It is a known fact by now that diversity is the name of the game in today’s workplace and we are getting increasingly global by the minute with people from different parts of the world coming together to work. Diversity is not just people with different gender, ages, accents and cultures but more significantly different personalities. Therefore, rules of engagement are critical for the team to not just work together but to succeed and deliver results. Work is no different than football game where team play is what brings home the cup. Either you win big or lose big in the game; therefore team players can either make or break the company. Team players have extraordinary people skills and as such, managers while hiring realize that people skills or interpersonal skills are at times more important than the hard skills required to perform the job.
In today’s world, technical skills and experience can only take you so far in your career and if people skills are lacking then the opportunities to go up the ladder become slim to none. Many times, the employees that get passed over for promotions due to lack of people skills don’t realize that their behavior is the reason for not moving up and they get frustrated with management and become even more difficult to work with for the rest of the team. It is a slippery slope and one frustrated person can ruin the environment for the entire team. Therefore, it is imperative that management pays close attention to the behavior of their employees not just with upper management but also with their peers.
Even if someone has great technical skills and is hitting their deadlines, he/she can be creating a stressful environment for others and as a result deterring the team from performing their best. For a company to be productive and successful it is important that everyone is performing at their best and highest potential and not just a handful of employees. So turning a blind eye on the bad behavior of an employee with good technical knowledge is a losing deal in the long run.
Some of the skills that managers look for in employees are keep calm under pressure, communicate effectively, listen well, empathize with others, provide constructive feedback, respond well to criticism, learn from their mistakes, be patient with the team, and problem solve collaboratively. It certainly is a tall order for an individual to possess all the above qualities but if broken down simply, to be a super employee is almost like being a parent to a two year old. The patience and trust you show towards a two year old is sometimes what is needed to work efficiently with co-workers. Spending 9 hours a day or more for five days a week with co-workers for years warrants sometimes same rules of engagement as family. Even though we come to work in suits with a guard of professionalism, it is necessary to understand that we are working with humans and a certain amount of sensitivity is required.
Companies that can build culture where employees that play well with others are recognized and rewarded get best results. This creates a highly productive and innovative environment when all the employees at workplace come to work happy and perform to their potential. The alternative of it is a toxic stressful workplace with bullies which is bad news not just for employees that go through mental stress, lack of career growth, and low bonuses due to individual and company performance but also companies that will have high employee turnover.
Below are few pointers for employees to develop people skills that can help build strong positive relationships that can work wonders for career and for companies to become a game changer.
Relate to others: “Do unto others what you want done to you” is something that is taught in schools and is a very important lesson that helps in business as well. By relating to others you understand their point of view which helps resolve conflicts. Sometimes relating to others simply means that you’re willing to agree to disagree with mutual respect. Having the ability to place yourself in someone’s shoes is a skill that can catapult you from a regular worker to exceptional superstar as it will help you predict other people’s response and agendas behind any issue.
Effective communication skills: Most fundamental and important people skill to be able to effectively communicate your ideas, persuade and influence others to make an impact. Half the battle is won if you have a gift for the spoken and written word. In fact, being articulate is a highly valued skill today as time is considered money and the workplace is increasingly global making it dependent on constant communication to succeed. If you can cut down meetings and email overload by communicating effectively then that is a huge win for companies and major career boost.
Good manners: The tone of the communication is very critical and you will have a better chance of getting a quick response and co-operation with friendly tone. So using simple ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ goes a long way in having good people skills and getting work done from your team.
Body language: Since non-verbal cues are at times more important than verbal exchange, it is important to be aware of body language. Therefore gestures, expressions, tone, and appearance can greatly help or harm a person in their ability to interact with others.
Sense of humor: This is one great skill to diffuse any situation and create a fun working relationship with peers. People are willing to do more work for fun and easy going people than uptight stern personalities.
Flexibility: Being hard-nosed is a personality attribute that can not only be a problem for others but cause lot of heartburn for the person himself. Being able to shift gears and “go with the flow” is not a good-to-have quality but more like a requirement to succeed in work place. It also builds a solid reputation in the company and people would love to work with you as things are more fluid than predictable and concrete at work.
Active listening skills: Most of the times we hear something and half way through the sentence start forming a response or a question in your mind which makes you get only half truth. That causes a lot of misinterpretation, confusion, and repetition. Therefore actively listening skills can avoid some major unpleasant situations and conflicts and saves time for everyone involved.