AQ & Market Crunch – Seduced by Schwarzenegger?

As the global recession crunches markets, organisations are entering the unknown. What worked in the bubble is no longer applicable, and previously high performing talent is finding itself challenged by uncertainty. What to do? One of the suggestions is that we add the Adversity Quotidient (AQ) to IQ and EQ as an element of individual manager performance to be measured and required in new recruits and existing staff. We are talking in essence about emotional (and intellectual) resilience in the face of professional challenge. I find the idea worrisome – let me explain why.

The focus on the individual is a concern in itself. Globalisation means that anything simple has been off shored and outsourced. Western organisations compete in open markets and at the higher end of the value chain. Effective and sustained competitive performance in such complexity requires a team response.

Even if we are seduced by the focus on the ‘strong man’ (Schwarzenegger for Governor?), an individual’s ability to deal with adversity is not set it changes over time, and from situation to situation. Domestic influences are important – bereavement. Divorce etc., as well as the corporate and team environments. It’s quite usual for individuals to be considered as a star in one team and then fail when moved into another.

At the Performance Practice we see an active process in successful entrepreneurial companies of a ‘live’ testing of resilience, and a development of competence over many years. The senior core of managers will have usually been in the team for a long time – their strengths and weaknesses are known. Their internal relationships/networks are solid and have been built up slowly. This testing is not possible in organisations which are unable to, or choose not to, grow their own talent.

As such the concept of AQ is attractive, particularly in turbulent times when organisations, their HR teams, and recruitment agents try to reduce the risk of new hires and promotions. But is it really a break through or is it an attempt to codify elements of experience, knowledge and maturity? When markets change fundamentally and the risk management software is no longer so effective in predicting outcomes, knowledge and competence really matter – and the individuals who have that are likely to be older, more expensive and harder to manage.

Next steps
• Talk to us about how to making this ‘hard’ soft stuff easier and improving practical performance management skills.

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