Emotional Intelligence – the power behind enhanced performance

Attracting and retaining the best talent requires a different angle. Millennial graduates are looking to get as much out of an organisation in terms of development as the company gets out of them in terms of endeavour. And yet, clearly, graduates are by no means the finished product. Their biggest drawbacks lie in their ability to manage relationships in the workplace with maturity. This dichotomy has been cracked by some organisations in the way they manage their training. Zappos, Facebook and Google have all invested in significant initiatives to improve emotional intelligence in their employees. Organisations like Xerox, Opentext and UPS have focused on training their employees in performance under pressure. In doing so, these companies have become the envy of many in terms of attracting and retaining top talent.


Emotional Intelligence

A person’s Emotional intelligence (EI) and the resulting Emotional Quotient (EQ) has been widely proven to be the best measure of future success in the workplace. An employee’s EQ tells employers whether they can work collaboratively, the depth of their communication skills, their leadership potential, and even how well they’ll be able to learn from their mistakes. And yet, if we value it so highly, what are we doing to develop it in our graduates and in our workplace teams?

Last year I was lucky enough to spend a CPD week with The Navy Seals at their training base in San Diego. Their command Psychologist Ryan Maid explained to me how important EQ was for a really high level of performance as a Navy Seal. They admitted that they had made mistakes in the past. Previously, their selection process had only ever allowed for recruits to drop themselves out based on the extremely arduous training and selection process. In their own words, this sometimes produced guys who could simply take a beating better than the next guy. So they introduced EQ training in respect of challenging interactions. How else could they prepare their recruits in the best way possible and as part of a team?

EI Image

Performance Under Pressure 

The most powerful thing I learned, when visiting the elite rugby environment in New Zealand, was that focusing your attention on the things within your control and not the things that are outside of your control is one of the greatest things you can do for your own performance. Knowing the difference is key. A really powerful example of this came from one of the All Blacks players during the 2011 world cup. In that tournament, captain Richie McCaw played the knock out stage games with what later turned out to be a broken bone in his foot. McCaw had hurt his foot in the group stages but in the lead up to the tournament, he had devoted a huge amount of time to the concept of focus of attention as a foundation for his physical training. So after he heard the crack in that group stage match, he decided not to have it x rayed until after the tournament had ended. In all likelihood, any x ray would reveal a break. He had resolved that he could get through the knock out stages anyway. So why shift his attention onto the reasons why he could not.

What McCaw and his team mates had done was become self-aware of their thoughts and when they drifted into the negative. They did this with the help of a performance psychology technique. They became able to recognise these thoughts as being negative or Red Head, to accept them and consequently they were able to simply choose to move their focus back to the present, to a calmer more accessible Blue Head state by focusing on what they could control. I was lucky enough to see some of my colleagues from Gazing Performance in action when I visited those teams, and was blown away by the emphasis the coaches were placing on this concept, on their insistence that it was the “soft skills which delivered the hard skills”.

Over the course of the past year, I have seen first-hand just how valuable these soft skills of EQ and Performance Under Pressure actually are and how they can be adapted into programs for relationship management, for sales, for management, for leadership. Like many things in life, these are skills that can be acquired. As a new graduate or as part of a team, these are the skills that will separate the best performers from the rest and the best talent will inevitably gravitate to where they can get the best training.



Conor McCarthy is the Irish Partner with Gazing Performance Systems, a company best known for their Performance under Pressure work with The All Blacks prior to the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Gazing now work with graduates and teams of people in businesses all over the world to help them perform better under pressure. Conor has a BComm and a Masters in Applied Psychology (Coaching). In his work as a training and development consultant for Gazing, he has visited several elite performance environments. In this article, he explains the evidence base in support of employee training for performance under pressure training and emotional intelligence along with his experiences of watching these skills being developed at both the navy seals training base in California and in the elite rugby environments in New Zealand.

Twitter: @ConorMcCarthy


Tips for effective email marketing

Guest Blog by  gradireland Email Guru Katie Burns

There are lots of ways to advertise your graduate programme but email marketing is a force to be reckoned with! Here at gradireland we’re email enthusiasts who take pride in delivering the best graduate opportunities and advice to our engaged audience of students and graduates throughout the year.

Our email database is always growing as the magical word of gradirelands service spreads further and further throughout Colleges and Universities in Ireland. This means our dedicated email marketing team is always up to date on the latest and greatest trends in the email marketing world.  We work with our clients to ensure they’re getting the most out of the powerful information tool that is targeted emails. That being said, there are so many ways to communicate your message it can be hard to know if your email is the best it possibly can be.

We’re here to help! Here are five tips to ensure your targeted email is engaging your audience:

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Amplify your employer brand with social media

Employer branding has become a core element for organisations to attract the most talented graduates to your workplace. Your potential graduate candidates, Millennials and Gen Z, are digital natives spending up to 5.4 hours a day browsing different social media channels. This means that social media is one of the most effective tool to catch the attention of graduates.


Social media gives you the flexibility to allow prospective candidates to take a look inside your organisation, get an insight into its culture and values, to determine if it is the right organisation for them. In order to successfully implement social media to your employer branding campaign, it’s important to develop a social media strategy to complement your already existing employer branding campaign. We have put together some tips to consider;

Know your audience

Determining your target audience is very important when it comes to social media. In order to produce relevant content, you must be able to identify your audience’s demographics, interests and needs.  A lot of this information can be found by examining your existing social media audience on Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics as well as researching the Millennial or Gen Z audience. This information can be used to enhance your social media presence by producing relevant content that will attract your desired target market. Hubspot have introduced a really effective tool for identifying your companies specific target audiences, buyer personas. A free Hubspot guide to buyer personas is available here.

Generation z

Develop a different strategy for each platform

Social media platforms differ significantly in relation to audience and tone of voice. For example; the tone of voice and overall purpose of LinkedIn is much more professional and formal than that of Facebook. By knowing your audience and combining this with your overall employer branding objectives, you can develop effective strategies on each platform to reach your target market. A good example of a company that uses social media to attract talent is Version 1. In 2014 Version 1 introduced a Breaking Bad themed social media campaign to attract graduate talent. The campaign was based around a play on the television series titled ‘Breaking Grads’, with accompanying themed artwork. The campaign became a huge talking point among the target audience with its nod to popular culture at the time, while also giving students a taste of the Version 1 company culture.

Measure and adjust


Congratulations, you have launched you social media strategy! But now, you have to measure its effectiveness. To do this, you must outline the business objectives you would like to achieve through social media. These objectives could include an increase in candidate leads, more applicants or brand awareness to name just a few. Once these are identified, revert to your analytical tools to see if the social media strategy has met your desired objectives, if it has, great, if not don’t panic, just adjust and try again!

Social media is an amazing tool for employer brand amplification. This, combined with a comprehensive employer branding campaign, could put your organisation ahead of the competition for attracting graduate talent.

On the 27th of April, gradireland will host its annual Graduate Recruitment Awards at Dublin’s Mansion House. The following companies are nominated for Best Student Marketing Campaign Award sponsored by Pluto Events and Marketing Solutions: