Enhancing Your “People” Skills
Improving your people skills can have a positive impact in the workplace and enhance your ability to relate to people in social settings.
By developing these skills you will communicate more effectively and build stronger professional relationships with co-workers, subordinates and superiors.
The following focus on enhancing your managerial people skills:
All organizations, whether they are manufacturers of a product, conducting scientific research, providing services, etc., have only four resources to utilize: people, money, material, and time. Most organizations will tell you that the most important ingredient is people. This is especially true in the service business.
The skills with which employees complete their tasks, their attitudes toward their work, and their behavior toward their guests, has immediate impact on the guest experience. Of course, behavior is much more important when providing a service, than when making a product.
Influencing employee behavior is perhaps the most important part of a manager’s job.
Maintain & Enhance Self-Esteem:
Behavior training is built around improving your employees' perceptions of self-competence. There is a direct impact of self-esteem on job performance. An employee who feels competent is much more likely to perform competently.
Build self-esteem by:
· Praising specific tasks/jobs
· Acknowledging contributions and accomplishments
· Giving special assignments
· Asking for their ideas
· Seeking their opinions
· Recognizing their feelings
· Giving tangible rewards
· Noting important events about their lives
· Supporting their actions
· Asking for help
· Sharing experiences
· Admitting when you're wrong
Focus on Behavior Not Personality:
Effective managers have the ability to reduce defensive behavior on the part of their employees. This is particularly necessary when discussing job-related problems such as complaints, poor performance, and poor work habits.
When you focus on personality traits of the person, you increase the odds of eroding the employee’s self-esteem. In such a situation, it would be typical for your employee to become defensive and engage in mechanisms that deny, falsify, or distort reality. One way of reducing defensive behavior is to focus on the work problem or the behavior, rather than on your employee’s personality or attitude.
Use Reinforcement Techniques to Shape Behavior:
Because behavior is a function of its consequences, reinforcement techniques are a potent method of changing behavior – either strengthening desirable behavior or diminishing undesirable behavior.
There are four strategies that you can use to change behavior: positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, punishment, and extinction.
· Positive Reinforcement: One way to increase the likelihood of a performance or behavior re-occurring is to follow that performance with a positive event. A positively reinforced response has a greater probability of re-occurring simply because it pays off.
· Negative Reinforcement: Another way of increasing the likelihood of an event re-occurring is through the use of negative reinforcement. Negative reinforcement increases the likelihood of a desired response by improving or eliminating adverse conditions. For example, if by using the guest’s name, the employee no longer hears complaints from you, then the behavior of using the name is negatively reinforced.
· Punishment: One way to decrease the likelihood of re-occurrence of a behavior, is to follow the behavior with an unpleasant event (i.e. verbal counseling, or a written reprimand).
· Extinction: Another way of decreasing the likelihood of the re-occurrence of a behavior, is to have the behavior followed by no response. Subsequently, the lack of reinforcement or response, may extinguish the behavior (i.e. response to someone who gossips).
“Actively” Listen for Feeling and Content:
One tool that will aid you in effectively leading your people is the skill of active listening. The term “actively listening” or “empathetic understanding” means the ability to pick up, define, and respond accurately to the FEELINGS expressed by the other person. When active listening is employed, the person perceives that he is being understood. This perception frees him/her to explore his/her own feelings, to express his/her own ideas, and to rely less on defensive behavior.
Active listening encourages your employees to think for themselves, to diagnose their own problems, and to discover their own solutions. Active listening conveys trust and is one of the most effective ways of helping a subordinate become self-directing, responsible, and independent.
Maintain Communications and Set Specific Follow-Up Dates:
Often, the most effective solutions to an on-the-job situation can be determined only if open communications are established and maintained between managers and employees. The “boss”, can always speak up and make use of his/her “high potency” position. A good manager encourages employees to talk more freely, encouraging them to offer personal reactions, opinions, suggestions, and problem-solving ideas in a non-defensive manner, which builds their self-esteem, self-confidence, competence, and personal involvement.
By providing a specified time to review matters currently being discussed, you can provide practical structure to your interactions with employees as well as built –in opportunities for re-evaluation, reinforcement, and even further communication. Encourage your employees to take the initiative to provide more input or suggestions at the next meeting.