Friday, 2 August 2013

EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT Is Workplace EQ More Important than IQ?

Back in the late 80s, I traveled often to work using the Jalan Ampang stretch or as they would called it, the Ambassadors Row which has and still is notoriously known for its horrendous traffic jam.  However, there was this one morning, during the usual rush hour, when I noticed this mustachiod Malay traffic police officer standing in the middle of the road directing the traffic. Despite the stressful condition he was in, we could see he was enjoying his work.  He had a very pleasant countenance on his face and always seemed to have a smile for every motorist.  If a car happened to stop infront of him, once in a while, he would bend down to the vehicle to wish the driver, "Selamat pagi, Encik". It came a time when motorists would honk to greet him in return, or give him the thumbs up.  He became such an iconic figure in Jalan Ampang that Malay Mail ran a front page coverage on him.  After a couple of years, we noticed that he was no longer assigned for duty in that area anymore and I believe many of the motorists missed him.  By being cheerful, he had inadvertently helped motorists to de-stress and most important of all, in control of his behaviour when under trying conditions. This is what EQ is all about.

In commercial undertakings, marketing personnel need to meet deadline, sales personnel  need to meet their sales quota and customer service personnel need to work well under stressful condition especially when dealing with irate customers.  All the degrees and MBAs in the world are of no use if these people don't possess a strong EQ.

A new survey executed by CareerBuilder released information stating “71 percent of employers say they value Emotional Intelligence over IQ.”

This rising trend of placing such a huge emphasis on Emotional Intelligence, particularly in the workplace, is something that has been gaining momentum for some time now. The term Emotional Intelligence or sometimes better known as EQ, became monumental in the 1990s thanks to Daniel Goleman’s book; Emotional Intelligence, but the concepts that are the foundations of EQ have existed for decades, often called “social intelligence” or simply “interpersonal skills.” Employers have been paying increasing amounts of attention to how EQ benefits the workplace environment, and as a result of observations and numerous studies released on the importance of EQ, employers are beginning to change their focus.

The survey was conducted in August of 2011 and measured responses from over 2,600 hiring managers and human resource professionals from across the nation. The survey revealed:
  • “34% of hiring managers said they are placing greater emphasis on emotional intelligence when hiring and promoting employees post-recession”   
  • “71% said they value emotional intelligence in an employee more than IQ”
  • “59 percent of employers would not hire someone who has a high IQ but low EQ”
  • “75 percent are more likely to promote an employee with a high EQ over one with a high IQ”
Now, this data doesn’t mean; college students, throw out your text books because grades don’t matter. You still need to have the skillset to get you to the places you want to go, but EQ gives you the ability to rise above and become a star within those places, which IQ does not. According to a blog written by Daniel Goleman “IQ stands as a proxy for the cognitive complexity a person can process, it should predict what technical expertise that person can master. Technical expertise, in turn, represents the major set of threshold competencies that determine whether a person can get and keep a job in a given field.” With this said Goleman makes the argument that “emotional and social skills give people advantages in realms where such abilities make the most difference, like love and leadership.  EQ trumps IQ in “soft” domains, where intellect matters relatively little for success. Another such arena where EQ matters more than IQ is in performance at work, when comparing people with roughly the same educational backgrounds…”

But if theory simply isn’t enough for you, survey participants gave the following reasons, based on their observations in the workplace, as to why they place a higher value on EQ versus IQ
  • “Employees with high EQ are more likely to stay calm under pressure”
  • “They know how to solve conflict effectively”
  • “They are empathetic to their team members and react accordingly”
  • “They lead by example”
  • “They tend to make more thoughtful business decisions.”
TRACOM’s Dr. Casey Mulqueen says “Evidence on the personal and professional benefits of EQ is becoming clearer and overwhelming, and employers are recognizing this through their hiring and promotion practices. What matters now is for people to learn about EQ and start practicing it. Many of us have spent our entire academic and professional lives honing our intellects and technical abilities. Unfortunately this has been at the expense of our emotional intelligence. Just as people have dedicated practice and effort to their educations and careers, they can do the same with EQ. Small daily changes will turn into well-learned habits, with practice. And this will help people move to the next level in their careers and personal lives.”

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