According to the results of a 2012 study published in Forbes Magazine, 46 percent of new employees in professional positions quit or are fired from their job within the first 18 months. That statistic is alarming enough on its own. What is even more surprising is the reason for the failure.
It would be natural to assume the high rate of new hire failure would be due to a lack of technical skills. However, that was only the case 11 percent of the time. The rest did not make the cut due to their attitude. Perhaps even more disheartening, only 19 percent of those who remain in their position are expected to be truly successful at it.
What Does a Poor Attitude Entail?
Speaking in broad terms, failing at a job due to attitude means that the employee had low emotional intelligence. Specifically, they lacked the following skills:
- Inability to accept feedback: Receiving feedback, whether it is positive or negative, is an essential part of any job. It allows the employee to learn from his or her mistakes and perform better in the future. In the study published by Forbes, 26 percent of new hires who didn’t make it to 18 months were unable to accept feedback without arguing or completely disregarding it.
- Inability to manage emotions on the job: Every person has emotions and there is nothing wrong with that. Even so, there is a time and a place to display them. People who couldn’t control their anger when things didn’t go their way or who often cried in frustration are just two of the reasons that new hires failed in this aspect of emotional intelligence. It fell slightly behind the inability to accept feedback at 23 percent.
- Lack of motivation to excel: People who only put forth the minimum effort to get by are rarely successful in their careers. Some won’t even do that much. It comes as no surprise then that 17 percent of new hires who didn’t last much longer than a year did not possess the inner drive to push themselves to succeed in their present position and excel in their overall career.
- Wrong temperament for the job: Introverted people in a direct customer service position and extroverted people working at a desk job with little people contact are just two examples of employees having the wrong temperament for the job. Fifteen percent of new hires in the study fell into this category.
Too Much Emphasis on Technical Skills
The biggest reason for new hires failing due to a lack of emotional intelligence is that hiring managers are overly focused on a job candidate’s technical skills. They are definitely important, but the interviewee also needs to show strong emotional intelligence to be a good match.
For this reason, companies are gradually shifting to a style of interviewing that gauges coachability, motivation, ability to handle emotions, and other predictors of success on the job. They are also turning to their current employees for referrals, doing their own networking or utilizing industry specific recruiting firms with proven track records to find the best candidates for open positions. As this trend is not going away any time soon, those searching for a professional position must be prepared to prove they are a good fit beyond the technical skills they possess.