Category Archives: Business

Shaping problem-solvers

Harvard Gazette November 19, 2014

A Gen Ed course linked to the South Asia Institute takes an interdisciplinary approach to the region’s challenges. Students are faced with various scenarios that they must find solutions for (photo 1). In her four-week portion of the class, Professor Sue J. Goldie (photo 2) sought to give students background on the region’s health scene before drilling down to nation-specific challenges. Professor Tarun Khanna (right, photo 3) said that the cross-faculty approach of the course reflects the mission of the South Asia Institute.

By Alvin Powell, Harvard Staff Writer

“The existing system in many developing countries is not working for the masses, so almost by definition you need entrepreneurship,” Tarun Khanna said of the social and economic issues facing India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and other nations of South Asia.

Khanna, the Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at Harvard Business School and the director of Harvard’s South Asia Institute, leads the Gen Ed course “Contemporary South Asia: Entrepreneurial Solutions to Intractable Social and Economic Problems.” He was speaking just outside Sever 113, where his students were working furiously on plans for improving maternal mortality in one of two places — India’s state of Uttar Pradesh or the Pakistani state of Punjab. A few minutes earlier, they had been presented with two scenarios and a sheet of relevant data, and then given half an hour to brainstorm solutions.

Full article from Harvard Gazette

Emotional Intelligence Is Overrated

Emotional Intelligence Is Overrated | Adam Grant

Not long ago, the CEO of a sales company mentioned that he was spending millions of dollars to train his employees in emotional intelligence. He asked if it was possible to assess emotional intelligence during the interview process, which would allow him to hire salespeople who already excelled in this area.

I said yes, it can be done — but I wouldn’t recommend doing it.

Warning: If you’re a devoted member of an emotional intelligence cult, you may have a strong negative reaction to the data in this post. In case that happens, I’ve offered some guidance at the bottom on how to respond.

To make sure we’re on the same page, let’s be clear about what emotional intelligence is. Experts agree that it has three major elements: perceiving, understanding, and regulating emotions. Perceiving emotions is your ability to recognize different feelings. When looking at someone’s face, do you know the difference between joy and contentment, anxiety and sadness, or surprise and contempt? Understanding emotions is how well you identify the causes and consequences of different feelings. For example, can you figure out what will make your colleagues frustrated versus angry? Frustration occurs when people are blocked from achieving a goal; anger is a response to being mistreated or wronged. Regulating emotions is your effectiveness in managing what you and others feel. If you have a bad day but need to give an inspiring speech, can you psych yourself up and motivate your audience anyway?

I told the CEO that although these skills could be useful in sales, he’d be better off assessing cognitive ability. That’s traditional intelligence: the capability to reason and solve verbal, logical, and mathematical problems. Salespeople with high cognitive ability would be able to analyze information about customer needs and think on their feet to keep customers coming back. The CEO was convinced that emotional intelligence would matter more.

To see who was right, we designed a study. Working with Dane Barnes of Optimize Hire, we gave hundreds of salespeople two validated tests of emotional intelligence that measured their abilities to perceive, understand, and regulate emotions. We also gave them a five-minute test of their cognitive ability, where they had to solve a few logic problems. Then, we tracked their sales revenue over several months.

Cognitive ability was more than five times more powerful than emotional intelligence. The average employee with high cognitive ability generated annual revenue of over $195,000, compared with $159,000 for those with moderate cognitive ability and $109,000 for those with low cognitive ability. Emotional intelligence added nothing after measuring cognitive ability.

The CEO wasn’t convinced: maybe they didn’t take the emotional intelligence test seriously enough. We ran the study again — this time with hundreds of job applicants, who knew that their results could affect whether they were hired. Once again, cognitive ability dramatically outperformed emotional intelligence.

I happen to find emotional intelligence fascinating; I teach the topic in the classroom and have published my own research on it. As much as I like it, though, I believe it’s a mistake to base hiring or promotion decisions on it.

A few years ago, researchers Dana Joseph and Dan Newman wanted to find out how much emotional intelligence really influenced job performance. They compiled every systematic study that has ever tested emotional intelligence and cognitive ability in the workplace — dozens of studies with thousands of employees in 191 different jobs.

When Daniel Goleman popularized emotional intelligence in 1995, he argued provocatively that “it can matter more than IQ.” But just as I found with salespeople, every study comparing the two has shown the opposite. In Joseph and Newman’s comprehensive analysis, cognitive ability accounted for more than 14 percent of job performance. Emotional intelligence accounted for less than 1 percent.

This isn’t to say that emotional intelligence is useless. It’s relevant to performance in jobs where you have to deal with emotions every day, like sales, real estate, and counseling. If you’re selling a house or helping people cope with tragedies, it’s very useful to know what they’re feeling and respond appropriately. But in jobs that lack these emotional demands — like engineering, accounting, or science — emotional intelligence predicted lower performance. If your work is primarily about dealing with data, things, and ideas rather than people and feelings, it’s not necessarily advantageous to be skilled in reading and regulating emotions. If your job is to fix a car or balance numbers in a spreadsheet, paying attention to emotions might distract you from working efficiently and effectively.

