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Guys, I need help...I think I've dug myself a hole on the wrong battlefield.

I was asked (along with all other managers) to participate in a EQ test to determine my emotional intelligence. I did about seven questions, then bailed. It just seemed like a lot of nonsense and asked things that had nothing to do with work behaviours (am I affectionate, am I likeable, how do I feel about such and such, etc.).

Then I got a call from HR suggesting that I complete it and telling me "everybody else had." Fine, I took the hint and did the test, omitting those questions I genuinely could not answer (I had no idea what the right answer was). I got another call telling me that I made the test statistically invalid and I had to do it again. I told them I would if I could, but I had answered the questions as best I could, and to respond for the mere sake of responding would not improve the statistical validity of the test.

Now I'm fighting a battle on the wrong hill over something I consider incredibly stupid. I could have just faked my way through the test or hit random responses but I have a nasty stubborn ethical streak that won't let me do that. I really did give the test my very best shot, but now I may be in trouble.

As an aside, I resent any invasive psych tests that don't focus on my behaviours as a manager. Judge me on what I actually do and deliver, not on what some current pop-psych test says is in my head.

In short, I'm pretty sure of two things:

1. EQ=BS
2. I've handled the situation poorly.

What should I do now? Why do EQ inventory tests not focus on behaviours or outcomes, the standards by which managers are normally judged? Why was the test so difficult for me, and apparently easy for others?

jhack's picture

Take the test. Answer as best you can.

You are indeed fighting the wrong battle. What, after all, could they do with the results? Your antagonism is undoubtedly seen as an unwillingness to grow and change. That is much worse than anything the test could reveal.

Explain that you now have a better understanding of the test, and that you would be happy to take it.

John

vinnie2k's picture

[quote="ascott"]Guys, I need help...I think I've dug myself a hole on the wrong battlefield.

I was asked (along with all other managers) to participate in a EQ test to determine my emotional intelligence. I did about seven questions, then bailed. It just seemed like a lot of nonsense and asked things that had nothing to do with work behaviours (am I affectionate, am I likeable, how do I feel about such and such, etc.).
[/quote]

Your personality affects your behaviours. Some organizations actually do try to go beyond behaviour and scan the depths of your soul. You can also view this as another form of DiSC or MBTI testing.

[quote]
Then I got a call from HR suggesting that I complete it and telling me "everybody else had." Fine, I took the hint and did the test, omitting those questions I genuinely could not answer (I had no idea what the right answer was).
[/quote]

I think that's part of the problem: there's no right answer (it should have said that at the beginning of the "test"). It's not a test like the IQ test; consider it more like a survey. No right, no wrong, just honest answers from you.

[quote]
I got another call telling me that I made the test statistically invalid and I had to do it again. I told them I would if I could, but I had answered the questions as best I could, and to respond for the mere sake of responding would not improve the statistical validity of the test.

Now I'm fighting a battle on the wrong hill over something I consider incredibly stupid. I could have just faked my way through the test or hit random responses but I have a nasty stubborn ethical streak that won't let me do that. I really did give the test my very best shot, but now I may be in trouble.
[/quote]
Again, don't take it as a test. Give it your best shot not trying to determine what the correct answer is. Just go with *your* answer.

[quote]
As an aside, I resent any invasive psych tests that don't focus on my behaviours as a manager.
[/quote]
I think that's unfortunately not up to you to decide, your company gets to decide that. Put this on your list of things you dislike about your company, and listen to the interviewing series ;-)

[quote]
Judge me on what I actually do and deliver, not on what some current pop-psych test says is in my head.
[/quote]
That's one way of looking at things - and M&M would probably agree with you.

[quote]
In short, I'm pretty sure of two things:

1. EQ=BS
[/quote]
Your company thinks it isn't.

[quote]
2. I've handled the situation poorly.

What should I do now?
[/quote]
Re-take the "survey", bearing in mind that what they're looking for is your answer, not *the* answer.

[quote]
Why do EQ inventory tests not focus on behaviours or outcomes, the standards by which managers are normally judged?
[/quote]
"Normally"? Not everyone agrees with what M&M say.

[quote]
Why was the test so difficult for me, and apparently easy for others?[/quote]
Because you thought you were taking an IQ test.

Good luck!

asteriskrntt1's picture

There are no RIGHT answers on these tests. It is like a recipe. You throw in all your individual ingredients (your choices) and they cook it and find out what kind of meal you are. You might be surprised at what you are (in a positive way).

It is really no big deal. It does not pigeon hole you, it is a tool to help you grow. Or send me the link. I will do it for you. I am always up for a free profiling. :wink:

*RNTT

bflynn's picture

The thing about most of these tests - the right answer is whatever you believe it is. If you're not sure, take your best shot at it. It can feel strange, but the good news is that you usually have 100% correctness.

And your instincts about fighting the wrong battle are correct too - you shouldn't be fighting a battle at all! I recommend an apology to the person in charge of the tests, arrange to take the test immediately and then turn your attention back to pounding out results.

Brian

ashdenver's picture

I was once asked to take a four hour test of a similar nature. The theory was that the senior staff would select some of the top performers on the team, have them take the test to establish a baseline and then administer the test to all future applicants to determine their suitability for the job and work environment.

Seriously, I have no idea why an employer would want to know if I'd prefer reading to young children or driving a fire engine through traffic at high speeds -- obviously NOT payroll oriented or management related situations! -- but I answered nevertheless and they are now using that baseline information to weed out candidates for the department.

Btw, I finished the 4 hr test in about 40 mins. As hokey as the questions were and as seemingly unrelated to the job, department or company as they may have felt to me, I figured "Hey, I'm not the one with the PhD in psychology who designed this test and I'm not the one with the huge consulting contract trying to con the senior staff into accepting their test's results as accurate so why not do what's asked as quickly as possible & just get it off my plate?" I've still never seen my results from that experience -- I wonder what it said about me? *ponders*

US41's picture

[quote="ascott"]
1. EQ=BS
2. I've handled the situation poorly.

What should I do now? Why do EQ inventory tests not focus on behaviours or outcomes, the standards by which managers are normally judged? Why was the test so difficult for me, and apparently easy for others?[/quote]

Are you sure the test is BS?

One of the dangers in these sorts of activities is that they are sometimes a Kobayashi Maru. That's the name of a test from Star Trek where a young officer is asked to captain a simulator in a scenario that is preprogrammed to be unwinnable. It tests resourcefulness and composure during complete failure.

How do you think you did on the Kobayashi Maru? What intel has HR gathered on you and given to your boss about your behavior with them? Have they said you have a desperate need to be right and that it harms your effectiveness, and that you are not a good fit for the team since everyone else liked it?

Take the test. Don't try to game the test. Don't assume you are smarter than the people who made the test. Don't assume that anyone cares how smart you are. Don't assume that convincing others you are smarter than them is a good thing.

rthibode's picture

EQ = BS, for sure. And you should still write it.

There is a logical flaw in the concept of emotional intelligence and particularly how it's tested. Think about it. If you have low emotional intelligence, then you'd be a terrible judge of how likeable or affectionate you really are, or even how you feel about things. You might even think you're really good at discerning your own or other people's emotions, but you'd be wrong.

This would be like giving an IQ test and instead of testing your abilities, asking you how good you think you are. For example, "I am very good at solving math problems" (1=not at all true, 5=completely true), or "I can mentally rotate three-dimensional objects in space (1=never, 5 = always).

They could try to invent an EQ test that would measure your ability, but they'd fail. If part of emotional intelligence is correctly identifying your own emotions (and then responding to them appropriately), who will say whether you're right or wrong. For example, if I identify my current emotion as "anger," how will we establish if I'm right? If we change the test and make it about identifying emotions in others, the same problem arises. If you identify my emotion as "anger," I may agree with you, but what if I'm an emotional idiot and can't identify my own emotions either?

Even though I agree the test is "incredibly stupid" and "invasive," it seems like the senior people in your organization place a high value on the test itself, and on behavioural conformity ("everyone else took it"). Like the others said, don't try to game the test. Just make your best guess if you don't know what to answer.

If you're interested in learning more about EQ, send me a private message with your real email address and I'll send you an article. There's a section on the (absence of a) link between EQ and leadership ability.

US41's picture

[quote="rthibode"]EQ = BS, for sure. [/quote]

I don't know much about EQ other than what I learned from reading a single book about it a couple of years ago. I don't know what test they were taking or how it works.

But I can testify, and MT identifies this in their first-ever podcast Solution to a Stalled Technical Career, that the stereotypical guy with a high IQ who is an emotional teenager with poor social skills and absolutely no concept of politics is a real person and that there are millions of him.

Most CEO's have average IQ's, average grades in school, and are not high-achieving, highly credentialed people. Usually they have a background in sales. Very few Bill Gates types are out there, and he's an oddity.

I am thinking of one very smart guy in particular that has a high IQ and loves to be right. He works at my company. About nine years ago, he was identified as a system SME and the principal member of staff for half of the IT systems in our company. He was asked to come to the board room to help with preparations for a merger.

He was so sure that he was smarter than everyone (and he was) that he was totally unprepared, emotionally and in terms of planning, for this meeting. He walked in with a little smirk, greeted no one, sat down, and tried to take over the meeting. "OK, what do you need? I'm very busy."

Heads turned to look at each other with eyebrows raised.

They started to explain system changes they needed to prepare the system for the coming merger and consolidation. "We need you to add these abilities to our systems to make them cross-compatible and allow us to shut it down next year.

He responded, "No, I can't do that. The plan for this year is fixed. You'll have to wait for next year." When he said it, he furrowed his brow.

His own manager was sitting next to him and said, "Hey, but we can be flexible and move some things around, right?" He looked hopeful and scared, suddenly realizing that he had forgotten to brief this extra-smart guy. Being a geek himself, he also was not very politically astute and assumed that everyone would know how to behave in a board room.

His employee looked at him angrily and said, "No! We can't! They'll have to wait."

He was asked to leave the room. After he left, the VP of marketing of the company that was in charge of the merger, whom this oh-so-smart person had been addressing and had no idea who he was because he did not ask or greet anyone, said, "I never want to see him again, and when this is over, he's out. Are we clear?"

I saw it happen. They guy was a genius but a political moron. I guess you could say he had a very low EQ despite the fact that he had a high IQ.

It's not what you know that gets you ahead with management. It's how much they like you. You can fail to deliver, make some mistakes that might get someone else fired, but if you have the relationships, you will not only survive, your network will close around you like a shield and protect you during hard times.

Ever wonder how "that dummy director" got where he is even though you are smarter than him? People like him. That's how.

I'm not convinced that things like EQ should be discounted as concepts, even if there are bad tests and goofy testers. Taking the test itself is a kind of test. That test is the one you need to pass.

So I guess what I am saying is that even if EQ is BS, it just doesn't matter. If they give you a test about Homer Simpson, take it. If they have a day that they require everyone to wear costumes to work, wear one. If they have jeans day, wear them. If they have orange hair day, get some dye. If you are summoned to the board room, keep your cool, meet everyone, and find out what the mood is and how you can help.

FIT IN.

vinnie2k's picture

[quote="rthibode"]EQ = BS, for sure. And you should still write it.
[/quote]
In your blog, maybe. Your company is entitled to run any legal screening tests they wish to run, and you'll comply to the best of your abilities.

[quote]
They could try to invent an EQ test that would measure your ability, but they'd fail. If part of emotional intelligence is correctly identifying your own emotions[/quote]
It's not. The ones I've taken simply ask me to respond to situations, not identifying my own emotions.

[quote]
If you're interested in learning more about EQ, send me a private message with your real email address and I'll send you an article. There's a section on the (absence of a) link between EQ and leadership ability.

R.[/quote]
I am, why don't you post the link here?

rthibode's picture

UB41 -- for sure there are people who aren't good at things emotional and others who are much better. And of course people who misread their own and others' emotions and people who apply emotions inappropriately seem obnoxious and hard to work with. Of course. What is BS, in my opinion, is the construct "emotional intelligence" and its measurement with questionnaires. To be scientific, you have to be able to measure this EQ thing and use it to accurately predict how people will behave. That hasn't been done; the science is not there yet. Maybe EQ researchers will get past their conceptual and measurement problems, but they aren't there yet, according to several major critiques published recently.

vinnie2K -- I don't understand what you mean by what you wrote below. I don't have a blog and don't know what you're referring to. I think we agree that the OP should write the test is asked by an employer.

