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管理

人际智商决定职业生涯

John D. Mayer 2014年04月21日

小到个人发展,大到企业管理,我们今天在工作中面临的许多挑战都可归结为如何管理我们自己的个性,如何理解和我们共事的人们所具有的个性。要解决这类问题,就需要我们提高对“人际智商”的重视和训练。

    我们大多数人都希望顺顺利利地度过每一个工作日。毕竟,我们中很少有人会主动找人扯皮打架。

    尽管如此,跟同事相处可不像公园漫步那般惬意,而这种紧张关系会影响我们的工作表现。有时候,我们部门中某位员工根本就不适合从事手头那份工作——他们为人浮夸,生性挑剔,缺乏兴趣,平庸无能,催生出一种有可能拖垮每一个人的有毒环境。

    大家不妨思考一下这个例子:在一家公司,由于长达一年的招聘冻结期,几个工程团队的人手严重不足。工程师们劳累过度,CEO担心他们可能无法按时完成任务。于是,这家公司就成立了一个跨团队委员会,以便决定如何公平地把新员工分配给相关团队。然而,这个委员会的负责人是一位有独立见解的工程师,出了名地喜欢争辩,批评他人。所有委员非常轻松地就首位新员工应该被安排在哪里达成共识,但随后就出现了问题。这位首席工程师希望把下一个新员工分配给一位得意门生负责运营的不太重要的团队;其他委员表示反对,他们认为这样做将会使组织失调。这位工程师没有选择让步,而是分头找几位委员谈话,充满敌意的争辩口吻让这几位委员觉得他想一手遮天。委员们花了一些时间讨论他的行为,有几位还因为这件事夜不能寐。就这样,一件原本简单的事情被搞得混乱不堪,耗费了大量宝贵的时间。

    再看看另一个例子。在一家制药公司,一位负责研发工作的科学家聘请了一位化学师。来公司时,她带着几位前同事撰写的一组热情洋溢的推荐信,起初看起来也确实很有才华。但大约一个月后,这位新员工的表现就只能算是勉强合格。这位上司明确指出,她的表现差强人意,远未达到他的期望值。她解释说,她知道自己掉队了,但会迎头赶上。不幸的是,这个问题随后仍然存在。最终,上司召来人力资源部一位同事与她谈话。经过一系列交谈,这位化学师开始承认,她已经对自己的工作失去了兴趣,需要做出改变。被劝离这家公司6个月后,她加入了另一家公司的营销部门,很快就干出了一番成就。这个故事有一个圆满的结局,但这位化学师的上司真希望她更早地理解、承认自身的愿望,这样或许就可以让她自己(以及她所在的研发团队)免于经受这段令人失望的插曲。

    与上述监理工程师和新晋营销专家相类似的员工面临一些涉及到理解自身和他人个性的复杂问题。我们需要具备在这个领域进行推理的能力,我称之为“人际智商”(personal intelligence)。一旦我们对这方面的理解失败,我们就可能做出有损我们的工作关系,或许还会伤及声誉的错误选择。

    我在2008年提出了“人际智商”这一概念,部分原因是为了整合心理学学界对于人们如何理解自身和他人个性这个问题的最新见解。这种理解包括对以下领域的新研究:自我认识,对他人的知觉(person-perception),为什么小孩似乎能够“读懂小伙伴的心灵”,以及我们如何使用自己所掌握的性格特征知识来预测别人的行为。人际智商就是推断分析这种个性系统的能力。

    

    Most of us would prefer to get through the workday without a scuffle. After all, very few of us are actively looking for a fight.

    That said, getting along with our colleagues is no walk in the park, and this tension can influence our performance. Sometimes, an employee in our department is simply the wrong person for the job -- their own grandiosity, critical nature, lack of interest, or incompetence leads to a toxic environment that drags everyone down.

    Consider this example: At one company, several engineering teams were understaffed, owing to a yearlong hiring freeze. The engineers felt overworked, and the CEO was concerned about missing long-term deadlines. The company formed a cross-team committee to decide how to fairly allocate new hires to the teams. However, the head of the committee was an independent-thinking engineer who had a reputation for being argumentative and critical of others. The committee easily agreed on where the first new hires should be allocated, but there were issues after that. The lead engineer wanted to assign the next hire to a protégé of his who ran a less-important team; other members objected that would misalign the organization. Rather than backing down, the engineer went to several committee members individually and argued with them in a way that they perceived as hostile and controlling. The committee members spent time discussing his behavior, and a few of them lost sleep over the issue. The whole process was far more time-consuming and messy than it needed to be.

    Or consider the research scientist in a pharmaceutical company who had hired a new chemist. She came with an amazing set of recommendations from her former colleagues, and indeed appeared remarkably talented. After a month or so, however, the new hire was performing at a barely adequate level. When the supervisor pointed out the discrepancy between his expectations and her performance, she explained she had fallen behind but would catch up. Unfortunately, the issue persisted. Finally, the supervisor called in a colleague from human resources to speak with her. Over a series of conversations with HR, she began to acknowledge that she no longer found her profession interesting and she needed a change. Six months after she was counseled out of the organization, she joined the marketing division of another firm, where she blossomed. This story had a happy ending, but the supervisor wished the chemist had understood and acknowledged her own desires sooner so she might have saved herself -- and his workplace -- some considerable disappointments.

    Employees like the supervising engineer and the newly minted marketing specialist face complex issues that involve understanding their own personalities and those of others. We draw on an ability to reason in this area I call "personal intelligence." When our understanding in this area fails, we can make poor choices that compromise our working relationships and, perhaps, our reputations.

    In 2008, I introduced the concept of "personal intelligence" in part to organize an emerging understanding I saw taking place within psychology of how people understand their own and others' personalities. This understanding included new studies on self-knowledge, person-perception, how children seem to be able to "read the minds" of their friends, and how we use our knowledge of traits to anticipate the behavior of other people. Personal intelligence is the capacity to reason about this personality system.

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