Sunday, July 26, 2009

Emotionally Charged - HR practices

Does EQ matter?
Key learnings:
The hype about hiring individuals with high EQ may be just that
But research shows it that organisations have to offer their employees emotional support

With all this hype about emotional intelligence, emotional quotient or EQ is fast becoming an essential hiring feature. As much as organisations strive to hire the best, the focus on hiring those with high EQ is equally high. One behavioral analyst, fittingly questions, “do emotions actually belong to the workplace?” This week’s mailer reviews the excitement about EQ to understand and tag its true worth.

Is there a need for EQ?
Trying to set up the connection between emotions and decision-making, a group of behavioural scientists studied the case of the railroad worker who gained instant fame when he survived a railroad barb piercing him. As miraculous as his surviving was, an unknown fact about the incident is that even though the worker’s intellect was intact, he lost his ability to decide after the incident. An excerpt from the concluded study is as follows.
"Such patients develop severe damages in personal, professional and social decision making, in spite of otherwise largely preserved intellectual abilities... After the damage, they had difficulties planning their workday and future, and difficulties in choosing friends, partners and activities.. ." This study in itself provides evidence of the role emotions play in decision-making. Therefore, hiring those with high EQ is justified in upping an organisation’ s emotional intellect.

Equally important is that organisations understand how a change in workforce demographics almost decides importance of hiring and developing emotionally stable employees.

Demographic indulgence

A few demographic trends worth reviewing include:

  1. Late marriages
  2. Increased number of divorcees and single parents
  3. Increased number of households supported by unmarried individuals
  4. Increased number of singles

India is fast accepting the above trends, which are more pronounced in the West. These trends underline an increase in the number of individuals either living alone or in nuclear families.

Those who live alone or in families where members are either children or elderly parents crave companionship at work. Unlike normal families where individual emotional needs are met, unsatisfied emotional needs are carried to work. Thus, these individuals will try to build family connections at work for which they will indulge in emotional expressions.

Also, when ‘loners’ spend most of their waking hours at work, it is natural for them to network both professionally and socially with their colleagues. Therefore, it is not unfounded that these individuals do not have a life outside. Also, these individuals expect that their employers address their professional requirements and gratify their emotional needs too. Although this requirement adds to the expectations organisations must meet, providing emotional support to employees can be a win-win deal. Here is how.

The other side of the story

One of the biggest challenges organisations face is keeping their talent in-house and happy. If satisfying emotional needs can act as a motivation combined with retention tool, organisations can only gain by providing emotional support at work. But if meeting this requirement is going to be a permanent duty, then hiring individuals with high EQ cannot alone satisfy it. As one behavioural scientist says, “It takes one high-strung individual to test the EQ of an otherwise emotionally stable team”. Therefore, the best way out is to organise regular EQ development initiatives.

When employees are equipped to negotiate better, think and work creatively, decision making skills with integrity, manage stress and simply get along EQ is developed. Although a tall order, a bunch of common soft-skills programmes, run well and regularly can do the trick. Emotions have a rightful slot at workplace is confirmed, the next concern arising is, “do all organisations require employees with high EQ’?”

Emotionally balanced

Demographic trends do suggest why organisations must beef up their emotional intelligence. Is the need for hiring individuals with emotional intelligence so pressing that individuals without it are not hired at all?

Those with high EQ understand how their feelings affect them and those around them. They can decide the influence and impact of their feelings. This awareness helps them better modulate their conduct. Individuals with low EQ give in to their feelings easily and therefore experience more emotional outbursts. Depending on team and organisation size, nature of tasks and business, and communication flows, it is for organisations to discover whether they want to hire high EQ employees and how many. However, too much importance on EQ as a hiring feature is not justified as it is internally impelled.

The EQ hype is not hyperbole. Organisations need to up their emotional intelligence. But they do so at a relaxed and comfortable pace. As helpful as employees with high EQ are, those with low EQ may not be troublemakers as currently presumed.

Ref: TheManageMentor.

No comments: