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Using Emotional Intelligence in Recruitment

Using Emotional Intelligence in Recruitment

As a species the human race likes to pass judgement rather quickly and in a recruitment scenario this is no different. Throughout the journey a hiring manager may well be subjected to discrete tactics, whether consciously or not, that help to formulate an opinion on a specific candidate. An awareness of this is important to ensure that recruitment is undertaken efficiently, ultimately with the company’s future success in mind.

What is emotional intelligence?

As we’ve explored before emotional intelligence is the ability of a person to identify and control their own emotions and those of other people around them. In an interview scenario it can become evident fairly quickly when emotional intelligence is being used to build rapport or manipulate other characteristics of the situation for the betterment of the candidate. The risk of course is that for hiring managers, recruitment decisions may then be made based upon how a candidate made you feel as opposed to their ability to do the job.

How can recruiters improve their knowledge of emotional intelligence?

An understanding of what emotional intelligence is, and that it can be increased, is a great start point for anyone working within recruitment. Significant amounts of research show that an individual’s level of emotional intelligence can be increased. By having an awareness of your own thoughts on a candidate decision making can become more objective.

How will an understanding of emotional intelligence help the recruitment process?

Now that you are aware of what emotional intelligence is and how it can influence your decision making capability you can start to design recruitment processes that enable you to hire the best candidates. Rather than making decisions based on gut feelings about a personality, your decisions can be based on scientific evidence that a person can do the job well.

A keen awareness of the company cultures, subcultures and strategic goals from an organisational and departmental level will help formulate the talent strategy. For instance, if the business has a highly competitive environment with a robust approach to sales then it may be suited towards certain character traits than others. This knowledge can help to formulate the competencies you look for in a hiring process and aspects of the strategy can be geared towards this. By seeking a demonstration of competencies in your interview you are providing a platform where candidates are less likely to be judged with bias.

Another way to ensure that bias due to emotional intelligence does not creep in is to include the use of psychometrics in your recruitment. Psychometrics are proven to deliver higher success rates in recruitment than a basic hiring process.

Final Thoughts

Whichever way you choose to recruit moving forward, by being aware that emotional intelligence can play a significant role is a start point. The ability of someone to tell a great story that appeals to emotions does not necessarily provide them with the evidence needed to be the right person for the company, its culture and the role. An awareness of this will help you to ensure recruitment errors are reduced.

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3 Tips for Improving Life Balance

3 Tips for Improving life balance

It’s pretty much a given fact that when you look around the office there’s always someone who seems calm, relaxed, good at what they do and has a keen sense of work life balance. For many of us we look at this person with a tinge of jealousy. At the same time there are others who can often be characterised as frantic. They’re in early, they beaver away for hours without coming up for air, and more often than not are the last to leave. It’s these people with whom we might often associate burnout.

Achieving life balance isn’t just about making staff happier and providing a better environment for work. Research from EY suggests that approximately a third of staff across the planet struggle to manage their work and personal lives effectively. It’s easy to see why, as a challenging external environment, with low wage rises means that for many working harder might be the badge of honour they need in order to be in line for that next promotion. However, in the States, research from the Corporate Executive Board shows that workers who believe they enjoy a healthy work/life balance work 21% harder than those who don’t.

Not only do performance levels improve in companies where work/life balance is important but so does staff engagement. By prioritising your work life balance both staff and managers stand to benefit. Here are some useful tips on where to start.

Make Your Rules Early

In the workplace people often find it difficult to alter a certain pattern of work once it has been established and others form expectations of you. For instance, if you are always first in work and last to leave, or always willing to take on extra projects, then colleagues may start expect this from you. Once you start to deviate from this example they may question why. You personally may be aware of this. Instead, set your stall early. Be at work on time, take your break allocation and go home at the end of the working day. If there is a culture for working overtime and taking time off in lieu then take your time off. This will help you maintain the balance as the role evolves.

Manage Your Communications

One of the biggest challenges for any employee these days comes from constant communication and being contactable 24/7. If this is a concern for you then don’t let it be. Once again manage the parameters early and stick to them. Only reply to emails during work hours and get into the habit of not replying straight away to emails that are not urgent. Be careful about which emails you respond to and which you don’t. Perhaps the best tip is to remember that emails are more likely to fill your inbox when you send them. If you don’t want your inbox filling up then be careful about filling your outbox.

