I had a recent interaction with a friend at a network event who wanted to know what skills would be required to get ahead in their career. Now I know you may be asking the same question so I thought I’d share some insight on the topic.
Some essential skills include increasing your visibility, getting others to perceive you in a positive light, developing your executive presence and having strong interpersonal skills.
What are interpersonal skills? A general definition would be that interpersonal skills are the skills required to effectively communicate both verbally and non-verbally. However this doesn’t end there, it also includes:
- Communication Skills, which in turn include:
- Verbal Communication – What we say and how we say it.
- Non-Verbal Communication – What we communicate without words, body language is an example.
- Listening Skills – How we interpret both the verbal and non-verbal messages sent by others.
- Team-Working – Working with others in groups and teams, both formal and informal.
- Negotiation, Persuasion and Influencing Skills – Working with others to find a mutually agreeable (Win/Win) outcome.
- Conflict Resolution and Mediation – Working with others to resolve interpersonal conflict and disagreements in a positive way.
- Problem Solving and Decision-Making – Working with others to identify, define and solve problems, which includes making decisions about the best course of action.
It goes without saying that interpersonal skills are essential in any career or business as person-to-person interaction is required at any level and for virtually any job. Here is why every manager needs interpersonal skills:
It makes you relatable
With good interpersonal skills, your colleagues and even your managers positively perceive you as an approachable person. Coworkers are more comfortable interacting with you when seeking your assistance and advice. You’ll find that people become easier to work with, and you can engage with them more meaningfully, making your productivity more fruitful.
Increases Credibility and Customer Satisfaction
You show dedication to customer service and support when you’re able to interact well not just with your coworkers, but with your consumers. Diplomacy is imperative because you use it to represent and market on behalf of the company you work for and your employer. Customers see that you don’t compromise on productivity, that you are aware of their needs and are willing to act on their queries and listen to their input on the products and services you offer.
They Make You an Effective Leader
A leader without the ability to connect with his/her team will inevitably fail, or lose valuable members of that team resulting in the loss of productivity or burdening other employees with the work left behind. Effective leaders identify with their own weaknesses and look to turn them into strengths as soon as possible. They gather insight, spend hours learning and sharpening their tools, thus making them competent and ready to deal with any challenge that may arise.
Keeps the Feedback Loop Open
Most companies attempt to create a dynamic workplace, which adapts quickly not only to internal but also to external variables. An important component for a dynamic workplace is effective communication and an open feedback loop. If you are unfamiliar with the term it is essentially the communication that happens between a task-giver and a task-completer. During the process, as the person performing the task completes steps, they may ask for feedback from the supervisor that gave them the task. The manager then either tells the employee or person that they are doing well or to perform appropriate adjustments. Then this cycle or “loop” is repeated. The reasons why a feedback loop might break down are multiple but undeniably linked to interpersonal skills:
- Not being approachable
- Not being present both mentally and physically
- Lacking overall communication with your subordinates
An extremely damaging behaviour that is very frequently seen is allowing the task to be completed and then giving the person feedback afterwards, especially if they asked for feedback previously and were denied it. It can affect productivity, morale and the quality of work produced. There is nothing worse than a person pouring hours of labour into a project only for a manager to come and tear it all down.
I hope these add value to you, let me know your thoughts on the relevance of interpersonal skills?
Founder and CEO of Elite Performers. Shiraaz is a Leadership, Career Coach and NLP practitioner who writes on leadership and management challenges. He also targets other areas of personal and professional development.