People Skills Your Employees Need to Make a Difference
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Whether you run a software development firm or a high-tech call center operation, your team define the terms of your success. Technical qualifications, experience, and talent are ineffective when group dynamics aren’t strong. People skills bridge the gaps between job ability and process sharing to ensure your team achieves its goals.
But what are people skills? Aren’t they innate and can’t be learned? How could training possibly help employees?
Defining People Skills
What does it mean to have people skills? More than being naturally friendly, people skills allow us to communicate and cooperate with others to achieve a goal. This blend of personal outlook and social skills savvy are found in all highly valuable team members. Contrary to the idea that people skills aren’t something that can be learned. They can be honed and developed over time. Some characteristics of good people skills include:
- The ability to communicate clearly and effectively. If writing is a big part of the job, this could include grammar and spelling skills. Being able to relay information is essential to any team setting.
- Empathy. According to researchers from the Alexander Technological Education Institute of Thessaloniki in Greece, empathy is the ability to understand another person’s thoughts and feelings. This is a vital component in effective communication and accountability.
- A positive attitude. This does not mean you blindly agree with the opinion of whoever is in charge. Rather, a positive attitude is the ability to direct energy in a constructive direction. This trait has problem-solving and time management applications.
- A sense of responsibility. Team members who take real ownership of a project are more likely to put in any extra effort needed to make it successful. A lack of responsibility is associated with lower productivity.
- The ability to negotiate. When visions clash, skillful compromisers always come out victorious. Strong negotiators make better managers.
All of these skills make teamwork more effective and productive. Employers should examine applicants for these qualities during the interview process. However, don’t discount a promising employee for lack of people skills. Instead, institute an improvement program for all of your employees to help foster these traits. Just like any skill, someone who doesn’t use their people skills and hone their abilities could see their skills degrade over time.
How Better People Skills Make Your Workplace More Productive
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Why should employers go through the trouble of setting up a workplace people skills training program? Here are ways of teaching people skills to your team positively impact your company’s future.
- Communication is a big part of good people skills. Employees who are able to express thoughts make it easier for others to collect data, answer questions, and complete their own duties. Clear communication makes mistakes and delays less likely.
- Empathy and responsibility are closely related qualities. An empathetic employee will show their understanding by doing everything they can to ease the burden on their teammates. That means taking responsibility for their own duties, showing up on time, and proactively helping others who are having a tough time.
- Positivity in the workplace is an important ingredient in any team dynamic. More than just a cheerleader, the positive employee often acts as the catalyst to process improvement. Their keen desire to do the best possible job drives others to contribute more.
People skills are the backbone of productive teamwork.
Tips for Training Employees on People Skills
Use these techniques to improve your team dynamics.
- Create social opportunities for team members. This can be as simple as a monthly potluck on the lunch hour. Bigger companies may consider creating an ambassador position. This person would be in charge of keeping morale high with contests, gifts, party planning, and encouragement.
- Give employees an outlet for comments and concerns. Place a slotted box in the breakroom for notes, provide a dedicated email address, or designate a staff member to collect and investigate requests. It is essential that employers address every concern that is brought forth.
- Having an issue with tardiness, sloppy production, or another important metric? Rather than focus on correcting those who don’t produce, create a program that rewards those who do well. Those who are reward-motivated will seek extra training opportunities or adjust their routine in order to achieve the bonus.
- Support your employees’ in continued education. Consider starting a tuition reimbursement perk. Educated employees are able to think more creatively, express themselves more clearly, and find better solutions to team problems.
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