Emotional intelligence seen as key to job performance

Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:32pm EDT
 
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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Measuring the emotional intelligence of employees, from their ability to read body language to controlling frustration, could be good for business, according to a new study.

Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) suggest that gauging emotional intelligence may be an indicator of how well employees will perform in their jobs.

"Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive emotions in oneself and in others. (It is) awareness of body language, for example. It's also the ability to control and handle frustration and other emotions," said Ronald Humphrey, a professor of management at that university who carried out the research.

"This study provides scientific evidence to back up the common sense notion that paying attention to moods and emotions is good for business," he added.

The researchers compared decade's worth of previous studies on the role of emotional intelligence. Humphrey said measuring the emotional intelligence of employees could prove to be very beneficial in predicting ability to work well with others, as well as to lead.

The studies analyzed in the research measured emotional intelligence in three ways. The first, referred to as ability-based testing, used multiple choice tests to evaluate emotional awareness. Other studies used situational tests, in which participants are given a social situation and asked to choose the most appropriate emotion that applied.

The third test, referred to as mixed-model emotional competency testing, is broader in definition than the other two and also takes into account factors such as empathy for others.

Humphrey added that emotional intelligence was the second most important factor in job performance, behind cognitive intelligence.

"It also is a factor in how to manage and lead. The study suggests that a culture that values emotional intelligence and understanding emotions is important. People can lead with emotional intelligence and have an emotionally competent team," Murphy added.

(Reporting by Bernd Debusmann Jr, editing by Patricia Reaney)