Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute.
I have been asked in one of the HR forums on LinkedIn, why there was any value in considering employees' emotional intelligence during the staff recruitment process. The person who asked said that a 2005 study had found that the levels of employees' emotional intelligence had no impact on their performance.
This viewpoint is out of date.
Are there exaggerated claims about emotional intelligence
Admittedly, there have been a lot of claims about the impact that emotional intelligence has on people and their success. Some of these claims have been wildly exaggerated.
For instance, a study based on Daniel Goleman's work, at one stage claimed that emotional intelligence could account for 85% of your success.
How can this be? Surely no one psychological variable can account for anything like 85% of human behaviour. What of IQ, personality, culture, gender, age, family upbringing, education, and even luck? All these factors also influence a person's success.
These claims have partly arisen because some models of emotional intelligence, such as those of Daniel Goleman and Revue Bar-On, appear to have incorporated factors in addition to those related to emotions and emotional intelligence into their emotional intelligence assessments.
Social behaviour, personality traits and more have been considered. If all those additional aspects are placed under the umbrella of "emotional intelligence" then, of course, there are going to be research results that give such large figures.
Having said all this, if you strip away any possibly exaggerated claims, you are still left with a core body of solid research into emotional intelligence that clearly demonstrates that it is an advantage to have employees with higher levels of emotional intelligence at work. Research shows that employees with higher emotional intelligence fare better.
Five benefits of high emotional intelligence at work
Research by Ben Palmer et al, a leading Australian researcher into emotional intelligence, has found that employees with higher levels of emotional intelligence have less absenteeism. How useful it that? Very! This means that more emotionally intelligent employees are less likely to take time off work, and thus don't cost you as much money, and don't cause as many disruptions in the workplace.
Ben Palmer et al, also found that employees who are more emotionally intelligent were more likely to be able to handle organisational stress. Is there stress in your organisation? If there is then this would be an advantage among your employees, wouldn't it?
John Mayer, one of the pioneers of emotional intelligence, says there are aspects of human behaviour that can be repeatedly attributed to people with high emotional intelligence. He says, in his paper written with Peter Salovey and David Caruso, that:
The high EI Individual ...
- Tends to be more open and agreeable than others.
- Is less apt to engage in problem behaviours.
- Avoids self-destructive, negative behaviours such as smoking, excessive drinking, drug abuse and violent episodes with others.
(In: Emotional intelligence: theory, findings and implications. Psychological Inquiry, 2004).
Irrespective of everything else would there be any advantages to your organisation if your employees had these characteristics of a high emotionally intelligent individual?
This is just a sample of early research in the area. Since then there has been so much more and it will have to be left for later articles.
Do you recruit emotionally intelligent employees?
The evidence that higher levels of emotional intelligence among employees bring benefits is constantly being supported. These general findings support the value of employees generally having high emotional intelligence. However, this isn't the full picture as certain occupations, specific job roles and particular industries may benefit from specific emotional intelligence competencies.
Research is clear: if your employees work in areas such as sales and customer service, then high emotional intelligence is particularly valuable.
Develop your organisation's emotional intelligence, now
- There are high energy, interactive and practical emotional intelligence workshops. Of particular value to your customer service staff is the one "How to keep your cool with difficult people".
- There is a dynamic keynote speech on emotional intelligence which will get your event buzzing.
- There is 1-1 emotional intelligence coaching for managers and executives.
- There are emotional intelligence CDs, DVDs and books particularly the unique and practical 2 CD set, "How to deal with difficult people WITHOUT GETTING UPSET". Bulk discounts are available for this so all your employees or team members may have their own copy.