Imagine this: you are looking to employ a new aged care coordinator.

On your desk are the best two candidates. The first is a 28 year old, who holds aged care qualifications, degrees and certificates galore, but little practical experience in aged care.

The other candidate is in her early 50's, has worked in a number of jobs including running a small business, and has most recently worked as a community care worker. She has raised a family and holds a certificate III in Aged Care.

Who is the best candidate?

EQ is an important consideration in the aged care industry where we work day in, day out with people and have to manage our responses to other people's emotions and actions.Now, I am not saying that we should ignore qualifications or relevant education, however, sometimes when organisations look to hire, there tends to be a skewed weighting given to hiring the person with the best qualifications, or a perceived high ‘intelligence quotient’, otherwise known as IQ.

Surely someone with a degree in aged care, or someone who has completed a Masters in Community Services, is the best person for taking on a management role and leading a team. After all, they have the industry knowledge and can obviously complete the administrative requirements of the role.

Indeed, they may well be the best person for the job, but evaluation of a person for a role should be based on more than just whether a person can pass an exam, or develop a research paper.

What about the person’s EQ – ‘Emotional Quotient’?

Emotional Intelligence is being aware of, and managing your own feelings; as well as knowing how your actions and words affect the people around you.

We can probably all remember that brilliant, but socially inept teacher or professor who knew their stuff, but made our educational lives a misery. Perhaps they couldn’t easily pass on the knowledge they held and bored us to tears, or had a short fuse and threw chalk at those they perceived to be ‘idiots’. These people would be described as having a low EQ, They find it hard to relate to the people around them.

Likewise a person, who has a plethora of degrees but is short on practical, hands on experience, may not fully understand the demands of running a rural or remote aged care program, where you often have to roll up your sleeves and get things done. They may lack the right social skills and empathy to relate effectively to clients and staff from a different culture to their own.

In the workplace, EQ should not be underestimated. In most cases, anyone can learn how to ‘do a job’; organisational policies and procedures can be followed and Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) can be ticked off. However, measuring the actual success of a person in their job role involves a lot more than just ticking boxes.

People in leadership roles, such as Directors, Managers or Team Leaders need to have well-developed self-awareness, self-discipline and empathy. This means they are able to relate to their clients, stakeholders and staff better.

In a nutshell, this means that they are better equipped to ‘respond’ to people and situations, rather than ‘react’.

While a solid background in aged care is seen as paramount to being a good aged care coordinator or manager, our experience has identified that it is sometimes the person with no direct aged care background, but a wealth of customer service experience, who is better able to manage staff and deal successfully with clients.

While not under-valuing the importance of knowledge and understanding of aged care programs and how to deliver quality care, those from a hospitality or customer service background may be better prepared for navigating their way through challenging interactions and negotiating effectively.

In short, we’ve been successful in training the right people to do the job; the right mindset and well-developed EQ has often been more helpful than a folder full of qualifications.

Managers and coordinators who have highly developed EQ promote a supportive environment, where clients, stakeholders and employees feel valued and heard.

This is also the key to building a good business!

Successful implementation of industry reforms requires managers to lead their team and clients through the change process. To do this effectively requires substance in our relationships with people, such as being able to build and maintain trust. It doesn’t take a genius to attract clients or staff, but it takes a special person to retain these same people.

To be emotionally intelligent in an industry that relies upon trusting relationships, is an undeniably important quality and should be the focal point when recruiting the leaders of today and tomorrow and is a quality we should strive to develop in ourselves.

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