[quote] rthibode wrote:
EQ = BS, for sure. And you should still write it.

In your blog, maybe. Your company is entitled to run any legal screening tests they wish to run, and you'll comply to the best of your abilities. [/quote]

[quote]It's not. The ones I've taken simply ask me to respond to situations, not identifying my own emotions. [/quote]

That's interesting. You don't happen to know the name of the test, do you? It sounds more valid -- at least they could compare your responses to a situation against everyone else's responses. I don't know that this gets at "emotional intelligence" but at least it would tell you how similar you are to the norm. I'm not sure how they would decide what the correct emotional responses would be for each situation. If they get the norms from a pre-screened group of psychologically healthy adults, that would be a good start.

[quote]I am, why don't you post the link here?[/quote]

As far as I know, there's no link you can access unless you subscribe. Maybe you can get in through a university library or some guest user option at the journal's home page. Here's the reference:

Humphrey, N., Curran, A., Morris, E., Farrell, P, and Woods, K (2007). Emotional intelligence and education: A critical review. Educational Psychology: An International Journal of Experimental Educational Psychology, 27, 2, 235-254.

vinnie2k's picture

[quote="rthibode"]
vinnie2K -- I don't understand what you mean by what you wrote below. I don't have a blog and don't know what you're referring to. I think we agree that the OP should write the test is asked by an employer.
[/quote]
What I meant is that we can all disagree with our companies' policies in private, or as individuals (hence the blog reference), but as employees, we have to comply.

[quote="vinnie2k"]It's not. The ones I've taken simply ask me to respond to situations, not identifying my own emotions. [/quote]

[quote="rthibode"]
That's interesting. You don't happen to know the name of the test, do you?
[/quote]
It was a test in French :-/ It measured my EQ like an IQ test would have measured my IQ (i.e. gave me a number).

Here is a bad EQ test: http://quiz.ivillage.co.uk/uk_work/tests/eqtest.htm. It gives you a XX% correct at the end - plus some of the answers are so obviously out of place that it makes the whole test look really bad.

Here is the Wikipedia entry about EQ: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_intelligence

[quote="rthibode"]
As far as I know, there's no link you can access unless you subscribe. Maybe you can get in through a university library or some guest user option at the journal's home page. Here's the reference:

Humphrey, N., Curran, A., Morris, E., Farrell, P, and Woods, K (2007). Emotional intelligence and education: A critical review. Educational Psychology: An International Journal of Experimental Educational Psychology, 27, 2, 235-254.[/quote]
Here's a link, with pointers on how to get the article for those interested:
http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/custom/portlets/recordDetails/detai...

dhkramer's picture

"write a test" in the UK = "take a test" in the States.

(I should check my English to English dictionary to be sure)

ccleveland's picture

[b]All:[/b]
I'm not sure where the idea of no wrong answers came from; however, EQ, by definition is [u]intended[/u] to be a measure of ability. Therefore, there [u]are[/u] [b]right[/b] and [b]wrong[/b] answers on an EQ test. The example questions that ascott posted may not provide a full picture of the scope of the test. I expect they’re a more a measure of how well you understand your own feelings than trying to provide a “personality profile.” These questions were probably presented in different ways to help confirm statistical validity.

[b]ascott:[/b]
As far as EQ=BS…I’m not knowledgeable enough to really contribute to the debate. There are certainly critics of EQ; however, I’ve read articles saying how important having a high EQ is for leaders. I'll try to find references to the articles in my old class notes; however, your own research will probably be more credible.

It does seem that your company does not think EQ=BS. Your strong ethical streak should allow you to set aside your opinions long enough to do what is expected of you as an employee. The previous problems with statistical validity were probably not just due to non-responses; the problem was likely also due to inconsistency with the responses you provided.

