every morning they march into the office with us and influence our behavior. To some extent, we have always known that the ability to undrstand, monitor, mange and capitalize on our emotions can help us make better decisions, cope with setbacks and interact with others more effectively. Goleman and other researchers' work provided us with hard data to support our unsure knowledge. The following statistics in Goleman last book, deserve to be considered:
  • Research on 181 jobs at 121 companies worldwide showed that 2 out of 3 abilities vital for success were emotional competencies such as trustworthiness, adaptability and a talent for collaboration.
  • According to a study of what corporations seek when they hire MBAs, the three most desired capabilities are communcation skills, interpersonal skills and initiativ-all of which are elements of emotional intelligence.
  • Emotional intelligence mattes in surprising places such as computer programing, where the top 10 percent of performers exceeded average performers in producaing effective programs by 320 percent, and the superstars at the 1 percent level produced an amazing 1,272 percent more than qverage. Assessments of these top performers revealed that they were better at such things as teamwork, staying late to finish a project and sharing shorcuts with co-workers, i.e. they didn't compete - they collaborate.
  • Studies of close to 500 organizations indicate that people who score highest on EQ measure rise to the top of corporations. Among other things, these "star employees" posess more interpersonal skills and confidence than "regular employees,"who receive less favorable performance reviews.

Learning the skills that contribute to emotional intelligence can't be done in a one-shot training course. That is probably why, although emotional intelligence has iven weith to soft skills development, they aren't the same thing. Skills training is typically very narrow and focused. Courses may be built around a specific skill such as active listening, problem solving, or team building. To Develop emotional intelligence, however, companies must focus on the broader papameters of organizational and behavioral change. While skills training is still an important part of the process, companies need to help employees understand what skills and competencies are most important on the job, how thos competencies develop-or not-over time and how those competencies work together to create emotional intelligence.

Therefore, in order to develop tha kind of long-lasting behavioral changes that have an impact on the the bottom line, the companies must:

  • Undrstand what competencies employees need for the organizations to meet its objectives.
  • Establish the outcomes that are desired from the development effort.
  • Assess the current EQ level of workdes using such things as 360 degree feedback.
  • provide taining in specific competencies.
  • Create ways for employees to develop and improve their competncy level on an ongoing basis through such things as coaching.

This last piece-ongoing support-is particulary importnat because developing emotional intelligence takes work and practive just like any behavior modification effort.

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