Fad Fodder?

By Julie Sturgeon

Will you soon list emotional intelligence (EI) among such catch phrases as “swimming with sharks”? Psychologist and author Daniel Goleman shudders at the mention. After all, in one department’s pilot program he discovered that after one year of coaching and on-the-job practice in self-selected emotional competencies, the results raised eyebrows. Salespeople previously in the 50th percentile improved by 15 percent. Those in the 70th percentile jumped 21 percent. And the 90th-percentile rockets shot up an additional 24 percent.

So after 500 studies spanning hundreds of organizations, the emotional-intelligence guru now says that when you weigh technical and purely cognitive abilities against emotional-intelligence skills, EI ranks twice as important as everything on the other side of the teeter-totter combined.

But this cheese doesn’t stand alone. Consider what Dr. Richard Handley, founder of EQ University (an online testing, training and coaching option for smaller businesses) honed in on in his course-development research:

1. Hiring based on emotional intelligence fit to the sales job decreased one company’s turnover. It previously lost 25 percent of all salespeople hired during their first year, at a cost in lost-training and employment fees of $3 million per year. After the program, first-year losses due to sales “failure” decreased by 92 percent. Not to mention these veterans produced 2.7 times more money than average employees.

“In the past, machinery was an organization’s most important asset. The company could tell you to the dollar how much money they invested in equipment. Emotional intelligence indicators point to the red ink when auditing human beings,” Handley says.

2. Emotional intelligence increases with age. Handley’s highest group was 40 to 49-year-olds. He lacked sufficient numbers above age 50 to form conclusions in that category.

“To speed up, whether we’re talking about a company or a plane, you make one of two choices: reduce the drag or increase the thrust,” says this expert in business administration and licensed mental-health practitioner. In sales, a bigger engine means increasing sales output by hiring more staff as the thrust. But this option burns more fuel because it costs additional money to pay those bodies. “By locating an area of drag – often an emotional-intelligence incompetence – you effect the same performance increase more cost effectively,” he points out.