Work Smarter

Not harder as they say. We all have colleagues who are perfectionists, that like to make sure they have every last detail correct, even if that means working until late to get the job done. When this becomes a habit it can have a serious impact on work/life balance. What are the expectations of the role? What are the expectations of the team? What needs to be done in order for you to be successful in your role? Take time to consider these things and how they fit into the role in the hours you work, instead of over delivering consistently with no greater reward.

Workplace well-being is vital for the success of your organisation. To find out more about well-being policies in the workplace contact us to discuss your requirements.

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Introducing Development Centres

Development centres

Organisations often confuse development centres and assessment centres thinking that they are one and the same. The truth is they are not, and whilst both play a vital role in a company’s people strategy the development centre is more concerned with just that…. Development. A development centre is designed to help specifically identified high potential staff members within the company to develop the competencies needed to drive the company in future.

Why Development Centres?

Development centres came to prominence off the back of assessment centres. In similarity to the assessment centre the development centre typically uses a form of observational assessment of an individual or group placed in real life scenarios. There may also be some form of psychometrics involved in the development centre. The key difference is that the outcomes are designed to support the competency development of key staff in order to align effectively with organisational goals, as opposed to supporting recruitment decisions.

What types of task take place?

Development centres focus on using simulations of real life scenarios to help candidates examine their ability to demonstrate a particular competency. Often the individual will be monitored by a member of staff who will provide objective feedback. In a development centre environment however candidates are encouraged to self-reflect on their performance, and are afforded a safe environment in which they can be honest with themselves about how they move forward with a particular competency.

An example might be a group task where an individual is being asked to lead a small group of staff. Following a task, the individual in question may be encouraged by an observer to reflect on their communication style, listening and delegation methodology. The observer plays the role in this scenario of a facilitator encouraging self-reflection rather than assessor giving performance feedback.

The benefits of development centres

As the name suggests development centres are about enhancing potential and equipping future seniors within the company with the skills and awareness to perform effectively in management roles. By implementing a culture of development within the organisation the company will benefit from enhanced engagement as staff feel supported on their learning journey. The competencies developed will help make the company more resilient to the commercial landscape in future years. With so many positive outcomes from such a strategy its worth looking at how your organisation could benefit from development centre learning.

If you want more support on how to start a development centre in your organisation, then contact us for more details.

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4 Tips on Becoming a More Self-Aware Manager

How to become a more self aware manager

No matter how good we might think we are in our jobs, how much we outperform our peers and colleagues, deliver income and get great feedback, none of us are perfect. For those people moving towards leadership and management roles a track record of success can often help to mask shortcomings.

The Leadership Transition

Many great performers on the front line often struggle in managerial roles because they aren’t aware of their skills gaps. Those who are at a more youthful stage of their career often make mistakes or do something wrong but a lack of self-awareness means they justify their actions despite obvious negative outcomes.

It’s our nature to act first then consider and learn from consequences afterwards. Often impulsive reactions to challenges and workplace issues create further problems, upsetting colleagues or getting us into trouble. We’ve all known ‘untouchable’ star performers who seem to be able to get away with saying what they want regardless of the consequences.

However, when your role changes and you are starting to take responsibility for the performance of others, an abrasive and inconsiderate approach won’t do.


Self-awareness is the ability to understand not only where your strengths lie but also your weaknesses. Successful managers are self-aware and understand quite clearly their limitations. If they are unable to perform in certain tasks self-awareness means they can identify others who can. As Anthony K Tjan remarks in the Harvard Business Review, “You can’t be a good leader without self-awareness.”

Self-awareness helps to improve performance by supporting your ability to make better decisions and act in a considered fashion when under pressure. Becoming more self-aware, and aware of your actions however takes time and dedication. There is no overnight quick fix but there are things you can start doing to improve self-awareness. Here are our tips


Taking time regularly to stop and reflect on events can help you to become more self-aware. Whether you practice meditation or just take time to quietly reflect, by asking your yourself why you took certain actions and not others will help you to be more considered next time similar challenges arise.

