Emotional Intelligence: Are we exaggerating?

A critical overview of emotional intelligence after the 23rd Personnel Management Congress.

Maybe there are those of you who know as Psytech Turkey, we have participated in the 23rd Congress of People Management. I would like to take this opportunity to open a small parenthesis to thank our colleagues and customers who make the conference even more enjoyable with their existence and let me close the parenthesis.

One of the opening speeches of the Congress was made by CEO of Eczacıbaşı, Erdal Karamercan. On the practical side, this was an important talk to represent the people who had to persuade them for the projects in their minds, and the participants showed great interest in the session by giving the right to this important conversation.

Erdal Karamercan, in his colorful presentation, stated that the primary success factor for business life is emotional intelligence (EQ), whereas cognitive intelligence (IQ?) can only be considered as a secondary factor. He underlined that this was critical and decisive, especially for managerial roles. One of the points on which he based his view was the emphasis that the researches have been done. He highlighted the main lines of his ideas by the motto as “IQ helps graduating you out of school and EQ helps to graduate you from life “.

The weakest part I think of Karamercan’s presentation was that, as is common, use of the saying that “researches show”, but not the concrete research of what was referred to. The fact that Karamercan shared the summary information of these investigations could have strengthened the content of his speech. This would both increase the momentary effect of the presentation as well as the professional curiosity of people like me who practice the psychometric assessment-evaluation as a profession beyond a personal hobby. Because as a person who follows the current business-oriented psychometric assessment-evaluation research and studies with great curiosity, I can say that the majority of the researches I have read shows the opposite of this claim. However, there may be something that I might have jumped, and it would have been very enjoyable to see them.

I think it would be useful to explain my problem with a few research at this point.

The research named “The Validity and Utility of Selection Methods in Personnel Psychology: Practical and Theoretical Implications of 85 Years of Research Findings” by Schmidt and Hunter in 1998 deeply influenced both the academic community and the HR practices in the field of business-oriented assessment and evaluation tools and methods. It went beyond that and gave them a new direction. This huge and cult academic study, which included a meta-analysis of 85 years, showed that the primary factor in both work performance and educability was cognitive intelligence. Personality factors were of course important. But both the more methodical and relatively easy measurement of cognitive intelligence and the higher correlation with job performance and educability resulted in the interpretation of the measurement of personality factors as an additional, supporting element.

A similar study by Robertson and Smith published in 2001, Personnel Selection Methods, also pointed to very close results. Cognitive intelligence was also the primary business performance factor by capturing a higher correlation rate than the previous study.

What about more recent research?

The following research was conducted in 2015: A Meta-Analysis of the Relationship between Individual Assessments and Job Performance. This research was published in the American Journal of Applied Psychology in 2015. The date of construction is 2014.

In particular, the research focused on the assessment center and the assessment tool in which the assessment tool and the factor predominantly predict the subsequent business performance of the managers at the managerial level. Again, without a surprise, this study showed that cognitive intelligence was the strongest relationship with managerial work performance in a similar way as was done previously.

I would also like to eliminate a possible risk area. Of all these, it should not be concluded that emotional intelligence is a trivial factor. Emotional intelligence is a very important and decisive factor in job performance. In particular, the level of destruction created by people with low levels of emotional intelligence can be very high. We see this clearly in the Assessment Center projects we conduct. The influence of these people on their large areas, including other people, has a great effect. These impacts also pose a significant threat to the workplaces and wellbeing of the workforce as well as the work performance and efficiency of the units and organizations. It is argued that emotional intelligence is the most important factor to leave behind cognitive intelligence for business performance and that this view is supported by research. It is emphasized that the diversification of the evaluation tools is the healthiest method when all of the above studies are detailed. So actually; it is the most appropriate and recommended approach to measure the combination of factors in which emotional intelligence and cognitive intelligence are involved. In order to do so, we have included our Assessment Center in all of these practices; we construct a structure that will include Reasoning Tests, Personality Inventories, Business Simulation Exercises and Competency Based Interviews.

On the other hand, emotional intelligence, as Mr. Karamercan pointed out very accurately, is a more difficult variable to measure. It’s not impossible, but it’s harder. It is measured by self-assessment tools, predominantly personality inventories, and thus measurements are indirect, at the same time relatively more expensive. In addition, it is possible to improve their skills in the field of emotional intelligence and to enable them to learn to manage these aspects by increasing their awareness.

Cognitive intelligence is more stable. Young adulthood occurs at a great extent until it is reached and then becomes stable. It is almost impossible to make significant improvements in people’s cognitive intelligence. Therefore, it is very critical that it is measured when recruited. Directly measured by time tests. Thanks to the norm group comparisons, the point, and the commentary area are narrow and the results are much more useful and economical.

One of the main areas of work and responsibility of human resources professionals is the structuring of assessment and evaluation processes. Incorrect recruitment and promotion decisions are doing as much damage to companies as they do. The fact that we cannot manage what we do not measure must always be in our heads.

From this perspective; it is reasonable to use the other tools to prioritize and prioritize cognitive intelligence, which is a higher, more useful, cheaper, and more highly correlated variable with job performance. The global best practices, including Psylabs projects, are mainly based on this measurement logic, which is fed from academic references and practical applications. It is to design and implement them in the right way by making them compatible with our culture.