CC

US41's picture

[quote="ccleveland"]Your strong ethical streak[/quote]

I wouldn't bring ethics into this. There is nothing unethical about his resisting the test, criticizing it, or criticizing the company's leadership for ordering it or the way the test was configured, managed, conceived, or designed. It might not be in his enlightened self-interest to resist being scanned and scored, but it certainly has nothing to do with ethics.

Ethics is a very relative term. People with a lot of international experience can probably testify that ethics are developed within cultures and rarely are portable from one society to another.

Bringing up ethics is like bringing up politics.

dhkramer's picture

[quote="US41"][quote="ccleveland"]Your strong ethical streak[/quote]

I wouldn't bring ethics into this. There is nothing unethical about his resisting the test, ....[/quote]

The original poster brought up ethics, suggesting it would be unethical to complete the test when he didn't know the 'right' answer. It's certainly worth discussing.

There was no accusation in cc's post.

I hope that ethics aren't off limits here. Mark and Mike seem to have strong feelings on the subject.

bflynn's picture

Ethics are most certainly NOT out of bounds. That managers are ethical should be a foregone conclusion, but it is not always the case that they always act ethically. Given the pressure to achieve, managers frequently let their ethics slip to satisfy personal and professional goals.

I don't see ethics as an issue in this case either. I see the original poster's misunderstanding of the test as the primary issue. I believe there is a concern that while individual questions are meaningless, an EQ test does have a right and wrong overall score. However, someone who is effective and an excellent manager (as all MT managers ought to be) should have nothing to worry about a test. You won't suddenly become unemployable if you score low on a test; it means you have a new area to work on.

By the way, I don't recall it being suggested, but the recent cast on pre-employment testing probably has some great insight to offer in terms of them mindset to adopt.

Brian

US41's picture

[quote="bflynn"] it is not always the case that they always act ethically.
[/quote]

According to whom? The world, its many cultures, and life are far more complicated than that.

Peter Drucker says that the ethics of a company should be driven by profit and job protection, that a company's only debt to society is to provide jobs to people and strive for profit. He says that it is unethical for a business to engage in wasteful "giving back to the community" activities such as sponsoring the ballet or donating money to the local cancer center. Others would say that is a heartless approach.

Once you start talking ethics, you almost invariably assume that everyone shares the same ethical compass - but they don't. Some think killing bad guys is ethical, others think it is murder. Some think plowing under trees is their ethical duty, others chain themselves to them. Some managers might view firing people as helping everyone out of a bad situation, another person could just as easily argue that it is unethical to let someone go when children are at home and the stakes are relatively low.

Everyone has an opinion, and not all opinions match up.

Let the law handle ethics, otherwise, you open a philosophical can of worms. Living in another culture for an extended period, you will find that some things are fairly constant, such as stealing (unless you live in a society with no concept of individual property), or killing (unless you live in a culture where infidels are beheaded for entering certain cities or you are a soldier who has as his employment the killing of others).

Most people try to do what is "right", and in their limited view, "right" is fairly easy for them to interpret until they meet someone who believes most of their "right stuff" is wrong.

I'd advise managers to try to do the best that they can, and to be helpful to people, but I have to accept that ultimately they can probably argue that almost anything is ethical if they are talented at debate.

I believe that people's ethics are mostly based on emotional opinion, not facts or easily defined universal moral codes.

I'd rather focus on what's legal and I love the MT approach on how wise enlightened self-interest and what's best for others are often deeply intertwined. I have heard them use the word "ethical" before, but I'd argue that MT is actually a very practical approach and not a philosophical one. It seems based very strongly in the strategy and tactics of success, and they successfully argue, I think, that what REALLY works in attempting to get ahead also happens to be what's best for everyone.

I don't recall that they ever argue that a behavior would be good for us to get ahead with but unethical. Rather, they argue that what seems to be good for getting ahead actually is not because "We see you."

ccleveland's picture

I apologize. The comments I made were unclear and clearly could be misinterpreted.

My point was certainly not to question or put to any doubt Ascott’s ethics and values. My comments were a poor attempt at trying to show that there are alternative perspectives with which to view the situation.

Ascott, I am sorry.

