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Complaining Business Owners & One of my favorite books


08Jan 2007

As I work with more and more business owners, as well as meet over lunch with friends who live in the business world, an increasing complaint I hear is the inability to find good quality employees. I have heard the following statements recently:

“I am amazed at the poor quality of people who are applying for jobs. I can’t find anyone who actually wants to work.”

“I would like to find someone who understands financial statements, can use Excel, and that I don’t have to sit with to walk through projects one step at a time.”

“Most of the people I have hired in the last year have turned out to have major personal problems – they are divorced and have serious problems with their kids, they smoke and are overweight, or they have just declared bankruptcy.”

My “Soapbox”: A major challenge for businesses today is the lack of quality employees in the marketplace. And the issue is not related to a lack of knowledge or education. The problem is the lack of needed character qualities.

As a result, I believe businesses’ ability to grow and prosper will not be limited by lack of business opportunities but the inability to grow one’s business due to a lack of quality employees. We are now experiencing the long-term results of a poor educational system and the misfocus of parents on having “happy kids” rather than focusing on character development.

These issues intersect with one of my favorite books, Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. (I’m currently on a theme that the best books aren’t necessarily the most recent.) Goleman states that American employers report over half of their employees lack the motivation to keep learning and improving in their job. Forty percent are not able to work cooperatively with their colleagues and less than 20% have the self-discipline to complete the requirements of their jobs.

Goleman goes on to demonstrate that intelligence (as assessed by IQ) accounts for only 4% to 25% of job success. He goes on to show the five components of emotional intelligence are far more related to career success (contributing between 50% to 75% of the variance for superior performing employees.) These five components (followed by their subcomponents) are:

*Self-awareness
-emotional awareness
-accurate self-awareness
-self-confidence
*Self-regulation
-self-control
-trustworthiness
-conscientiousness
-adaptability
-innovation
*Motivation
-achievement drive
-commitment
-initiative
-optimism
*Empathy
-understanding others
-developing others
-service orientation
-leveraging diversity
-political awareness
*Social skills
-influence
-conflict management
-leadership
-collaboration and cooperation
-team capabilities

Each of these skills continue to develop over our lifespan and also can be taught (and learned). If you haven’t had the privilege of reading Goleman’s book (or other good books on emotional intelligence), I would strongly encourage you to do so.

Practical applications of this issue include:

  1. work on developing and growing in these areas yourself;
  2. make these skills topics of conversation and focus in your family relationships;
  3. use an assessment of these emotional intelligence skills in your hiring and promotion process (either informally or use some of the standardized assessment tools developed to assess emotional intelligence; [however, note the assessment of EQ is still developing and its validity is being debated among professionals.]
  4. consider training your key business managers in these areas (probably through a business coach).

I am doing some informal work in this area locally – using my network of relationships to link employers with individuals seeking employment who are known to demonstrate high EQ. I am also trying to figure out a model of how to make the assessment of emotional intelligence scaleable for employers in their hiring processes. If you have thoughts, personal experience, or suggestions, I would love to hear them.

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