2. Get Feedback

Seeking feedback from a trusted source can be an easy way of getting the views of someone else. By taking on board how others view your actions it can help to see how what you do impacts others.

3. Practice Writing

The art of writing and keeping diary notes is perfect for helping to reflect on daily challenges. The act of committing your thoughts to paper will enable you to reflect during the process and reading afterwards will also give you time to consider your actions.

4. Tests

There are a wide range of personality tests available that are designed for people to help improve awareness about themselves, their abilities and their blind spots. Such tests provide detailed feedback which can prove invaluable on a leadership journey.

Self-reflection is a key attribute for anyone who wishes to excel in a leadership arena. For more details on how Psyence can help improve self-awareness please contact us today.

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Graduate Skills of The Future

Grad skills for future

A recent article talked about how in future the role of the sales person will change, to a point where the function of the role will be to tell the customer the price and accept the signature. The world we live in is changing dramatically. Technology, globalisation and mind set changes are three of the main drivers behind the evolution of the commercial environment. An awareness of this change is important for leaders of organisations and when considering how success may be derived in the longer term its vital to know what are the skills that will be needed to drive organisations forward.

A number of reports in the past have highlighted just some of the key skills needed in the future workforce. Indeed, like with the sales person example above research from the World Economic Forum suggests that in the region of 35% of skills that are common today will not be required for the workforce of 2020.

If you look closely at some of the popular industries around us nowadays the picture starts to become clear. The travel agency sector, in decline for a number of years, for how much longer can travel agents remain in play whilst bookings move online? The print media sector is in steep decline, potentially impacting on thousands of roles. In financial services automated software is making decisions which no longer require human intervention.

All that said there are other sectors where staff demand is clearly high, in areas such as electrical engineering, software development, nursing and care. Roles may be changing alongside the face of many industries but what is clearly evident is that in future there’ll be plenty of new opportunities for skilled candidates to go for. What skills may be popular in future?

In short the types of skill that may be popular will perhaps be those that relate to tasks that cannot be done by a machine or a computer. Generally speaking, these are skills that are distinctly human in nature.

Although nothing is impossible the brains ability to conjure up creative ideas and concepts for new products and services is unique. Those who have the ability to harness their creativity effectively will find that opportunities may well be more available.

Problem Solving Skills
In a more entrepreneurial working environment with polarized job roles (where many require a low skill base and others a high skill set) there will be plenty of room for people who can use their initiative to make things happen, rather than accept the status quo.

Global Mind-sets
As the world becomes a smaller place and the barriers to entering new markets less of a challenge those people who are capable of communicating internationally will stand out. Rather than just have an ability to speak the language cultural awareness and understanding will elevate candidates out from the crowd.

Digital Communications
In the workplace of the future your ability to communicate via digital media may not just be something you do for fun. With messaging apps, file sharing and gamification of systems more and more common, in a few years-time they may just be must have skills.

For some, considering the changes is daunting but for others its exciting. What’s for sure is that change in some form is certain. Your ability to identify what those important future skills might just set you apart.

The team at Psyence has helped to develop graduates in some of the UK’s largest organisations. For help on how we can support your teams feel free to get in touch to find out more.

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The Resilient Leader


Resilience is one of the keywords of 2016 with so many experts in the field of Occupational Psychology talking about the importance of the theme. A company’s ability to be able to adapt itself to the influences of internal and external pressures are more vital than ever before. Of course the role of the leader in any organisation plays an important part in setting the tone of organisational mind-sets and one’s ability to be resilient in times of change is vital for the future direction of the business.

Professional Insights

At Psyence we’ve recently seen some first-hand demonstrations of the importance of adapting to the world around you in business. At our recent ‘Discovering Resilience’ event Hazel Wheldon of Multi-Health Systems spoke extensively of the changing workplace and the impact of technology. As the next generation of the workforce becomes more prolific communication is just one example of change. Will messenger tools soon replace email as we know it? Are the motivations of new graduates, with a work to live ethos, changing the office dynamic.? On both counts the answer is most certainly yes. As leaders of organisations is resistance to such changes futile?