Even in emotionally demanding work, when it comes to job performance, cognitive ability still proves more consequential than emotional intelligence. Cognitive ability is the capacity to learn. The higher your cognitive ability, the easier it is for you to develop emotional intelligence when you need it. (This is one of the reasons that emotional intelligence and cognitive ability turn out to correlate positively, not negatively.)

As better tests of emotional intelligence are designed, our knowledge may change. But for now, the best available evidence suggests that emotional intelligence is not a panacea. Let’s recognize it for what it is: a set of skills that can be beneficial in situations where emotional information is rich or vital.

If you felt intense negative emotions while reading this post, it’s an excellent opportunity to put emotional intelligence into action.

Step 1: Recognize the emotion. Is it disgust? Probably not — that’s usually reserved for gross foods, sights, and smells. Is it hostility? More likely: Hostility is anger directed toward other people.

Step 2: Analyze the causes of the emotion. Why are you feeling hostile? Years ago, the psychologist George Kelly argued that hostility occurs when we are attempting to “extort confirmation of personal hypotheses that have already proved themselves to be invalid.” In other words, you might be feeling hostile because the data are clear that emotional intelligence has been overrated, but you don’t want to admit it.

Step 3: Regulate the emotion. Maybe this isn’t as terrible as it seems. You’ve been able to update invalidated beliefs before. Napoleon wasn’t short. Pluto isn’t technically a planet. Swimming after eating isn’t dangerous. Miley Cyrus isn’t actually a great role model. The LOST writers didn’t really have a master plan.

Adam is the Wharton Class of 1965 Professor of Management and Psychology, and the New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success. Sign up for his free newsletter on work and psychology at

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.

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6 steps-If you Hate your job

Job dissatisfaction is a big problem especially after the Great Recession. People were forced to stay in jobs they no longer felt satisfied in because they had to. This article may help.

From US News Money blog

Sure, everyone gets frustrated at work sometimes. But being unhappy for months isn’t normal or healthy. Most people have moments of frustration with their jobs. But if you’ve been unhappy for months, that’s not normal or healthy – that’s a flag that you should be thinking about making a change. But sometimes it’s not that simple. You might be convinced you won’t be able to find a job that pays as well; you may worry that you won’t be qualified for other work; or you might simply be having trouble getting the mental energy to launch a job search while you’re still mired in a job that makes you unhappy.

When you’re feeling stuck in a job that’s wrong for you, here are six steps that can help you get un-stuck:

1. Ask yourself what would need to change for you to be happy. Would it take getting a new boss? A switch away from a project with a difficult client? Some relief in your workload? A raise? Not every problem can be fixed (or is likely to be fixed), but quite a few are surmountable. Simply getting clarity on whether or not that’s the case can be useful in helping you think about next steps. And if you’re not even sure how to figure out this question, consider talking it through with a trusted mentor, who might be able to help you determine if asking for a change would be feasible.

2. Be clear-headed about your bottom line. Spend some time thinking through what things matter most to you at work and what trade-offs you are and aren’t willing to make. Figuring out your bottom line can either push you to realize you need to leave or help you get more comfortable with staying for a while. For instance, if you hate your manager but love the work you do, you might decide that you’d rather keep that job even if your manager is part of the deal. Or maybe you’ll decide that you’re willing to do less interesting work if it means getting a new boss. There are no right answers here. The idea is just to get really clear in your own mind about what matters most to you.

3. Don’t put off job searching if you know it’s really the right decision. Even when people have been miserable at work for a while, they often worry that they won’t be able to find another job that will pay as much, involve the same great commute or match their benefits. Or they worry about having to get used to a whole new job with new co-workers and a new manager. And what if the new job has similar problems or is even worse? Plus, job searching takes time and energy, and it can feel easier to simply stay put. But unless you’re very close to retirement, you’re going to have to change jobs at some point, so why not get a head start on it now and be miserable for less time?

4. Try launching a casual search. Launching a job search doesn’t have to be a massive production with hours each night writing cover letters. It can be as simple as just looking around at what postings are out there, or putting out feelers to people in your network. If launching a full-scale search seems too daunting, try these smaller steps instead. You might start getting useful data about the market that will push you one way or the other. Even just taking small steps to move on can sometimes make an unhappy job more bearable.

5. If you do decide to search, be discreet. If you hate your job or your boss, you might be tempted to tell your boss you’re job searching, thinking that you might get the satisfaction of being begged to stay. But if you reveal that you’re planning to leave before you have an offer in hand, you risk being pushed out now – before you’re ready to go. So don’t proclaim your job search to your current employer.

6. Don’t quit without something lined up. If you’re itching to get out of your current work situation, you might be considering just resigning before you’ve secured a new job. But job searches can take a lot longer than you expect them to, and you might find yourself out of work for months, or even a year or more. Moreover, it’s generally easier to get a new job when you’re still employed, because employers tend to prefer employed candidates.

Alison Green writes the popular Ask a Manager blog, where she dispenses advice on career, job search and management issues. She’s the author of “How to Get a Job: Secrets of a Hiring Manager,” co-author of “Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Manager’s Guide to Getting Results” and the former chief of staff of a successful nonprofit organization, where she oversaw day-to-day staff management.