Evaluating Emotional Intelligence (EQ) in Employee Performance Reviews

Posted by Dave • December 12, 2019 (Last modified February 12, 2021) • 4 min read

Think about your favorite people you’ve worked with. Yes, they were good at their jobs but that is probably not why you remember them so fondly. In all likelihood, it was the attitude they brought to work every day that stands out. Great colleagues are friendly, supportive, encouraging, and an overall positive presence in the workplace. 

Unfortunately, people aren’t formally taught how to be great colleagues. It takes years of life experience and self-awareness to learn what we can do better when working alongside others.

Using a modern performance review process, your organization can assess employees on a wide range of factors, including emotional intelligence (commonly referred to as EQ). The evaluation and ensuing conversation between employee and manager help each team member learn how they can improve at conducting themselves in a professional setting. 

The profile of an emotionally intelligent employee

Most of us intuitively know what emotional intelligence is. We’ve seen the full gamut of how people handle their emotions and understand there are right and wrong ways to express our feelings. 

But before we move forward, the official definition of EQ from Psychology Today is worth getting familiar with:

“Emotional intelligence is generally said to include at least three skills: emotional awareness, or the ability to identify and name one’s own emotions; the ability to harness those emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes both regulating one’s own emotions when necessary and helping others to do the same”

The workplace presents challenges we don’t experience in other areas of life. And given that our jobs take so much of our time and energy, we must remain level headed when things get tough. Let’s apply the three factors in the above definition to common work experiences and build a profile of an emotionally intelligent employee:


When a bout of stress inevitable hits an employee, they must stay composed and do whatever stress relievers work best for them. They should also work to resolve the source of the stress by effectively managing their time or discussing priorities with their manager. And if they see a teammate is having a hard time, they should offer a helping hand. 

Feedback acceptance and delivery

A great employee is open to how they can improve at what they do. They take feedback to heart and try to incorporate it into their work. And effective managers know how to deliver feedback in a calm and straightforward way, using examples to support their claims.


No one does their job perfectly. Employees should accept when they failed to reach a goal and avoid making unreasonable excuses or blaming others. They should also commit to learning from the experience and make strides to do better next time. 

Workplace presence

Regardless of their place on the org chart, employees should be friendly and supportive to everyone they work with. That means treating colleagues with respect and collaborating with others to accomplish common goals that help the organization succeed.


Emotional intelligence doesn’t mean unrelenting positivity. Things go wrong at work and employees should notice issues and resolve them with tact. That might require having tough conversations in a calm yet direct manner. 

Personal growth

Self-awareness and a desire to grow are cornerstones of EQ. Employees should already have an idea of how they can improve at expressing their emotions and interacting with others during challenging situations. 

Integrating EQ into employee performance reviews

Evaluating employees on imprecise factors like emotional intelligence requires a delicate approach. We recommend using a documented, HR-lead performance review process where employees are evaluated on a range of competencies, including the following EQ-focused criteria: 

  • Communication – Assess an employee’s ability to voice reasonable concerns or have other challenging conversations in a healthy way. 
  • Collaboration – Ensure employees are willing to work with direct team members and colleagues from other departments to accomplish broad organizational objectives. 
  • Attitude – Evaluate how receptive employees are to direction and feedback, as well as how they deal with stressful situations. 
  • Interpersonal skillsEven though you have introverted employees, make sure team members are kind to each other and make the workplace a pleasant environment. 
  • Culture adherenceIf you have specific organizational values, consider how well employees embody each one. 

Additionally, you should create an employee performance review process that emphasizes emotional intelligence. The points below will help you evaluate EQ from all angles: 

  • Consider 360-degree evaluations – Collect feedback from colleagues, direct reports, and other people each employee works with so you get a thorough assessment of their EQ.
  • Use self-assessments – Ask employees to evaluate themselves so you learn if they’re aware of their emotional strengths and weaknesses and what personal strides they’re making.
  • Praise EQ like you would job performance – Instead of only calling out great work, also publicly recognize when employees navigate tough situations or go out of their way to help a colleague. 

Bring emotional brilliance to your workforce

The simple act of including EQ factors in your performance reviews will help each employee consider if they’re the best person they can be in the workplace. They’ll see your organization values emotional intelligence as much as job performance and will harness all their feelings into productive and supportive energy. 

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