Types of Challenge

Changes in technology, economic pressures such as the risks associated to Brexit, the changing demands of customers and many other factors are just some of the things that apply challenges to the business. The resilient leader has the ability to bounce back when challenges like these impact the organisation.

What is a resilient leader?

Resilient leaders see the big picture. They are aware of what is on the horizon and create strategies that will meet the challenges head on. That said, plans that are laid down may often be flexible to adapt to the uncertainty of the current climate. Their ability to change direction when required is vital in a modern commercial environment.
Communication is also a common factor for the resilient leader. Understanding that social relationships and the support of a board of directors is vital in a changing environment is key. Furthermore, the ability to keep the workforce informed effectively will help the resilient leader to achieve corporate goals.

4 tips for improving resilience

Be Proactive – For many the threat of change can lead to paralysis. When change is on the horizon, attacking the issues head on as opposed to ignoring them and hoping they will fade away is vital. Understand that change requires action.
Build a Strong Support Network – They say that a problem shared is a problem halved. By building a team of trusted advisors and having a network around you of individuals you can listen to in times of need, it will help to become more resilient in times of challenge.
Keep Healthy – The benefits of good physical health mustn’t be underestimated in times of tough mental rigour. Physical activity, balanced diet and adequate amounts of sleep are important to making sure that your decision making capabilities remain at their optimum levels.
Maintain a Positive Outlook – Resilient leaders understand that turning negative problems into challenges and keeping a positive outlook is vital. Remember that problems will come and go, and tomorrow the challenges will be different.

Resilience is a key attribute for modern leadership. If you want to discuss how Psyence can help your leaders be more resilient .

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The Pros and Cons of Remote Working

Silhouette Global Business People Meeting Concept

As technology becomes faster and more reliable, remote working is on the increase. The changing demands of employees as well as the digital nomad phenomenon have created an idealised picture of people being able to work from anywhere and cut the immediate costs of office working in half, but how does telecommuting work in reality as opposed to a day in the office?


Of course, one of the major advantages is that people who may have previously been precluded from the world of full time employment due to low energy, mild disabilities or unpredictable health patterns are able to, to a certain extent, set their own hours according to their body clock and optimum vitality. Equally, employees with family commitments or caring responsibilities are likely to find working from home advantageous too, as it means they can continue to earn and keep up with their work if their child is off sick from school, and spend more quality time with family as a result of avoiding being stuck in rush hour traffic for long periods of time. For single parents or carers in particular, remote working opportunities can also help reduce the risk of poverty.

In this respect, remote working can theoretically do much to reduce the stress of commuting and working to unnatural biorhythms, both of which are a high contributory factor to burnout, depression and physical health problems.


On the other hand, for some people, the lack of a clear boundary between home and work can present a new type of stress where it becomes increasingly difficult to switch off.  If the employee already has a stressful home life, remote working makes it much easier to put work off in favour of whoever is demanding their attention. As well as affecting performance in an immediate sense, putting things off until later that would be done straightaway in the office can cause anxiety and feelings of failure when small tasks snowball into a large backlog of work that has to be done in what would normally be the employee’s free time.

For this reason, it is extra important to ensure remote workers are not too isolated outside the routine and structure of the office. Checking in every so often by phone, email or Skype is not only useful for gauging the employee’s progress but also helping them to feel supported and motivated if they are not used to the potential loneliness of working away from the social atmosphere of a team.

One of the biggest problems for employers is that unless there are very clear targets, it is impossible to monitor someone’s progress in quite the same way as in an office, where both manager and employee are able to immediately ask questions and iron out problems. While some businesses reportedly use webcams to check that remote employees are working the hours they say they are, this level of surveillance might feel understandably uncomfortable for a lot of people, especially when more conventional methods such as goal setting and check in times can be used instead.

Making Remote Working Easier

One way of making it easier for newly remote workers to stay focused is by offering preliminary training on how to stick to the same rules as you would in an office – for example, switching your mobile phone off or putting it on silent, making sure Facebook and personal email alerts are disabled and ensuring friends and family members respect that time working at home means only distracting them in the case of an emergency, just as they would if they were in the office.

Ultimately, it would seem that while remote working has huge advantages on both sides, it is perhaps even more important for employers to ensure a high level of engagement and motivation in the worker to make sure distractions don’t take centre stage and achievements are recognised and acknowledged. Offering a high level of support and keeping communication levels high are two ways of doing this.

