A big part of how companies hire is based on easily measured skills, both hard and soft. We look for people that understand the technology, have demonstrated competence in execution, can communicate and lead, etc. And clearly these aspects are important to job success. But a previous personal blog entry got me thinking about activities indirectly related to success but possibly just as important.
That previous article focused on a team’s communication practices as a sign of health. But that is clearly not just dependent on policy and environment. Individuals’ capabilities are important. Not all people communicate as easily or effectively. There are degrees of directness in language, an ability to turn thought into words, the skill of reading a listener and modifying the message. All of these add up to communication intelligence that predicts part of a person’s contribution to a team.
The idea of a particular type of intelligence is not new to me. Years ago I saw a show on the Discovery Channel documenting many types of intelligence for recognized geniuses. Some of the subjects showed high IQs in the traditional logic tests. Some demonstrated incredible emotional intelligence by recognizing feelings under expressionless faces. Some could paint happiness in a way casual observers recognized. Some had kinesthetic gifts and could solve puzzles of their body and space. There are many types of intelligence.
As I started thinking about communication intelligence I realized that every position in a company would have demands for more than one dimension of intelligence. There should be multiple professional intelligences. Take software development, for instance. Successful programmers/engineers are exquisite problem solvers, they have heroic abilities of concentration, they have creativity, although of a more structural nature than, say, a painter.
All of this brings me to my current role, IT presales. What are the dimensions by which we would measure presales IQ? Here are my nascent thoughts:
These things are tough to measure and even more so in an interview. The behavioral interviewing we practice at EMC should come close to identifying presales IQ than the technical interviews I have run for most of my career. But I still doubt we could reliably observe these behaviors until we saw someone in action. I need to focus a part of my professional development towards building the skill of identifying these traits before hiring someone.