Is EQ the Answer to Predicting Job Performance Besides IQ?

Is EQ the Answer to Predicting Job Performance Besides IQ?

It does not matter if you are a start-up, a multi-national corporation or a non-profit organization, you want the best people working for you. You want people who can perform on their jobs so that your organizational goals can be turned into tangible results.

For years, studies have shown that intelligence has a direct correlation with performance. One of the earliest research done to support this is the work of Schmidt and Hunter (1998). Their studies found that the correlation between General Mental Ability (GMA) and job performance has a validity of .51. What this simply means is that GMA or Intelligence is highly predictive of job performance. The higher the level of intelligence, the stronger the job performance.

Then enters the concept of Emotional Intelligence (EI), or sometimes known as Emotional Quotient (EQ). In 1995, Daniel Goleman, a psychologist and science journalist, often known as the father of Emotional Intelligence, popularized the concept of EI through his book, "Emotional Intelligence". Goleman's EI model outlines five main constructs namely, Self-awareness, Self-regulation, Social Skills, Empathy, and Motivation. Goleman's research of nearly 200 large global companies revealed that effective leaders are distinguished by a high degree of emotional intelligence. Technical skills and IQ do matter but emotional intelligence is twice as important for jobs at all levels. Studies have also shown that there is a strong link between emotional intelligence and business bottom line results.

Another strong advocate who believes that Emotional Intelligence is highly related to job performance is Dr. Travis Bradberry, award winning coauthor of the No. 1 best selling book, "Emotional Intelligence 2.0". Dr. Bradberry's research reveals that EQ is so critical to success that it accounts for 58 percent of performance in all types of jobs. Dr. Bradberry's studies also found that 90 percent of high performers are also high in EQ while only 20 percent of low performers are high in EQ. He concluded that people who develop their EQ tend to be successful on the job.

Well, it seems like EQ is a pretty good predictor of job performance. But hang on! Before you start investing in some kind of EQ tools, here is another interesting research which argued that emotional intelligence can help predict job performance to some extent but not as great as some has believed it to be. In 2015, psychologists, Dana Joseph, Jing Jin, Daniel Newman and Ernest O’Boyle comprehensively analyzed the data of more than 10 studies that had previously examined the link between emotional intelligence and job performance. The meta-analytic evidence shows that there is little-to-no incremental validity of emotional intelligence in predicting job performance. The correlation between emotional intelligence and job performance is only a mere .29. Which means emotional intelligence can predict only 8.4 percent of a worker's performance while General Mental Ability or IQ on the other hand, correlates strongly with job performance and can predict 26 percent of one’s performance at work.

So where do we go from here? Should we put our trust in using EQ as a differentiator in selecting and developing our people or maybe we can just totally ignore it and stick to the good old trusted IQ method.

Whether emotional intelligence is strongly correlated to job performance, this debate will continue and more studies will be done in an attempt to prove for or against it. Putting scientific evidence aside, it is somewhat safe to assume that a setup with more high EQ people is likely to create an engaging and conducive work environment than one that is occupied by highly narcissistic personnel. So perhaps EQ does have a place in affecting job performance whether directly or indirectly.

What has been your experience using IQ and EQ to predict job performance? Is there a significant correlation? I'll like to hear your views. Leave a comment below.

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