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A Veteran’s Perspective

Start Your Transition on the Right Foot by Investing in Emotional Quotient.

By Jen Martínez, Associate Vice President
Employee Benefits – Specialty Insurance
Nationwide Mutual Insurance.

Participating in the civilian workforce for 20 years, the drill before heading out the door remains all too familiar for me: shined shoes, aligned belt, proper lapel pin, etc. Does this resonate? If so, it’s because habits for the 21 million veterans currently in the labor force are often lifelong in nature. These innate behaviors go beyond aesthetics and can subconsciously cause missteps during transition. To start off on the right foot, I recommend investing in your emotional quotient (EQ).

Invest in Your EQ.

Beginning at the enlistment process, I experienced a plethora of assessments that measured my intelligence quotient (IQ). Veterans are praised for their performance on such assessments through promotions and assignments. Today, IQ remains relevant though it is more and more balanced with a candidate’s EQ. Science journalist, Daniel Goleman, describes EQ as “how you manage yourself and your social relationships.” EQ is organized in four components:

• Self-awareness
• Self-management
• Social awareness
• Relationship management

Recently, I became aware of continued opportunities to strengthen my EQ after curating a high-level executive visit. The visit was well-organized and highly regimented, yet I learned the executive’s expectations were different afterwards. They were informal and preferred less regiment. I wonder… if I had really listened to planning calls and deepened relationships (EQ) versus focusing on project management (IQ), would I have noticed subtle hints of preferences to ensure expectations were met?
You could use this example in multiple scenarios for transitioning veterans. A first interview with subtle clues about an interviewer wanting to dig deeper into a question but the veteran moving on after a short, concise answer. Perhaps it’s a transitioning veteran’s first chance to present a project to peers that is received with quiet glances because of a top-down briefing approach. Or it could be a veteran’s frustration with a new leader because their style is different and informal, and the veteran is struggling to build a strong relationship.
Below are initial resources to successfully navigate these types of scenarios. Veterans should also research prospective companies for clues on how they invest in their associates. Personally, I value Nationwide because they provide a holistic approach for veterans through mentoring, rotations, active associate resource groups, and leadership programs. In fact, my last development program spent considerable time on mindfulness and meditation because EQ is highly regarded as a core competency.

• Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry
• Emotionally Intelligent Leadership by Daniel Goleman

Setting Yourself Up for Success Today & Tomorrow

Jen Martinez. Fireman, U.S. Navy (former). 1995-1997.

Veterans may be skeptical of EQ. Who needs a Kumbaya moment? It appears we all do to compete in the workplace. The World Economic Forum’s 2016 Future of Jobs Report noted that by 2020, overall social skills like EQ “will be in higher demand across industries than narrow technical skills.” Driving this demand is disruption experienced across industries through trends like demographics, IoT, and fintech, to name a few.
Veterans who take time to invest in EQ will improve critical skills like agility, relationship building, stress management, curiosity, empathy, and decision making. Ultimately, they will successfully transition into highly sought talent to lead businesses and win with customers.

Jennifer (Jen) T. Martínez is Associate Vice President of Nationwide Employee Benefits (NEB), a $65M specialty insurance group within Nationwide Innovative Solutions based in Columbus, Ohio. She leads all aspects of sales, finance, and operations for NEB. Her leadership is focused on growth solutions, strategy execution, and culture to generate results like NEB’s milestone sales year in 2017. Jen joined Nationwide in 2013 with 12 years of experience in economic development, international trade, and manufacturing. Since then, her roles within Nationwide spanned from staff operations to call center and claims leadership roles. Jen is a first-generation, bilingual American who served in the U.S. Navy.

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