Google’s Manifesto Mess: The Indisputable Case For EQ
The tech world and social media are aflame with the release of an internal manifesto drafted by a former Google employee. It’s essentially the idiot’s guide to reinforcing inaccurate stereotypes about women that’s founded on biased, archaic assumptions that have no place in this century.
Despite the fact that Google fired the author and had planned to hold a town hall meeting to discuss the company’s policy on diversity practices, the meeting was ultimately cancelled. The names of the employees who spoke out against the Manifesto were leaked online, which led to a widespread fear of employees being ‘outed’ for speaking up.
Yeah, what a mess.
There’s a deeper issue at play here beyond the content in the manifesto, Google’s reaction to it, and the internet’s response:
Emotional intelligence is king.
But what exactly is emotional intelligence (EQ)?
“…the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.”
- Daniel Goleman, psychologist and author of the best-selling book Emotional Intelligence.
People with high emotional intelligence can “see around corners” when it comes to cause and effect — specifically when it comes to being able to anticipate how other people will feel and react to their behavior.
Having analyzed over 100 different companies back in 2016 in pursuit of the formula for the perfect team, it was Google who discovered that the primary drivers of successful teams came down to the group’s level of emotional intelligence and degree of communication.
The mess that Google is navigating right now is a testament to the need for companies to prioritize EQ above all other traits when it comes to hiring and building teams.
No amount of technical brilliance or job competency is worth the garbage hurricane currently swirling in and around Google.
The subsequent negative media spotlight, the impact on Google’s social capital; the hits to their credibility and brand perception; the targeted online harassment including death threats of employees who voiced their concerns about the manifesto…
All of this happened because one employee acted with deplorable judgement and was unable to anticipate the repercussions of his actions.
It’s a must that organizations hire for emotional intelligence, ranking higher or at least equal to the ability to perform a role. The release of this manifesto is just another glaring example of the negative impact an employee with low EQ can have on their colleagues, organizational culture, and entire company.
While we won’t even begin to debunk the ludicrous biological claims put forth by Damore, we can turn inward to examine the four aspects that make up EQ and how Damore failed hard in each category, causing a lot of damage for himself, his colleagues, and Google.
- Self Awareness. The ability to recognize your moods and emotions, what causes them, and the impact your own behavior has on yourself and others.
- Social Awareness. Understanding the emotional makeup of other people and treating them with their emotional reactions in mind. The ability to comprehend how others feel, aka empathy.
- Self Management. The ability to control impulses, emotion, and behavior. Using good judgement and thinking before acting.
- Social/Relationship Management. Competency in managing relationships, building networks, finding common ground and creating rapport with others.
Let’s break it down one by one:
The defense that he’s ‘just one guy voicing his opinion as he sees it’ reveals a complete lack of self-awareness on Damore’s end. Bafflingly enough, he seems genuinely surprised that expressing such an unpopular and controversial opinion in this manner would bring on such a powerful backlash, including his being fired. He acted with little consideration of the impact his actions would have on him, his colleagues, and the company.
Employees with high self awareness EQ understand their own emotions and opinions, as well as what causes them and drives their own behavior. They are acutely aware of the impact their actions will have on themselves and others, and take this information into consideration before acting out.
Damore acted without regard that his memo would make female colleagues feel insulted, singled out, or attacked. He chose the least appropriate venue and context to share his opinions which shows a complete lack of self and social awareness. He wasn’t able to anticipate that Google doesn’t share his position on the manner and would obviously respond accordingly.
Making sweeping generalizations about any one group of people shows low empathy. Even after the chaos unfurled, Damore still adamantly stood by his position and refused to apologize, firmly maintaining that,
“It’s hard to regret it, just because I do believe that I’m trying to make Google and the world in general a better place, by not confining us to our ideological echo chambers where only one side of the story can be heard,” Damore told Bloomberg.
People with high degrees of empathy are more likely to take responsibility and apologize for any harm they may have caused rather than to defend why they did it.
Employees with high social awareness EQ anticipate how others will feel and react, and behave accordingly. They are more intentional in their words and actions and are quick to reject stereotypes. They understand that people are unique and what may be true for some is not true for all. They contribute less towards silos between departments and prioritize inclusive communication and behavior.
Here’s where things get interesting. The reason why Damore wrote the manifesto in the first place goes back to the fact that Google is currently locked in a legal skirmish…
“The post comes as Google battles a wage discrimination investigation by the US Department of Labor, which has found that Google routinely pays women less than men in comparable roles.”
…Damore has since filed a complaint against Google with federal labor officials, and said he spoke up because he was concerned about how Google hired its candidates.”
It seems as though Damore wanted to talk about a so-called “taboo” issue but had no idea how to go about doing so. Rather than try and take his complaints to a more appropriate forum (like to leadership or HR, for instance), he took things into his own hands and unleashed his controversial opinion for all to see, revealing an utter lack of good judgement and self control.
Employees with high self management EQ show self restraint, remain calm when emotions are high, and control what comes out of their mouths. They use better judgement and typically take accountability for their behavior instead of defending it.
Social Rapport & Relationship Management
You don’t build rapport with colleagues by insulting and alienating them. Damore’s document not only hurts his social standing and relationship with his employer, but also destroys the trust and credibility from his co-workers…which is exactly the opposite of building relationships.
It’s also very thoughtfully pointed out that this memo would go on to haunt him for the rest of his career. One former Google exec, Yonatan Zunger, sums it up in
“Do you understand that at this point, I could not in good conscience assign anyone to work with you? I certainly couldn’t assign any women to deal with this, a good number of the people you might have to work with may simply punch you in the face, and even if there were a group of like-minded individuals I could put you with, nobody would be able to collaborate with them. You have just created a textbook hostile workplace environment.”
Employees with high social management EQ work to find common ground and encourage collaboration, trust, and community. They work to resolve conflict and promote cohesiveness because they know the strength in networks and relationship building.
Look, everyone is entitled to an opinion. Diversity of thought and perspective is a healthy ingredient to any discussion, team, and organization. That being said, it’s imperative that you have employees who take accountability for what they say, how they say it, and their behavior and impact on others. Low EQ contributes to more conflict, toxic culture, worse customer experiences, and — without question — negatively impacts your bottom line:
“Pepsi found that executives with high EQs generated 10% more productivity, had 87% less turnover, brought $3.75M more value to the company, and increased ROI by 1000%. L’Oreal found that salespeople with a high EQ sold $2.5M more than others. And when Sheraton decided to incorporate an EQ initiative, their market share grew by 24%.”
If you do one thing as a company, hire for EQ.
Make it a non-negotiable deal breaker when creating and building your teams and culture. Talent and technical skill are easy to come by, but candidates with high EQs are worth their weight in gold. If you’re looking for some tips on how to do that, Harvard Business Review’s Annie McKee has a great piece on how you can hire with emotional intelligence in mind.
If you’re still not convinced, just ask Google what kind of damage can be caused by just one employee without it.