CC

vinnie2k's picture

[quote="US41"]Let the law handle ethics[/quote]
That's not its purpose.

Illegal can be moral and immoral can be legal. Two different animals.

dhkramer's picture

[quote="US41"]

Once you start talking ethics, you almost invariably assume that everyone shares the same ethical compass - but they don't. [/quote]

I don't buy it. There is right, and there is wrong.

You will get fired for unethical behavior. Crying about different cultural norms may get you a reprieve once, but then you are supposed to learn what is ethical.

Here and now. Wherever you happen to be.

I know it's not always black and white, which is why I think a forum like this is invaluable for discussing different viewpoints.

ascott's picture

In typical uber-D fashion, I have a few points to make:

1. Thank you. All of you.
2. cc - you have neither said nor inferred anything that warrants an apology to anyone; your contribution was valuable to me.
3. Some of you have missed an important fact - I did take the test, three times, and was unable to complete it. I was unable to answer enough questions to render the test statistically valid. I have done some research on why I should have such difficulty when others have none, and I'm not liking what I'm finding out.
4. I have been a Manager for 10 years, and a senior manager for 4. I meet or exceed all elements of my performance contract, and receive positive feedback from my staff, peers and superiors. If my competence or alignment with corporate values were in any way deficient, I would have been broomed a long time ago.

M/M - any ideas here?

US41's picture

[quote="vinnie2k"]Illegal can be moral and immoral can be legal. Two different animals.[/quote]

Topics such as abortion, gun control, taxation, social programs - just about anything a politician will have in his political platform - are all questions of ethics, and people do not agree on a black and white right and wrong.

The same holds true for business behavior. As a manager, shall I fire you for failing to perform and support the company while freeing you from mismatched employment, or shall I preserve your employment because I know you have children at home and let the company take your behavior on the chin? There are a lot of people who believe the latter - I believe the former. That is a question of ethics, and it isn't black and white.

Shall I consume all of my allotted budget this year to prevent it from being reduced next year using ghost projects, or shall I report the drop and perhaps cost someone on my team their job? Not everyone agrees on how to handle that situation - it is a matter of ethics.

In another thread, we were discussing whether or not it is ethical to ask a peer on a date. Many people feel that dating peers at the office is OK - as evidenced by the fact that most marriages are between people who met on the job. Some believe that such behavior is highly unethical, and some companies ban that behavior and punish it if it becomes known to be a fact.

Ethics are not black and white obvious answers like "Do not murder your neighbor and take his money" all the time. One of the hardest things I have learned in my life is how to live with the ambiguity of knowing that what I believe is right might actually not be as right as I think it is, but I have to go with my best information, experience, and wisdom anyway.

I find my own moral compass challenged any time I find myself moving in the direction of firing someone. I believe I do what is right and just, but I also listen to that little voice of doubt because I do not want to see the world in terms of all-or-nothing and shut out opposing viewpoints.

I am very much in favor of people believing that there is a right thing to do. Moral compasses are good things and I wish the world to be a place where everyone does his best.

But, I will not label someone's behavior as unethical unless they do something so obvious an extreme that I cannot imagine another perspective.

Learning to live with those shades of gray in life, I believe, is similar to learning emotional control. It makes decisions harder, but I believe any decision that is very easy for me to make was probably not thought through very well or was based on incomplete information.

WillDuke's picture

ascott - why can't you complete the test? I get something about not being able to answer a question. Is your inability to answer the question the result of your own need for feeling comfortable with the validity of the question / answer?

I know when taking the DiSC test I found some questions very difficult. The correct answer for me was unclear. I hovered between choices that were almost equally correct, or incorrect, for me. In that instance I just chose one and went with it.

Is that a possibility for you? Just choose an answer. Just don't move on until you choose an answer. Then forget about it. Let someone else worry about the statistical validity of the test.

As an experienced manager you have probably found that often it's more important to make a decision quickly and decisively than it is to make the perfect decision. Someone here posted a quote about perfection being the enemy of excellence. It sounds to me like your need for perfection is getting in the way of your excellence.

ashdenver's picture

Ascott, some things you've said stood out for me. I've sent you a PM.