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It’s Time to Think

Young attractive woman thinking and holding a cup of coffee

Thinking is such a fundamental part of being a human being that it seems incredible to think that many of us simply do not make the time to do it. We often move from one task or life change to another with very little time to reflect on our losses, successes and the lessons learned in the process. Smartphones and their constant stream of social media updates can definitely contribute to a world where we are increasingly outwardly focused. Studies have shown that as a consequence, we are now more likely to compare ourselves to others or look towards other people for affirmation, leaving us at a disadvantage in terms of self-reflection, independent thought and the ability to identify and follow our instincts.

Equally, the 24/7 culture of our working lives can mean that we never really switch off for long enough to take time out to think about what we want, where we’re going and whether we are fulfilling our true ambitions and purpose. In fact, failing to take the time out to think every so often can be a large contributing factor in continuing on in jobs, relationships and life situations that are not really in line with what we know at some level we really want.

So how can we try and factor more thinking time into our day? Here are a few of our top tips for becoming better thinkers.

1)      Learn to switch off from social media

It sounds obvious, yet having a very clear cut off point, especially in the evening, from social media,  can be one of the most effective ways of re-learning the skill of self reflection. Having a time to switch off all internet devices and sticking to it each evening could also result in less stress and better sleep.

2)      Learn to be more assertive

It is much easier to be swept away by the demands of others when we are not adequately assertive about how we spend our time. Learning to say no means more time to think about our own path in life and how we can make our dreams a reality, without the drama or distraction of the demands of others.

3)      Plan your day better

If your day is planned only vaguely, it is a lot more likely that other people will be able to burst in and take priority over other tasks and needs. Timetabling your schedule better means being able to state a lot more clearly to others what you intend to do and when you expect to do it by, creating better focus and  more time to reflect and switch off in between jobs.

4)      Delegate

Is it possible that there are other people that could do some of your jobs better, and that you could in fact be more productive if you were able to focus more on whatever you are best at or what is the most important? The art of delegation can be integral to being able to work smarter and generate new ideas in the process.

5)      Reflect on your goals and whether you are fulfilling them

Perhaps one of the best ways to factor in some good quality thinking time is to make a note of your goals and continually check in with yourself to see if your current activities are taking you closer or further away from them.  When we start genuinely committing to our goals and reviewing our progress, it becomes easier to understand where we could be using our time and energy better.

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The Psychological Contract

Smiling successful businesswoman giving a thumbs up gesture of success and approval as she sits at her desk in the office

The psychological contract is one of the most important aspects of any job, yet it is a term that is rarely discussed or widely understood.  Unfortunately, not having a clear idea of the psychological contract in a working agreement is usually to the detriment of any organisation, and high staff turnover, low engagement and unclear expectations are some of the potential consequences of failing to consider this essential part of the employment relationship. So, what is it, and how does it impact on the relationship between an organisation and its staff?

Originally explored as a concept in the early 60s, simply put, the psychological contract is the understanding between employer and employee about their roles, obligations and commitments to each other. It differs from the written employment contract inasmuch as it is more definite and interactive on a human, day to day level, rather than focusing on speculative outcomes. Although the psychological contract is not technically legally binding, the basic expectations of the employer employee relationship can be brought into any dispute where that relationship has not been honoured in the ways that would usually be anticipated without question.

From the point of view of the employee, the contents of the psychological contract pertain to the employee’s human rights within the organisation, from being treated with fairness and impartiality during the recruitment process to being treated with compassion at times when leave is required for illness or bereavement.

From the employer’s point of view, the contract describes, among other things, the expectation that the employee will treat the business with respect, not bring the business into disrepute and will let the employer know of anything going on that could harm the business in any way.

There is of course, some distinction to be made with a psychological contract about what clauses constitute promises and which are expectations.

Managing expectations is therefore an essential part of maintaining a psychological contract that works. For example, it is important to ensure that expectations of the possibilities of promotions, pay rises and contract renewal are completely transparent. Where expectations in these areas are unclear or unmet, employee engagement is likely to plummet, especially if employees feel that hard work is not being recognised or that goal posts have changed.

