As General Manager of Southern Scape in Huntsville, AL, Denny Langston has learned the hard way what can happen when well-intentioned recruiting efforts fail. After losing his fair share of team members to the dreaded revolving door of turnover, Langston knew he had to get serious about ramping up Southern Scape’s recruiting efforts. Still, it wasn’t until he began to work with LandOpt Success Coach Glenn Bertha that he was able to view recruiting from an entirely different perspective. “We put a lot of emphasis on skills,” Denny recalls, “how to find skills to fill certain roles. I think we missed the boat.” With this realization and Glenn’s help, Langston and his team began to shift their gaze from the tip of the recruiting iceberg – skill set, IQ, and certifications – to the limitless possibilities dwelling below the surface. What they discovered was eye-opening: there was more to a prospective team member than what they presented on paper and during the interview – often far more.
Langston and the Southern Scape team will be among the first to acknowledge that putting the wrong person in a role will cost time and money and inhibit growth. The turnover that results from poor recruiting negatively impacts the bottom line, and it also negatively impacts productivity, the customer experience, and team morale. Statistics show 46% of new employees will fail within eighteen months of being hired. Most of the time, these employees fail because of poor attitudes, but there is one factor that comes in at a close second and is a major contributor to poor attitude: lack of emotional intelligence.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
In their book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Travis Bradberry and Jean Graves define emotional intelligence as “the ability to recognize and understand emotions in (oneself) and others, and the ability to use this awareness to manage (one’s) behavior and relationships.” The term emotional intelligence originated in the 1960s in a scholarly article and experienced a renaissance in the early 1990s with the work of researchers Peter Salovey and John Mayer, and a book of the same name by Daniel Goleman a few years later.
Why is EI Important to Recruiting?
Multiple studies link high emotional intelligence to both personal and career success. In fact, these studies clearly illustrate that EQ – emotional quotient – is more important to effective recruiting than both IQ and work experience combined. Simply put, people who exhibit high levels of emotional intelligence are more likely to perform better in their roles and stay with their companies for the long term than their less-emotionally-intelligent colleagues. Emotional intelligence is so paramount to Southern Scape’s recruiting efforts that the company has implemented the LandOpt recruitment process, extensive, eleven-step recruiting guide. As Glenn explains, “The purpose of this involved process is to answer two critical questions: How would the prospective team member fit in the company culture, and what does that person bring to the table emotionally?”
What is Involved?
Five primary markers of emotional intelligence – self-awareness, motivation, empathy, social skills, and self-regulation – serve as strong indicators of whether a prospective team member will thrive in a business and positively impact its growth and profitability. Identifying these markers can be achieved in a variety of ways, including following a targeted recruiting process like the one Southern Scape employs. Langston personally finds some methods more impactful than others. “We started implementing the things LandOpt recommends,” he says, “like having two to three in-person interviews, using an AVA (personality assessment), and holding a social at the end of the recruiting process.” While Langston readily admits people often find the idea of the social funny, he maintains that it is an indispensable part of the process. “When we get the recruit out of the conference room into a casual setting, we can learn a lot about that person that we couldn’t during the interview.” Additionally, the social allows him to “hone in on making sure that culture is coming in the door and staying.” After every social, there is one critical question he and his team never fail to ask: “Would we go on a road trip with this person?” If the answer is yes, they extend an offer. If it is no, they cut their losses and move on.
What About Low EI?
Prospective and existing team members with low emotional intelligence struggle to deal with stress, to overcome obstacles and resolve conflict, and to effectively meet the needs of coworkers and customers. Low-EI team members are predominantly negative, tend to blame others for their own shortcomings and failed initiatives, and feel entitled to certain levels of authority and autonomy within the business. They often procrastinate, fail to follow through with tasks, and present themselves as overly sensitive or dramatic when called to the carpet for their counterproductive behaviors. Because low-EI team members are costly in terms of time, money, and resources, it is essential to weed them out during the recruiting process, preferably as early as possible.
Emotionally intelligent people make better employees because they make sound decisions based on facts and careful evaluations that take into consideration the views and perspectives of others. They connect with others emotionally, which helps to build trust. People with high EI work well under pressure and are effective communicators. When looking to assemble a team of capable employees that readily work toward common goals within the framework of a pre-determined culture, look no further than emotional intelligence. Glenn’s coaching is clear: EI is arguably the single most critical variable in choosing the right team member for every role in the business.