Improving People Skills


CONTENTS 1) Introduction 2) Importance of People Skills 3) Techniques to Improve People Skills 4) Case Study 5) Conclusion 6) References 2 .

While an IT or engineering company may initially put more weight on technical skills when evaluating job candidates. They‘re ultimately the most valuable because they have the potential to go the furthest. Improving people skills include designing motivating jobs. skills to delegate authority and to create effective teams. they look for candidates who have both. managers need to improve their people skills such as communication skills. creating effective teams and techniques for improving interpersonal skill. Also they help people further their careers. HR professionals and headhunters classify skills into two categories. It is how well you communicate with someone and how well you behave or carry yourself. It also provides ways to modify their own behaviour as well as that of others. database management. driving a truck. Therefore. In the past. people skills are often described as:    understanding ourselves and moderating our responses talking effectively and empathizing accurately Building relationships of trust. hard skills and soft skills. thus improving their interpersonal skills and perform once on the job. respect and productive interactions.1 INTRODUCTION According to the Portland Business Journal. People skills are key to the success of managers. 3 . Interpersonal skills involve using skills such as active listening and tone of voice. ―Hard‖ skills are easier to define because they apply to a specific function – computer programming. designing a house or office building (architect). many organizations considered hard skills more important than soft ones when considering job candidates. Organizational behaviour provides some useful insights to improve people skills of managers. they include delegation and leadership. on the other hand. embrace all the interpersonal relationships vital to selling a company‘s products or services. piloting a plane. It enables them to learn about their own behaviour as well as the behaviour of others. Soft skills. building a cabinet (carpenter) or wiring a building (electrician).

thus improving their interpersonal skills and perform once on the job.‖ 4 .-based executive coach and career counsellor. ―As they move up the organizational ladder people skills become even more important. Mich. also important is your ability to develop your people skills.‖ says Agno. It enables them to learn about their own behaviour as well as the behaviour of others.‘ take tough stands and create strategic plans. skills to delegate authority and to create effective teams. The success of a project often rests on the understanding of related people and management issues. technical skills can only get you so far.‖ according to John Agno. an Ann Arbor. Without these skills. Therefore. The most important qualities you can bring to your job are technical skills and the ability to complete tasks well. ―But when they bomb. Career success is about finding a balance between technical and interpersonal skills. OB provides some useful insights to improve people skills of managers. it is usually because of poor or mediocre people skills. rather than technical issues. managers need to improve their people skills such as communication skills. However. ―Executives are promoted for their abilities to ‗bring in the numbers. People Skills Open Career Doors The quality of interpersonal or people skills is one of the important reasons rank-and-file employees are promoted to management positions. OB also provides ways to modify their own behaviour as well as that of others. IMPORTANCE OF PEOPLE SKILLS People skills play a key role in the success of managers.2.

This breakdown in communication that is caused by misinterpretation and misunderstanding is called communication dissonance. However. as well those who they are communicating with in order to enhance the communication process. Effective communicators are motivated to understand themselves. Express Your Thoughts and Feelings Clearly Teams need people who speak up and express their thoughts and ideas clearly. in order to communicate effectively. effective interpersonal communication is a person's ability to interact and adjust to others from various backgrounds. when speakers have different cultural assumptions. You can‘t read the minds of people around you. the way in which they communicate is often very similar. and with respect for others and for the work of the team. Understand How People communicate especially in Intercultural communication Culture affects every aspect of our lives. and respectful manner. 5 . Dissonance can occur both intentionally and unintentionally. directly. as well as how one's culture influences one's own communication. understanding how people communicate is imperative to better communication. Such a team member does not shy away from making a point but makes it in the best way possible — in a positive. Therefore.3. one must have an understanding of how others' cultures impact the way in which they communicate. confident. When people come from the same or similar cultural backgrounds. so don‘t expect them to intuitively know what you are thinking or feeling either. Therefore. That's what it means to communicate constructively. honestly. This applies to your team members and your boss. 2. which means they often interpret similar meanings and have similar perceptions of when and how it is appropriate to use certain types and styles of communication. In order to become an effective intercultural communicator. and intra-culturally and interculturally. the possibility of communication breakdown significantly increases. including communication. Dissonance can occur for multiple reasons. but essentially comes down to the inability to understand what is meant by what is said. Therefore. IMPROVING PEOPLE SKILLS 1. you must first understand why communication is sometimes hindered between people from different cultures.

Ask for Feedback from Others and Give Quality Feedback in Return Your organization may have a formal performance appraisal process in place that managers are required to follow. This should be part of your people skills portfolio all by itself. Morality Creativity Spontaneity Problem-solving Acceptance of fact Prejudice Self-esteem Confidence Achievement Respect Depersonalize this discussion again. But “review time” can be a tense and nerve-wracking time for everyone involved because that‟s usually when money and promotions are discussed . personal as well as professional. Remember to use appropriate body language and observe the other person‘s body language. Speak up When Your Needs are Not Being Met Chances are the need you have that is not being met is related to one of the things this list. In all your relationships.If you are angry or frustrated. Don‟t place blame.requiring your very best people skills. 4. 6 . not the person. take a few minutes to cool down then find a quiet place to communicate with the person who is the source of your anger or frustration. Let them know not only how you think and feel but why you think and feel the way you do. ―you are‖ – anything that smacks of finger pointing. Discussing feelings won‘t be confrontational if you depersonalize it – talk about the issue. Be sure you resolve the issue or it will keep popping up again until you do. Avoid using ―you‖. Be willing to accept the fact that an unrealistic expectation on your part might be part of the problem. this is an essential people skill. So don‟t let that become the only time you provide performance feedback to your team members. 3. Address the issue.

looking for things done right that you can praise Praise in person. Toastmasters International teaches a useful.One-minute goal-settings      Keep them simple Make sure you both agree on them Have your team members summarize agreed-upon goals in writing on no more than one page Focus on the 20% of activities that will lead to 80% of the gains (The Pareto Principle) Don‟t make the process of managing too many goals overwhelming – no more than 3 – 6 at a time One-minute praising‟s     Pay close attention to team members starting up front Monitor their activity. 5.or “Commend. praise the positive One-minute reprimands         Don‟t let mistakes pile up! Immediately correct mistakes – don‟t wait until review time to bombard someone Be consistent Be specific – agree on the facts Be clear about how you feel about poor behaviour Don‟t attack the person – address the behaviour. Influence How Others Think and Act “The idea is to inform people into „yes‟ (influence them) rather than coerce or deceive them” (exert power). Recommend. Commend”. 7 . informal feedback technique: CRC . not the individual After communicating dissatisfaction with behaviour. Of all your people skills this one will work to your advantage most frequently. specifically pointing out what was done well Be consistent – even if you‟re having a tough day or week. praise the individual Establish the fact that you are sharing your disappointment because you respect them and expect so much from them Also.

     Consistency: People will uphold their stated commitments. Getting it done. Cialdini learned that the key to influencing how people respond is not as much in the request itself as the way the request is made – you have to sell it. 6. These six principles can be adapted to any industry one is a part of. they are relying on the authority of medical professionals to influence consumers. even if it was unsolicited. Know the people involved and the organizational ramifications of a particular conflict use your own judgment about the best way to proceed. As part of your people skills agenda. People feel obligated to reciprocate when they receive a gift or favour. Look at all the ads that say “limited time only” or “while supplies last”. If an ad says “four out of five doctors recommend this product”. Scarcity: People want things (tangible and intangible) that are rare or scarce. a door-to-door charity campaign was found to be more successful when prospective donors were shown a list of neighbours who had already contributed. Why? Because the art of persuading creates “influence” which has a much longer professional lifespan than “power”? Power can be here today and gone tomorrow. What are the principles of persuasion?  Authority: People will defer to experts. For example.Robert Cialdini‟s six principles of persuasion move people to say “yes”. Bring Conflict to the Surface and Get it Resolved A formal negotiating or arbitration process tends to involve people who have little understanding of how and why the conflict occurred in the first place. 8 . putting it behind you and moving forward is the ultimate goal of conflict resolution. Reciprocity: People will repay in kind. it‟s your job as a manager or team leader to make your own decision about how you deal with conflict. After signing a petition in support of a social cause they feel obligated to back up a public statement. frequently leaving a whole new set of problems in its wake. but ethics are paramount. have no vested interest in finding a lasting resolution so the conflict can not only continue but ultimately spin out of control. Social Proof: People follow the lead of their peers. Liking: People like those who like them. Finding common interests and offering praise are two ways to foster liking.

Shift Gears When Relationships are Unproductive Albert Einstein once said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. dealing with conflict or any major challenge. Sometimes you need to walk away – acknowledge that you„ve done everything you can do to make a relationship work. but when that doesn‟t work. 9 . There‟s no magic bullet to fix broken work relationships. sometimes you need to jettison unhealthy cargo – a team member whose attitude is bringing everyone else down. or even hostile. Collaboration is defined as “working jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavour”. It‟s something you have to deal with using effective people skills. Sometimes an increase your level of assertiveness will resolve relationship issues. Sometimes you need to take drastic steps to regain balance and momentum if your relationship with your boss becomes unsupportive.7. but it just wasn‟t enough. sustainable solution when you are facing a problem. your team will think you don‟t trust them to do their jobs. If you are not a natural collaborator. even after you‟ve counselled him or her of the consequences of continued negative behaviour. this is a "must add" to your people skills list. you have some hard decisions to make and you are the only person who can make them. This is not the right approach. but not necessarily a win/win Competing – leaves the other person‟s needs unmet Collaboration is the maximum. Collaborate with Others The quickest way to bury yourself in a mountain of work is to try doing everything yourself. As the boss. 8. Sounds like a pretty good idea when you consider the alternatives:     Avoiding – solves nothing Accommodating – avoids confrontation but probably won‟t solve a problem Compromising – the easiest solution.