With this in mind, it is fair to say that the psychological contract between employer and employee is one of reliability, consistency, decency and civilisation. Consensual, fair working patterns, transparency in communications and honouring commitments are the cornerstone of any psychological contract. For an employee, similarly, the basic expectations are those you would expect to find as the ethos of any grounded, mature adult with empathy and understanding – such as honesty, loyalty, communication and considering the interests of others.

Do you have a psychological contract, and if so, could you write it down or is it too vague? If you do not have one, perhaps now is a good time to start considering your organisation’s take on both sides. Once you have very clear boundaries and commitments in place on both sides, it is easier to spot which candidates will fit into the roles on offer, and which will be difficult or impossible to train to be a part of the company culture. Developing a psychological contract now will help ensure the right people can be attracted and retained in the long term.

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Are Your Top Performers Engaged?

Young business people shaking hands

Top performers are in demand, and often they know it. But when performance is consistently high, how can you identify problems? While disengagement, boredom and overwhelm can be easy to spot and work through with more average performers, when it comes to your top talent, it can come as a complete surprise to discover that they are either searching for a new position elsewhere or handing in their notice.

In the case of a high potential employee, meeting or even exceeding the organisation’s targets and expectations does not necessarily mean they are motivated and engaged. In fact, they may be doing the minimum they need to do to get a stellar reference while they look for a better, more rewarding opportunity elsewhere.

Part of the problem for busy employers and managers is that they often fail to check in with their star performers when it matters. A 12 month employment review, for example, is a complacent approach to a high level performer when looking at whether their personal aspirations are in alignment with what the company can offer them.

US studies have shown that this is one of the key ways in which companies fail their rising stars. Generally speaking, top performers are ambitious and have high self esteem, and are therefore much more likely to have a personal career strategy to get them to where they see themselves in 5, 10 or even more years’ time. Even so, a study conducted by Harvard Business School in 2010 showed that 70% of top performers lack some of the essential attitudes, emotional intelligence and other traits to clearly indicate the likelihood of stamina and future success in their current and future roles, meaning that the traits and abilities managers invest in them may at times be wishful thinking, especially when it is assumed that high potential employees will want, and be suitable for, management roles in the future.

While top performers have higher expectations of themselves and their performance than most people, they also tend to have higher expectations of the companies they work for, and want to know that they can change direction, expand upon their role, take on new challenges and be given projects they can take the credit for as part of their longer term plan.

It would be easy to make the assumption that it is therefore the responsibility of the company to keep their top talent consistently engaged and continually provide them with things to do that will broaden their horizons and keep them interested.

In reality however, it is more accurate to look at the relationship as one of equal responsibility. While most employees are used to the traditional dynamic in which their managers give them tasks to do and let them know what their expectations are of the results, top performers tend to have an understanding of the extra value they bring to an organisation in terms of time, money and energy, borne out by experience and in many cases, figures. For this reason they often prefer to be self directed where possible, to showcase their abilities and build their skills and knowledge for a bright future.

The relationship between business leaders and their employees has changed rapidly, especially since the recession. More and more, managers and bosses are taking on the role of coaches, and a great leader will generally spot the signs when an employee has a special talent that could be developed further.

The 2010 Harvard Business School study on engaging top performers goes on to state:

‘Our research shows that [top performers] confidence in their managers—and in their firms’ strategic capabilities—is one of the strongest factors in top employees’ engagement. An organisation that goes “radio silent” with respect to its strategy—or, even worse, explicitly or implicitly signals a strategy freeze in the midst of economic uncertainty—runs the risk of disengaging its rising stars just when they are needed most.’

Essentially, one of the keys to keeping your top performers engaged seems to be above all, honesty. Leaders need to have a very clear sense of their organisation’s values, goals and identity in order to know how to motivate staff to work in alignment with them.

Meanwhile, top performers also need to be honest with the companies they work for about their long term strategy and goals both in the role they currently occupy and in the roles they see themselves in the future. When both the company and the employee are in accord about their shared values and vision, motivation to outperform their competitors and create a strong sense of team work becomes much easier.


If you want to discuss how to engage your top performers then contact us today.