What’s Your Company’s EQ?
By Dr. Jarik Conrad
Assessing and implementing emotional intelligence in the workplace.
You are the vice president at a
successful hotel chain. You have just arrived at the office Monday
morning faced with a difficult dilemma. You need to decide what to
do about Peter, the director of sales at one of your locations.
Peter began his career as an associate in the hotel’s customer
relations department 12 years ago, and worked his way up through the
ranks. He is a smart, dedicated employee who often works long hours
– and it shows in the company’s results. The hotel is enjoying a
record year and is top in sales among the chain in the state; but
there is one problem. Peter has trouble controlling his emotions.
He has frequent outbursts and often times talks down to people. His
peers hate working with him and one of his promising direct reports
has threatened to quit – again. What should you do?
If you are like many people in your
position, you try to ignore the issue because Peter has had such a
positive impact on the bottom line. The problem with that course of
action, or inaction, is that the problem rarely goes away, and it
generally gets worse. If you do not deal with this right away, you
may be unable to attract top talent. You may lose several high
potential employees. Customers could decide to do business with
someone else. People might hold back their creativity for fear of
being humiliated. There could be disputes that result in costly
This is a common challenge in corporate America because individuals
are routinely promoted for their technical skills with little regard
for their ability to work with and through people. Such individuals
describe themselves as logical and objective. They are often proud
of their ability to get things done without paying too much
attention to people’s feelings. Moreover, many performance
evaluation systems reinforce their bad behavior. The systems
capture what gets accomplished, but often fall short on
evaluating how the job is done.
For many business leaders dealing with this issue, once the behavior
becomes too obvious to be ignored, it comes down to an ultimatum …
the troubled employee must shape up, or be terminated. Well, it
does not have to be this way. There are tactics to that will help
prevent these problems in the first place.
Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to recognize and manage
one’s emotions, while simultaneously recognizing and effectively
responding to the emotions of others. This concept took the
business world by storm in the mid-to-late ’90s after the release of
Daniel Goleman’s book on the subject, but it has been sharply
criticized in some circles since its time in the sun. One reason
for this backlash is claims by some proponents that EI was the
cure-all for the world’s problems. While this is not a true
statement, imagine a leader without it – cold, disrespectful, rigid,
unforgiving, and unpredictable. Who would want to work for or live
with that person?
EI has also been criticized because people fell into the “either/or”
trap, which questioned whether EI or IQ was the key to success. Too
many people have discussed these constructs as though they are
mutually exclusive. From a practical perspective, the recipe for
success includes significant amounts of both ingredients. In fact,
EI better enables people to take advantage of their IQ. Imagine an
individual with high levels of both—intelligent, optimistic,
flexible, respectful and caring. Who would not want to work for or
live with a person like that?
Of the greatest aspects of EI is that it can be learned. Your
employees who want to improve their EI skills can do so, and you can
help. Here are some ways to improve emotional intelligence in your
1. Incorporate EI into your hiring processes.
The first step to implement emotional intelligence in your
organization is to develop interview questions designed to assess
self-awareness, interpersonal skills, stress management,
adaptability, optimism and level of happiness. This is important
because it is better and cheaper to be proactive on the front end
than reactive once an individual with attitude problems is hired.
These questions will also help you to set appropriate behavioral
expectations for any aspiring candidate. Some examples include:
What has been your most stressful work experience? How did you
manage your stress?
Tell me about a time when your ability to empathize with
customer or co-worker enabled you to solve a challenging
2. Assess the emotional intelligence of your leaders, and future
Since everybody is different with a unique set of challenges, an
assessment, such as the Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQi),
the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional
Intelligence Test (MSCEIT), or the Emotional Competence Inventory (ECI)
would be ideal to pinpoint specific areas of opportunity for
leaders and aspiring leaders. The EQi provides a good sense of how
people assess their own EI, the MSCEIT measures ones EI abilities,
and the ECI measures how others assess one’s EI.
3. Ensure your performance appraisals consider how the job
Reinforce to employees, especially leaders, the importance of
interacting with others effectively. Help them to understand how to
maximize their contributions without minimizing the contributions of
others. This can be accomplished through ensuring a significant
weight is attributed to items like communication, teamwork and
4. Make emotional intelligence a cornerstone of your succession
Along with the standard technical and educational requirements,
document the “soft” criteria necessary for effective performance in
each key position in your organization. You can accomplish this
through asking job incumbents what it takes to be effective in their
jobs; the skills not included on the job descriptions.
You no longer have to ignore behavioral issues in your organization
for fear of losing highly skilled employees. Infusing all levels of
your organization with emotional intelligence will dramatically
increase the likelihood of having a great combination—people who do
the right things, while doing things right.
Read other articles and learn more
[This article is available at no-cost, on a non-exclusive basis.
Contact PR/PR at 407-299-6128 for details and