By Goke Ilesanmi
In August 2010, our National Economic Management Team and the World Bank endorsed a pact with stakeholders in the Nigerian public and private sectors to stem the wave of unemployment in the country. Then, Mr. Richard Sandall, a private sector-development specialist with the World Bank disclosed that 10 per cent of Nigerians were (and are) in gainful employment; 50 per cent in low-paid and insecure employment while 40 per cent were (and are) unemployed.
Naturally, one would be tempted to conclude that employers have an advantage of easily making the right choices from the pool of available job-seekers. But this conclusion is wrong. Getting the right candidates is a challenging and costly task for any business anywhere in the world. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more business owners want to employ. While the economy has not regained its former strength, the number of U.S. job openings rose by nearly 26 per cent between June 2009 and June 2010. The most shocking revelation is that it is not many leaders that will successfully fill these positions.
Marcus Erb, a senior research partner with the Great Place to Work® Institute says, “…Leaders of the best workplaces enjoy greater success. At these organisations, 92 per cent of employees believe their management hires people who fit in well. This percentage falls to 82 per cent for their peer companies. How do they create this level of success? These leaders make the hiring and interview process as much about the match between the organisation’s culture and a candidate’s personality, as about finding the right technical skills and experience for a position. Driven by recruiting philosophies like ‘hire for attitude, train for skill’ and ‘hire our type of people’, the best workplaces invest in extended interview processes, personality assessments, and internal trainings to ensure candidates are given a clear view of the culture and are thoroughly vetted on how they would fit in.”
Beyond the issue of personality, studies indicate that emotional intelligence (EI or EQ) accounts for 15 to 45 per cent of one’s job success, whereas one’s intelligence quotient (IQ) accounts for less than six per cent. In the words of Mike Poskey, vice president of ZERORISK HR, Inc., a Dallas-based HR firm, “In essence, EQ is the pattern of how people’s biases in their thinking lead them to think one thing or choice is better than another, as well as their clarity in differentiating within those biases to exercise clear and sound judgement. Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ) is a term being heard more and more often in human-resource departments and even in executive board rooms.”
Between EQ and personality
How is EQ different from personality, and how has it proved to be capable of affecting the bottom line in the workplace? Well, just wait for the answer to this. Dr. Tim LaHaye, the author of Spirit-Controlled Temperament educates that temperament is the basic impulse of our being that seeks to satisfy our wants, and to properly understand the temperament’s control of our actions and reactions, we need to define three terms temperament, character and personality and carefully make a distinction among them. In Psychology, personality refers to the emotion, thought, and behaviour patterns unique to an individual. Personality influences one’s tendencies, such as a preference for introversion or extroversion. But personality cannot be used to predict EQ. However, EQ can identify both the biases and clarity in one’s thinking patterns that allow them to make good sound decisions, personality only refers to the biases in the behaviour themselves.
Poskey says having a ‘good’ personality does not necessarily imply success in the workplace. He adds that a ‘good’ personality tells you nothing about the fact that the employee can also make errors in judgement due to lack of ‘clarity’ when making decisions within his or her own biases. Poskey asserts that this is why people with varying personality styles can successfully perform the same job. In his words, “An employee with high emotional intelligence can manage his or her own impulses, communicate with others effectively, manage change well, solve problems, and use humour to build rapport in tense situations. These employees also have empathy, remain optimistic even in the face of adversity, and are gifted at educating and persuading in a sales situation and resolving customer complaints in a customer-service role. This ‘clarity’ in thinking and ‘composure’ in stressful and chaotic situations is what separates top performers from weak performers in the workplace.”
EQ and workplace success
Experts say social abilities, that is, abilities that determine how we handle relationships; and personal abilities, that is, abilities that determine how we manage ourselves, etc. outline a set of emotional intelligence qualities that have proved to contribute more to workplace achievements than technical skills and cognitive ability combined.
EQ benefits and findings
According to Freda Turner, Ph.D. with University of Phoenix, USA, in jobs that involve sales and mechanical skills, employees with high EQ are 12 times more productive than employees with low EQ. Research also confirms that insurance sales professionals and account managers with high emotional intelligence are 127 per cent more productive. A Fortune 500 company in financial services in the US proved that its high EQ salespeople produced 18 per cent more than the lower EQ salespeople. One recent study conducted by a Dallas corporation revealed that the productivity difference between the low-scoring emotional intelligence employees and high-scoring emotional intelligence employees is 20 times.
Organisations that cherish success must consider emotional intelligence in their selection process and training. By doing this, organisations can avoid the stress of high employee turnover, with attendant low productivity and eroded profitability.
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GOKE ILESANMI, Managing Consultant/CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is a Certified Public Speaker/Emcee, Communication Specialist, Motivational Speaker, Career Management Coach, Renowned Book Reviewer, Corporate Leadership Expert and Editorial Consultant.
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