Topic: Emotional Intelligence, Job Performance, Teams
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (JUL 2012)
Article: Emotional Intelligence, Teamwork Effectiveness, and Job Performance:
The Moderating Role of Job Context
Authors: C.I.C.C. Farh, M. Seo, P.E. Tesluk
Reviewed By: Ben Sher
Are you in touch with your inner feelings about emotional intelligence? Do you love the idea? Hate the idea? Does it make you angry? In any case, there is good news. New
research by Farh, Seo, and Tesluk (2012) helps bolster our understanding of emotional intelligence by identifying situations in which it is useful and situations in which it may be detrimental.
Emotional intelligence is the somewhat controversial but intriguing idea that people can monitor feelings to achieve positive workplace outcomes. People with a high level of emotional intelligence have the ability to successfully identify their own feelings as well as the feelings of other people. They allow this knowledge to strategically guide their behavior, which may result in workplace productivity. But does emotional intelligence always lead to positive results? Research suggests that it may depend on the circumstances.
This study used a sample of 212 young professionals and their supervisors, and found
that emotional intelligence was related to improved job performance only when the job
involved a high level of managerial work. When jobs included little managerial work,
emotional intelligence was actually associated with lower job performance.
Why did this happen? The researchers propose that this relationship is due to trait
activation theory. This theory suggests that any connection between traits and job
performance is more likely to occur when environmental cues in the workplace show
that the particular trait is valued. For example, if we find that conscientiousness is
related to better performance at certain types of jobs, we’d be more likely to observe
this relationship if employees were working in an organization that consistently
espoused the importance of being careful and organized.
In a managerial context, interpersonal communication and people skills are valued.
In this setting, emotional intelligence assumes increased importance, and results in
better teamwork and better job performance. If the job does not involve managerial
duties, people skills are not as highly valued. The authors explain that in this situation,
people with high levels of emotional intelligence may overemphasize the importance of
emotional cues in situations where they are not meant to be important.
So whether you love it or hate it, emotional intelligence seems to play a role in
workplace success. Research that defines the limitations of that role equips
professionals with the ability to decide if emotional intelligence is useful in a specific
context. Now that should make us all feel good.
human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management