Thursday, November 29, 2018

How Employers Measure Emotional Intelligence in Candidates

Kelly asked if I would contribute to her article for HigherEd Jobs.  She did a fantastic job!  To view the original article click here.  Thanks so much, Kelly!



Career News  |  by Kelly A. Cherwin
Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Employers want to know you as a candidate. They not only want to determine if you have the technical aptitude and job specific expertise but if you will be a "fit" within their organizational culture. One way they can do this is by interviewing for emotional intelligence (EI) or sometimes referred to as the emotional quotient (EQ). As researchers Mayer and Salovey state, emotional intelligence is "the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions."

Jennifer Shirkani, CEO and president at Penumbra Group, a firm that provides Talent Management Solutions and a frequent speaker on the topic of emotional intelligence explains why EI is so relevant in today's workplace and important for employers to consider. "The emotional intelligence of employees is directly related to their coachability and often shows their willingness to adapt and be open-minded to feedback and change." Employers are looking for people willing to listen thoughtfully, work collaboratively, and get out of their comfort zone as well as people who make thorough decisions and are good role models. Candidates displaying these skills and abilities through high emotional intelligence are more likely to be viewed more favorably.

According to Shirkani, 46% of new hires fail within 18 months. The common reasons are: the inability to accept feedback, inability to understand/manage emotions, lack of motivation, or wrong temperament for job/work environment. Interviewing for emotional intelligence can potentially avoid these errors in hiring the wrong candidate. In fact, according to a survey, many hiring managers (71%) stated they valued EI in an employee over IQ and (59%) claim that they'd pass up a candidate with a high IQ but low emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence in the workplace consists of three R's says Shirkani:
  • Recognizing and being self-aware. The ability to know your strengths and weaknesses is key.
  • Reading your environment. Having the ability to be situationally aware of what is happening around you is crucial to strengthening your emotional intelligence.
  • Responding appropriately and exercising self-control. Managing your own emotions and trying to understand and respond to others emotions are critical.
As a job seeker, you may ask, "How do employers interview for emotional intelligence?" Shirkani says that employers "use the past to predict the future." This can be done through behavior-based interview questions. Shirkani states that "candidates with a high EQ are more comfortable sharing an experience and are ok with who they are."

How do job seekers highlight their EQ in these behavioral interviews? When an employer asks you a question based on a past experience or situation, think of your CAR. No, not the sports or luxury car that you are dreaming of sitting in your driveway, but instead respond by explaining the Circumstance of the event or situation, describe the Action you took to resolve or improve the circumstance, and then elaborate on the Result that was generated. For example, if you were asked to describe a time that you demonstrated problem-solving skills you could say, "Our office did not have a good system to keep track of invoices, receipts, and expenses. I instituted a filing system that allowed everyone to put receipts and invoices in specific folders which I would then electronically scan and cross check against our credit card system and then file in the appropriate digital dropbox. This process resulted in a reduction of late fees as well as a very satisfied supervisor." 

Other advice for candidates to succeed in an interview? Research the environment and company culture, know your strengths and weaknesses and be comfortable talking about them. People who are afraid to talk about their weaknesses could be a red flag to employers. Instead, discuss the weakness, but most importantly, what you learned from that weakness. And finally, as Shirkani adds, "Do not try to be someone you aren't." 

Good luck in your next interview.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Our Attitude is Gratitude

We at Penumbra Group want to wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend, which hopefully includes an emotionally intelligent family gathering this year.
We are counting our blessings, you among them. We are grateful for our circle of colleagues, wonderful clients, good health, and the opportunity to do the work we love. Thank you for your continued support.  

Thursday, November 15, 2018

This Emotional Intelligence Test Was So Accurate It Was Creepy



I often get asked if emotional intelligence can be measured or tested, and the answer is yes!  There are many different types of assessments out there, but the one we use at Penumbra is called the EQi 2.0.  I came across this great article by Rich Bellis at Fast Company, and thought is a fun narrative about taking the assessment and interpreting the results.  If you would like to take the "creepy test" and receive a 1-hour personal coaching call, click here.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Interview with Jerry Cox: President of Brainier



My guest interview this month is with Jerry Cox, he is the President of Brainier and we met in September at their annual user conference. I was so impressed with his presence throughout the event and the growth of the company under his leadership, I thought he would be a great person to interview. He has some keen insights on connecting with users on a human level in a high tech environment, not an easy task. Welcome, Jerry!

JS: What kind of advice would you offer to other executives for maintaining resiliency in an industry that is constantly changing at a rapid pace? 

