Organisations must invest in and develop the interpersonal 'social' skills of their people to improve productivity and create growth.
Leadership guru Simon Sinek recently published a video in which with his usual enthusiasm he talked about how Generations Y and Z lack the skills they need to be successful human beings. It might seem a little harsh to paint all Gen Y/Z with the same brush, but he has important points to make.
For those who came into the workplace in the age of the smartphone, so much of their communication and relationships exist online or via text that they are not learning the skills of how to talk to people or manage their own reactions and responses as older generations have done. It creates a divide between the generations where neither side is equipped to communicate with the other.
This reduced ability to communicate in a natural way inhibits the development of deep meaningful workplace relationships and also to have difficult conversations. Instead, we see the emergence of ‘ghosting’ where an individual melts away silently or worse still, freezes out the subject of their ire. In either case, there isn’t the opportunity for the difficult conversation which should take place to find a constructive resolution, or at least provide a form of closure for both parties.
The confidence/ability to have a difficult conversation – to think and speak – is an essential skill. Especially so for those who aspire to a leadership role where managing conflict and difficult conversations are very much part of the job. As Sinek says, leaders must have the courage to go first, first towards the danger, first to take the risk, first to trust. This is only possible when someone has the confidence to communicate.
The essential skills that every generation needs
Sinek identifies four key areas:
- Effective communication
- How to give and receive feedback
- How to have difficult conversations
Listening is of course part of effective communication. The ability to listen, especially during a difficult conversation and respond appropriately is golden. It’s easy to fly off the handle, especially if we feel slighted or passionate about the subject, but this is rarely a constructive response. Being socially aware helps us to temper our responses and recognise the mood changes in others.
Resilience is also essential for effective communication. The ability to persevere with a tough talk or deliver an unwelcome message with calm authority and optimism can be a game-changer when it comes to taking a reticent team with you into the unknown. And haven’t we had a lot of that recently?
Communication is also key when it comes to fostering collaboration, often between different personality types. Understanding what motivates each team player means that you stand a good chance of getting them to ‘play together nicely’.
The ability to give and receive feedback is a powerful and potentially business-saving skill. Too often an individual is allowed to cruise through their career, oblivious to the fact that everyone around them believes them to be incompetent, or at least in the wrong job. Most of us have worked with someone who fits this bill. This is a problem that is only likely to get worse where tomorrow’s leaders are unable to have the essential difficult conversation that would help to steer that person in a different, and hopefully more fulfilling direction. Difficult conversations don’t have to end badly if they are done with empathy, self-regulation and regard for others.
It's up to employers to teach these skills
You might think teaching these skills is the job of parents and the education system. Sadly, whether that should or should not be the case is irrelevant, because its isn’t happening. It’s therefore dependent on the employer to ensure that their people have the requisite skills to perform to the best of their abilities. This requires investment in professional development. If your organisation does not have a training strategy in place to cover these skills, the future of your leadership succession planning looks pretty bleak.
Look at this positively. Where these skills are weak in your people, whether Gen Y/Z or older, you have the perfect opportunity to develop them into exactly what your business needs. You’ll create better employee engagement and loyalty, you’ll have a stronger employer brand, and you’ll have a blueprint for a successful effective workplace.
Use flowprofiler® and McQuaig to develop your people.
flowprofiler® helps organisations to develop the key skills of emotional intelligence, resilience and motivation that effectively help people to develop their communication and interpersonal skills in the workplace. With greater emotional intelligence, your people will develop better and more organic pathways of communication. By focusing on their resilience they will forge a more constructive and optimistic outlook on setbacks and challenges. With stronger motivation they will improve their collaborative skills and ultimately benefit from greater workplace wellbeing, rather than suffer preventable burnout.
Where flowprofiler® seeks to help improve essential skills, the McQuaig Self-Development Survey® enables an individual to identify their innate personality traits. These are aspects of their character which change only in the face of unusual circumstances, perhaps as we are experiencing now. An example would be that of a highly sociable person, who is now isolated from their team and suffering as a result. McQuaig helps that individual to understand why they are struggling and gives the opportunity to start a conversation to find a solution.
Get in touch to find out how flowprofiler® and McQuaig could be the game-changer your organisation needs to thrive through and beyond the current crisis.
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