If you are paying attention to the latest trends in the workplace, then you already know that many organizations are moving away from function-based work structures and leaning more towards team-based workflows. In fact, according to a Deloitte study, 38% of companies and 24% of large companies have moved away from functional structures and moved towards dynamic networks of teams.[i] Many successful organizations are increasing organizational flexibility and capitalizing on teams’ collective intelligence while simplifying the way people work together.[ii]
As Work Culture Changes, Employees Need to Evolve As Well
As organizations reorganize for speed and agility to stay competitive, the teamwork model is found to be more efficient. In this model, teams are continually forming, disbanding, and reforming according to the needs of specific projects and customers.[iii] These workplace and team changes place different demands on employees. As the work culture changes, employees need to evolve as well. Employees need to be more adaptable, team-oriented and diversified.[iv] The best way for employers to prepare employees for teamwork success is by developing their interpersonal skills.
Interpersonal skills are the skills used by an individual to interact with others properly. In the workplace, Interpersonal Skills generally refer to an employee’s ability to get along with others while also getting the job done. [v]
In the 2018 Global Human Capital Trends report, with 11,000 HR and business leaders weighing in, it was discovered that 63% of respondents anticipate a growing requirement for complex problem-solving, and 52% anticipate a growing requirement for social skills. To that end, 70% of respondents believe workers will spend more time on collaboration platforms in the future.[vi]
Interpersonal skills are thought of as a soft skill. Employees with developed interpersonal skills are likely to be more productive than those with poor interpersonal skills. This is usually a result of the employee’s propensity to project a positive attitude and look for solutions to problems.[vii] Gallup research shows that some people are uniquely wired with natural patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior that accelerate their ability to adapt and perform with excellence even as circumstances around them change.[viii]
While some employees may inherently have strong interpersonal skills, others may fall short in this area. Fortunately, interpersonal skills are both learnable and can be developed. In fact, experts who specialize in teaching and training soft skills, say that developing Interpersonal Skills are foundational to creating strong employees, teams, leaders, and organizations.[ix]
How Your Organization Can Develop Employee Interpersonal Skills
There are many ways that organizations can develop interpersonal skills in the workplace. Jim Rohn once said, “Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people.”[x] By reinforcing and developing your employees’ interpersonal skills, you’re preparing them for success.
Here are a few attributes of interpersonal skills to consider;
Receptiveness to Feedback – Being open to feedback can significantly help employees grow and become better at their jobs. While no one likes to receive negative feedback, being open to new ways of thinking, new ways of approaching a project, or even an opposing point of view, constructive criticism can be invaluable. Allen Iverson, NBA Hall of Famer, said, “I didn’t take constructive criticism the way I should have. When I finally caught up to that, that’s when I went to being the MVP.”[xi]
Active Listening – Active listening is a way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding. Often when employees are engaged in a conflict, they are formulating a response to what is being said, rather than really listening to what is being said. Active listening is a focused form of listening and responding, where the attention is solely on the speaker.[xii] Active listening helps to avoid misunderstandings and shows that the employee respects the other employee by hearing their complete thought.
Body Language – Body language is the unspoken element of communication that employees use to reveal their feelings or emotions. It can be hand gestures, facial expressions, and even posture. For instance, defensive body language is exhibited when an employee’s arms are crossed, with tense facial expressions, or when eye contact is avoided. By showing employees ways to project positive body language you enable them to approach team members in a more receptive way.
Practice Empathy – Empathy is the ability to put one’s self in someone else’s shoes, and trying to understand how they might feel in a given situation. As part of the human condition, individuals can become self-absorbed and tend to look at things from their own perspective.[xiii] By encouraging employees to put themselves in their fellow employees “shoes,” you create awareness, a better sense of understanding, and hopefully better employee relationships.
[i] Staff, Investopedia. “Human Capital Trends 2016 – Out of Sync?” Human Capital Trends 2016 – Out of sync?
[ii] “Team-Based Organizations Are On the Rise.” Rise, 20 Mar. 2018, risepeople.com/blog/team-based-organizations/.
[iii] Gallup, Inc. “Strengths-Based Cultures Are Vital to the Future of Work.” Gallup.com, 13 Feb. 2018, news.gallup.com/opinion/gallup/226886/strengths-based-cultures-vital-future-work.aspx.
[iv] Gallup, Inc. “Strengths-Based Cultures Are Vital to the Future of Work.” Gallup.com, 13 Feb. 2018, news.gallup.com/opinion/gallup/226886/strengths-based-cultures-vital-future-work.aspx.
[v] Staff, Investopedia. “Interpersonal Skills.” Investopedia, Investopedia, 20 Apr. 2018, www.investopedia.com/terms/i/interpersonal-skills.asp.
[vi] Volini, Erica, et al. “Deloitte Study: 73 Percent Report C-Suite Isn’t Working Together | Deloitte | PR.” Deloitte United States, 16 May 2018, www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/press-releases/deloitte-study-report-c-suite-isnt-working-together.html.
[vii] Staff, Investopedia. “Interpersonal Skills.” Investopedia, Investopedia, 20 Apr. 2018, www.investopedia.com/terms/i/interpersonal-skills.asp.
[viii] Gallup, Inc. “The New Approach IT Companies Need.” Gallup.com, 6 June 2018, news.gallup.com/businessjournal/235295/new-approach-companies-need.aspx.
[ix] Bruce, Jan. “Why Soft Skills Matter And The Top 3 You Need.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 10 Mar. 2017, www.forbes.com/sites/janbruce/2017/03/10/why-soft-skills-matter-and-the-top-3-you-need/#45e82e3976f3.
[x] “Skills Quotes.” BrainyQuote, Xplore, www.brainyquote.com/topics/skills.
[xi] “Constructive Criticism Quotes.” BrainyQuote, Xplore, www.brainyquote.com/topics/constructive_criticism.
[xii] “Active Listening.” Genders 1998-2013, www.colorado.edu/conflict/peace/treatment/activel.htm.
[xiii] Marter, Joyce. “Practice Empathy for Better Relationships at Work and Home.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 7 Dec. 2017, www.huffingtonpost.com/joyce-marter-/empathy-_b_4483494.html.