JC: A key component of resiliency is staying in touch with the person/group you are advocating for in the market. Having an open line of dialog to understand what challenges they face is crucial to developing solutions. It is so easy for companies to become complacent with success. A byproduct of that complacency being the focus stays on improvements to current products and services which solve yesterday’s problems and neglect the R&D to tackle the challenges of tomorrow. This habit of constantly listening to clients and prospects and, in turn, developing solutions for their changing needs, mixed with an adequate amount of humility will keep an organization responsive and leading the pack. A group lacking this quality is merely making bold and potentially expensive guesses.

JS: In today's world, where do EQ skills (recognize, read, respond) rank in an ideal leadership competency? 

JC: This ties in directly with every organization’s struggle for resiliency in the sense that utilizing these basic EQ qualities has the potential to keep the focus on the drivers of change in a business opportunity. The most desirable companies to work for often repeat the often-quoted Steve Jobs line about listening to employees: "It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do." Brilliant as that is, that responsiveness and openness is only one side of the equation. I do not believe that a leader can be successful over time if they have not mastered the ability to read themselves and others and respond appropriately to a wide variety of issues and situations.

JS: What role does human connection play in user engagement? 

JC: The core of user engagement is “empathy.” A good developer will build a bulletproof platform or system for a user to navigate where they need to go. A great developer will map out the path through that platform using cues to lead the user to success. The difference is empathy. The most successful organizations in nearly every industry approach a new task with the focus on how the technology will empower a user to solve a problem as opposed to building a theoretically superior system.

Part of the customer support training we do internally at Brainier is founded on this empathetic approach. When a user requires a human connection to solve their issue, the least we could do is listen and be prepared as best we can.

This is our simple, yet effective Customer Care Checklist for every incoming call:

1. Make sure the caller takes away more USEFUL information than they brought.
2. Establish a path forward that includes Brainier.
3. Make sure the caller is satisfied with the answer.

It sounds very simple if we consider how many times that actually happens to us personally as consumers, it’s not often. I think EQ has a direct and profound impact on user engagement and the entire customer experience.

JS: How does that translate in a technology-based industry? 

JC: In a technology-based industry, using an empathetic approach is critical because the stakes are higher. Users are very impatient and have higher expectations all the time. At Brainier, the products we are compared to are generally updated monthly, if not sooner. We find that users have almost zero tolerance for products that look potentially out-of-touch to them. This continual dialog is what maintains our relevance with our clients and in the industry.


Jerry Cox, President - Brainier Solutions

Mr. Cox has more than 30 years of general management experience, having worked in several industries including distribution, software, and manufacturing. 

Since 2001, he has been the president of Brainier Solutions, a Minneapolis-based company, which provides technology-based Training and Development products to Corporations World-Wide. Mr. Cox has also held positions in technical sales, sales leadership and executive level leadership throughout his career.

He holds a BBA degree from Cleveland State University and has additional studies in electrical engineering and computer technology. In his spare time, he is an accomplished musician, an avid reader, and offers volunteer leadership on several boards and associations.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Month in a Minute

Clockwise from top right: Upcoming AICPA Women's Global Leadership Summit in NYC; Team picture at the Escape Game, Austin; Wayne Powell, me and Cooper Vittitow of Civitas Senior Living; Coming soon to your fall Thursday night TV lineup...4 Is Enough, Penumbra's new sitcom; Rob Hendricks of Highgate Hotels and me
I am not sure how it is November 1st already, but here we are. October is always a fun month at Penumbra Group because almost the whole team has an October birthday so each year we do something together as a group to celebrate. This year we went to the great city of Austin. We stayed downtown at a cool hotel/residential rental called “The Guild," where we each had our own complete apartment with full kitchen and washer and dryer. We took the opportunity to be together to get some fresh headshots taken by Valerie Fremin and Sid Ceasar. They did a great job, check out Valerie's site here. And our original plan included a downtown Segway tour (something none of us has ever done), but the unusually cold and rainy weather thwarted our plans.

So, at the last minute, we booked an Escape Room. We found out that if you are looking for a special team to uncover the date, time and place of the next terror attack, we are NOT the ones to hire! It was our first time attempting an Escape Room and it was much harder than I thought it was going to be. We were given hints along the way, but much of it comprised of our observation skills as we searched for clues. It was sometimes hard to distinguish between what was an actual clue vs a prop and once we knew something had meaning, trying to determine how to make use of it. It was a fun teambuilding experience and I would recommend it to anyone in the area! Ask for Robert, he was incredible!

Wishing you a great Thanksgiving holiday ahead and hope to see you at one of our upcoming events in Philadelphia, Boston, New York City, Salt Lake City or the Cayman Islands!