It is common to hear people say, “He was so nice” about someone they just met. When we categorize people (“He’s nice,” “She’s a jerk,” “He’s an extrovert”), that definition ends up serving as a filter in our brains. This filter causes us to remember certain things and forget or deny other things about a person. So, when we think someone is nice, we ignore or rationalize situations that do not fit the definition.
For example, we often see people being interviewed on the news asserting that they just cannot believe their neighbor committed a horrible crime. The words usually are, “He couldn’t have done that, he was always such a great neighbor.” The filter we internally create often causes us to let down our guard and trust people with things that are valuable to us. This frequently happens during the hiring process as well.
Too often hiring managers rely on static tools to describe and assess people. When we use a static tool, like a resume, to develop our understanding of people, we will always be left with information that does not hold up under intense pressure.
What Has to Change?
Our starting point must be an accurate understanding of people. People are more difficult to understand than finance, game theory, or the law. We have to abandon the commonly used, elementary methods (like going with our gut feeling because “we just know they will be a great fit for our company,”) if we are going to improve our effectiveness in hiring, training, promoting, motivating, and developing people and teams.
To maximize our effectiveness when hiring, we must avoid thinking in ways that categorize individuals based solely on their everyday behavior. We must include an approach that incorporates the ways different conditions affect people at different times. Ultimately, we must remember that the behaviors of individuals are infinite. Feelings can cause people to act in ways that are totally unpredictable and explainable.
When we think about people this way, we will know them more accurately and we will better understand how we affect them by what we do and don’t do, which helps us be more effective when managing them. Understanding people in this way is to understand their emotional intelligence.
Emotional Intelligence Is Key
A true assessment of emotional intelligence unlocks the motivating factors of each employee to assess their performance capabilities and current productivity in their assigned role. When an employee is placed in a role that requires they use skills that are core to their being, they will thrive and produce for your company. However, if an employee is placed in a role where they are unqualified or required to use skills that are unnatural to them, this individual will be drained of energy and motivation. The absence of motivation leads to de-motivation, hurting productivity.
There are many hiring assessment tools available to help you make effective hiring and development decisions. Make sure the tool you choose is measuring emotional intelligence, not personality. Add this to your hiring process and you will be armed with a tool that will help you objectively understand people and ultimately assisting you in hiring the best fit for your company.