The Importance of Emotional Wisdom in Hiring

According to a study by Leadership IQ, 46% of newly-hired employees will have left the organization within 18 months and only 19% will become an integral part of the team. The reason for this disappointing and expensive statistic is twofold; both the employer and the employee are at fault! 

The employer’s fault stems from a performance focused hiring process that often neglects the relationship characteristics of a person. There is no exploration of a person’s Emotional Wisdom and therefore no understanding of their capacity to build, nurture, and protect healthy relationships.

Furthermore it is the employee’s fault for not being intentional with discovering and developing their Emotional Wisdom and learning how to build, nurture, and protect relationships.

We define Emotional Wisdom as the collective elements that go into a person’s ability to build, nurture, and protect relationships; coachability, emotional intelligence, motivation and temperament. You could also consider it the art of relationships.

It seems very ironic that for most of us we would see people as being the greatest asset of an organization but our hiring practices contradict this and most organizations Conflict Management Systems reinforce this contradiction.

Below are the top 5 reasons almost 5 out of 10 new hires left organizations:

Reasons new hires leave graph.png

This Leadership IQ study found:

  • 26% of new hires resisted coaching; they struggled with how to accept and process feedback.

  • 23% of new hires had difficulty with emotional intelligence; understanding their team member’s emotions and how to manage their own emotions.

  • 17% of new hires lacked motivation; a passion to become emotionally engaged with the organization and do something daily to make a difference (employee engagement).

  • 15% of new hires had the wrong temperament for the job; they did not engage in the vision and the values at a personal and organizational level.

  • 11% of new hires didn’t have the necessary functional or technical competence.

This study by Leadership IQ was a heavyweight with results based on studying 5,247 hiring managers from 312 public, private, business and healthcare organizations. Collectively these managers hired more than 20,000 employees during the study period.

A healthy Conflict Management System begins with a vision that clearly says why we are passionate about what we do, a set of values that underpin the vision in a non-negotiable way, and a mission that is contagious. This is also the foundation for employee engagement that empowers creativity, innovation, productivity and profitability. In a relationship driven interview process, this is the entry point!

The majority of managers (82% in this study) involved in the hiring process will tell you they have had “gut instincts” about someone during an interview but the interview criteria, their uncomfortableness with exploring this feeling or time restrictions shut it down.

The typical job interview process is built around what a person does, not who they are and as such misses much of the relationship value of the person and focuses solely on their performance value.

Of the 5,247 interviews, 15% of them experienced significantly more hiring success than their peers. What differentiated their job interview approach was their emphasis on interpersonal and motivational issues. They put who the candidates were (relationship) ahead of what they do (performance).

The key to achieving greater retention of new hires is to engage an interview process that is part of the organizations overall Conflict Management System that focuses more time and energy on coachability, emotional intelligence, motivation and temperament.

We love to default to performance hiring because it’s easy to measure, but if we really value people as our greatest asset then don’t they deserve a hiring process that reflects that?

And don’t each of us and each of our organizations deserve a healthy Conflict Management System that resolves unhealthy conflict, empowers healthy conflict, increases employee engagement, increases customer retention and ultimately increases profitability!

What’s at risk to rethink interviewing and Conflict Management Systems or should perhaps I should rephrase the question; what’s at risk not to?


In the next 30 days you will be having a crucial conversation; an emotional, important or difficult one. Will you be ready to achieve the results you want?

We are pleased to announce our next installment of our Communicating for a Change workshop on Nov. 14! One of the greatest challenges facing organizations and its leaders is communication. Join us for Communicating for a Change and learn the Emotional Wisdom and communication tools to improve your leadership capacity. We are confident you will walk away with a greater awareness, confidence and empowerment for handling communication and conflict! Check out the link below to find out more information:

President and Head Coach

Legendary Coaching


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michael walker