customer service. positive relationships with them. Here are a few pointers.  Face the firing line. you are the manager first and a friend second. you minimize the risk that a team member will misinterpret your friendship and behave in an unprofessional manner.9. Be clear about what your goals are. Finely tuned people skills require that you find a few degrees of separation.) must never be shared. By communicating these things clearly. other team members will quickly start to distrust you. If you favour certain team members because they are good friends. hiring and firing decisions.  Keep it confidential. In a case like this. You know what motivates them because you know their interests. the company‟s bottom line. hard look at the fact that this person‟s behaviour is impacting morale. quarterly earnings. But you are a manager now and you need to be careful to distinctly define the boundaries between you and your friends on the team. Step back and be sure that the way you treat your friends correlates more to what they do than how you feel about them. schedules. Sometimes a friend and team member isn‟t performing up to par. time spent fixing mistakes – in short. You need to be able to take a cold. resist the temptation to give them the “inside scoop”. how your team members are to help you accomplish them and what they can expect from you. etc. one advantage to having friendships with your employees is that you already have strong.  Clarify your relationship. No matter how close you are to any of your team members. Or even do anything that might be construed as favouritism.  Don‟t play favourites. Confidential information (salaries. 10 . Clearly Define Working Relationships As a manager. their families and their goals in life. Early in your role as a manager it will be tempting to rely on your friendships from your previous position.

The ongoing conflict had spread to their teams showing up as morale problems negatively affecting product quality and project schedules. and other serious problems due to interpersonal conflict and chronic misunderstandings. affluent client base. They realized that their conflict had negatively affected their teams and they wanted resolution. commercial and leisure market that should provide a young. we addressed gaps in skill. The two VP‘s have been operating with a higher level of cooperation and openness. The hotel is aimed at the corporate conference. offers a unique experience with caring and efficient staff. poor resource utilization. The Brehon hotel and spa set in an exquisite location in the South West of Ireland. improving productivity measures across the organization from the executive suite all the way down to the construction trailers on job sites.4. knowledge and self-awareness that prevented the VP‘s from operating effectively with each other and their teams. Action: Both executives had a genuine desire to get to the bottom of the conflict. Once rapport and trust were established in that first meeting. I was called in to provide an initial assessment of the issues and establish a dialogue between the two leaders. Newly built and opened. Case 2 The Brehon Case Study The Brehon hotel is part of the Gleneagle Group of companies. As president of The People Skills Group. they hired The People Skills Group to tackle the bigger issues of reducing organizational ―silos‖ and establishing a more productive working relationship. the 11 . CASE STUDIES Case 1 Situation: Two senior leaders of a Construction and Development company with over 500 employees and a diverse portfolio of national projects were at odds with each other. costing the company delays. inefficiencies. Results: Through our Become a 360 Leader program.

This was followed by all staff attending The Brehon Way Experience. communication and measurement. catered to a multi-cultural audience and was engaging. 12 . Design and delivery of The Brehon Way Experience was completed within 8 weeks. The learning environment was created to stimulate the senses thus increasing learning capacity. A management event was held to build management commitment to the brand and help them to identify what they needed to do to lead The Brehon Way. Success was measured through customer feedback on their experience in the Hotel and discussed in department and management meetings. programme roll out. We created The Brehon Way Experience. It was important that employees understood what that meant for them in terms of behaviour towards each other and towards the delivery of The Brehon customer team needed to orientate multi cultural staff to the brand and what it meant in terms of customer service delivery. The Brehon Way Experience now forms part of the new starter orientation programme and is also linked to Ireland's Best. notable results included staff telling stories to the customers about The Brehon and how the brand was created. The People Skills Business designed an event that was suitable for all levels of staff. The project was managed and facilitated by The People Skills Business in partnership with Senior Management and included a management engagement session. The design centred on all aspects of the brand and included a combination of discovery exercises and group work. The debate centred on how to recreate the story of The Brehon and communicating that story to employees in a unique and engaging way. a government quality initiative. Following the event.

No matter how hard you work or how many brilliant ideas you may have.5. All of these tools will ultimately help you succeed in today‘s working world. if you can‘t connect with the people who work around you. you must communicate with people all the time. It is when you use your communication skills that real improvements in relationships and in problem solving become possible.How you are perceived by your manager and coworkers plays a large role in things as minor as your day-to-day happiness at the office and as major as the future of your career. Using them when it really matters is the difficult part. 13 .As a professional. CONCLUSION The importance of interpersonal skills cannot be discounted in an organization. The good news is that there are several concrete things that you can do to improve your social skills. your professional life will suffer. Acquiring the skills of good communication is not difficult.

ii. v. financialpost.wikipedia. REFERENCES i.6. Human Capital 14 . ehow.

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