Employee Experience: company culture and should you be hiring for EQ over IQ?

In this article, we’re going to explore whether we should be hiring for emotional intelligence (EQ) or just intelligence when considering your Employee Experience (EX).

Zappos and Tony Hsieh
Zappos is a highly successful online retail company which was acquired by Amazon. Zappos is famous for its company culture. Tony Hsieh is the founder and CEO and in his book ‘Delivering Happiness’ he shows how by concentrating on the happiness of those around you, you can dramatically increase your own happiness. By focusing on the company culture, Tony was able to maximise productivity in Zappos and grow the business to $1 Billion in gross revenue in 10 years.

Zappos has 10 core values and Tony says, in his speech to Stanford, that they have interview questions for each core value in order to ensure they employ people who best suit their culture. The 10th value is “Be Humble” and during the recruitment process it’s the one that trips up Zappos the most. “There’s a lot of really smart talented people out there who are also egotistical and for us it’s not a question, we just won’t hire them.” Tony goes on to say that many organisations will hire the smartest and most talented person, and turn a blind eye if they’re difficult to work with. However, while just one person might not bring down the whole company culture, if you keep hiring this way you’ll have an organisation with a poor employee experience. This is why most large organisations don’t have great cultures.

Tony says “Be Humble” is the hardest value to question for, because anyone can say they’re humble. Instead they test for this value. They pick up the recruits in a Zappos shuttle bus and give them a tour with a day of interviewing. At the end of the day of interviewing the recruiter will ask the bus driver how the candidate treated them. It doesn’t matter how well the day’s interview went, if they didn’t treat the driver well they won’t get hired.

The success of Zappos is down to its culture, with all the employees having the same core values both inside and outside of work. Tony’s belief is that vision and culture inspire passion and purpose. It must be noted that while Amazon owns Zappos, Amazon leaves Zappos to run independently with their own culture.

Apple and Steve Jobs
Apple is a little more difficult to write about as an outsider, because they have a culture of secrecy which is so ingrained that Apple employees will not even engage in conversations about Apple with family and friends. Very often Apple employees won’t even know what they’re working on until it’s been publicly announced.

Below are some examples of Apple’s culture from various sources:

Apple’s employees can feel inadequate at times. Alan Dye, Apple’s vice president of user-interface design, said: “I’m scared to death that at some point I’m going to get found out. You know, Tim

[Cook] is going to realize the truth about me, which is I’m terrible.”

Former director of iOS Apps Nitin Ganatra said that emails are sent at all hours, “You just know that there’s this firehose of emails that are just going out at 2:45 in the morning, and there are VPs or executive VPs who are scrambling to get answers.” Former director Don Melton said that Apple employees are expected to reply, no matter what time it is. Sunday nights are also work nights for every Apple employee. One former Apple employee said he couldn’t wait for Friday and he dreaded Sundays.

Another Apple employee said the culture is top down. If you try to attempt to streamline, change, or suggest a better way to work from the bottom up it won’t be received well. There are many people lined up outside to take your role and management don’t forget this.

In 2015, Apple was hit with another class-action lawsuit from its 20,000 employees. Apple’s employees claimed they were denied lunch breaks, rest breaks, and final paycheques.

According to a former employee Cory Moll, managers believed that money shouldn’t be an issue when you work for Apple. They believed Apple should be seen as an experience. Moll also stated that Apple believed working 40 hours a week as part-time.

Regardless, Apple has changed the World and no one can argue how successful the organisation is.

It’s clear we have two contrasting employee experiences, Zappos hires for EQ while Apple hires for IQ. Both are highly successful, Apple being the more successful. Does that mean the Employee Experience doesn’t matter and that IQ is more important than EQ? It would seem that Apple is an exception in this case. Apple’s strong brand built through its excellent products means that people are willing to work there for a short while, simply to gain the name Apple on their CV. While Apple seem to get away with this, other organisations are unlikely to.

In summary, while hiring strictly for IQ may well build you a successful company, it won’t result in a great company culture. With the internet and social media this will easily spill out into the public eye. When it does, the question is, are you really going to get the best talent applying to work for you? If you’re not Apple, then it’s highly likely that talent is going to end up in other organisations and possibly one of your competitors.

By | 2017-09-14T16:44:51+00:00 March 3rd, 2017|Articles|0 Comments

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