Dove Nest Group

Emotional Intelligence Toolkit for Graduates

Companies want to attract the best talent. This often translates into recruiting graduates with both the right aptitude scores and the right technical skills. But what about behaviour? Technical ability alone doesn’t guarantee operational effectiveness. What was historically referred to as ‘people skills’ is probably more accurately described as ‘Emotional Intelligence’. This post will explore three themes: (i) how to develop an Emotional Intelligence toolkit for graduates, (ii) how might this benefit both the graduate and the organisation, and (iii) how can organisations ensure their new Graduates develop these tools?

Graduates are often recruited on the basis of their technical skills and qualifications, which seems great on paper as Organisations can ‘prove’ they hire the best in graduate talent. However, technical abilities are not the sole guarantee of operational effectiveness.

“Emotional Intelligence, or the ability to understand your effect on others and manage yourself accordingly – accounts for nearly 90% of what moves people up the ladder, when IQ and technical skills are roughly similar”

– ‘What Makes a Leader’ Harvard Business Review Jan 2004

Dove Nest has a long track record of providing clients with behavioural and emotional intelligence modules as part of their graduate programmes. Several programmes utilise the EQi 2.0 model to help graduates develop their emotional intelligence toolkit. The EQi model is a self-assessment psychometric tool, originally developed by MHS. The survey is completed by graduates, resulting in a comprehensive EI report, which is then fed-back through a one to one coaching session. The report provides an insight into the individual’s Emotional Intelligence, highlighting areas of confidence and areas for development. The programme provides a framework of 5 key ‘tools’ and 15 more detailed ‘sub-tools’:

The underlying philosophy of EI is to start with oneself. Understanding one’s own emotions is the critical foundation upon which the skills of emotional intelligence can be developed. This approach positions EI as underpinning the whole development programme, as opposed to being one of several modules in the programme. It’s an important difference: EI should not be equated with a management skill such as learning how to delegate, or how to make decisions. Although these skills are useful, they are often deployed when and where the situation demands. In contrast EI is something that constantly informs and influences behaviour, relationships and interactions.

We reflect this approach in how we deliver EI to graduates.  Emotional Intelligence content is introduced very early in our graduate development programmes. Each participants’ individual EI report stays with them, accompanying them throughout their progressession through the programme. In summary, to get the best from graduates and Emotional Intelligence, it’s better to have the EI content start early, run throughout the programme and ultimately underpin the whole programme. In terms of results, the overwhelming amount of empirical evidence supports this approach, and it is this which we will focus on next.

The feedback from participants confirms the benefit of EI development, with participants reporting that they gained;

In terms of applying the learning, it doesn’t mean that Graduates suddenly become expert. But what it does do is provide them with a deeper understanding, a common vocabulary and a more developed theory of mind. In short, not only do they begin to understand how they might be feeling in a situation, but they also start to empathise with how others might also be feeling.

Adding emotional intelligence to a graduate’s toolkit can complement their technical abilities.

“Emotional intelligence is not the triumph of heart over head, it is the unique intersection of both.” – David Caruso

So, what might be the benefits for the Organisation at large? One benefit is clear; with every graduate who comes into the organisation better equipped with Emotional Intelligence, the more emotionally intelligent the whole organisation becomes. If people learn from behaviour modelling, or mimicking the behaviours of others, then the ripple effective of EI is a positive.

“A high EQ helps individuals to communicate better, reduce their anxiety and stress, defuse conflicts, improve relationships, empathize with others, and effectively overcome life’s challenges”.  – Paula Durlofsky

So with better communication, lower stress and anxiety, better relationships and less conflict, many of the barriers to organisational effectiveness can be overcome or at least mitigated. In this sense, Emotional intelligence may not specifically contribute to organisational effectiveness, but its presence in organisations can remove some of the obstacles, which stand in the way of effectiveness.

(iii) how can organisations ensure Graduates develop their Emotional Intelligence toolkits?

As aforementioned, at Dove Nest we have provided multiple clients with Emotional Intelligence programmes for their graduates’ development. Although the total number of graduates who complete programmes is something to be justly proud of, it shouldn’t be considered the final measure of how successful the learning has been. What happens after the programme also contributes to success. Echoing the sentiments of last weeks’ article, it is the opportunity to practice these new skills which really makes the difference.

Taking the toolkit metaphor, it’s not enough to just give graduates the tool kit, if those tools just sit un-used, slowly rusting and dulling over time. To really get the best from the EI toolkit, graduates need to be encouraged to take them out and test them. Whether it’s learning a language or a new sport, spending time practising and learning ultimately make the most difference when it comes to skill. EI is no different.

To ensure that EI skills are practised and embedded, the organisation must also make the decision to increase its Emotional Intelligence. There’s no point in sending graduates out to learn about EI if, when they return to the workplace, it’s business as usual – and “EI is not how we do things around here”. It is unfortunate that a significant percentage of graduates, having completed their development programmes, are not retained by their organisations. If there’s a disconnect between what new skills have been learned and the opportunities to put them into practice in the workplace, then it’s not a surprise that graduates might not stick around waiting for the organisation to change.


“Of all the people we’ve studied at work, we’ve found that 90% of top performers are also high in emotional intelligence.”

Travis Bradberry Forbes – Emotional Intelligence

This article began with the statement that companies want to attract the best talent.

It’s clear that talent can take many forms:  technical skill, intelligence or specific proficiencies. However, Emotional Intelligence is increasingly highlighted as making the difference between average and above average performance. It is no surprise therefore that organisations, having identified the benefits of EI, have built their graduate development programmes on the foundation of an EI framework.

Here are some suggestions on how to get the most from Emotional Intelligence programmes, based on our experience of delivering client solutions.

For more information or to talk with our programme managers about Emotional Intelligence please get in touch and email us at, or call us on 015395 67878.