Change Implementation Techniques for Laying a Foundation for New Ways

Technique 1.49 Relational or Interpersonal Abilities/Skills

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(matching interests and skills)

Introduction

. It is claimed that there are 2 fundamental factors that underlie effective businesses ‐ analytical aspects and relational aspects. The analytical factors include the thinking, analysis and planning that drives functional businesses such as business strategy, accounting, finance, production and operations, information systems, etc. The relational factors are the relationship‐oriented roles in areas such as sales, marketing, direct consumer service, communications, deal‐making and the methods of keeping staff motivated and dedicated to working towards a common goal

. It is harder to evaluate relational or interpersonal abilities than analytical/technical skills. Yet the relational or interpersonal abilities can be just as important; in some cases, such as in senior management positions, these are more important than technical skills. Furthermore,

"...Many senior managers, focused on more measurable and immediate outcomes, aren't sufficiently attentive to relational work ‐ especially the behind‐the‐scenes activity that strengthens team bonds and keeps workers motivated and productive......managers, therefore, can boost productivity by using their employees' relational interests and skills to guide personnel choices, project assignments and career development..."

Timothy Butler et al, 2004

. There are 4 distinct dimensions of relational work or interpersonal abilities

influence

interpersonal facilitation

relational creativity

team leadership

. Understanding these 4 areas of relational abilities can help match employees' interests and skills (including interpersonal) to their responsibilities so that everybody benefits

. Unfortunately, much of the interpersonal work, especially the dimension of interpersonal facilitation, goes completely unnoticed. As a result, this work is not recognized or rewarded. One of the reasons for this is that the dimensions are identified with feminine characteristics and as a result are undervalued. Yet

"...productivity is fueled by passion; people work hardest when their daily activities provide an outlet for the deepest interests. And many......people can make significant contributions to the organisation in this relational realm..."

Timothy Butler et al, 2004

i) Influence ‐ people with this quality

. Enjoy developing, exercising and extending their sphere of interpersonal influence

. Are good at persuasion and negotiation

. Take pleasure in the power of holding valuable information and ideas.

. This dimension of relational work is about changing the point of view or behaviours of others

. People in this dimension are good at selling

. Signs of this dimension include a history of being elected to leadership positions and a wide professional network

ii) Interpersonal facilitation

. This dimension involves being a "people person" who is keenly attuned to the interpersonal aspects of the work situation, ie naturally focus on others' experiences and able to attend to and understand the interpersonal demands of business tasks

. Signs of this dimension include being insightful in understanding what is behind a conflict and/or disagreement plus having a broad personal and professional network, especially in the current place of employment, and usually being supporters of good causes

. This dimension is most closely identified with feminine characteristics and can be prone to being under‐valued

iii) Relational creativity

. This dimension involves forging connections with groups of people through visual and verbal imagery.

. It is most commonly used in business for persuading customers to buy and investors to invest; however, it is different from the influence dimension. Staff skilled in influence convince others on a person‐to‐person basis, whereas people talented at relational creativity use images and words to arouse emotions and create relationships with groups. Types of positions that use this dimension includes marketing brand managers, speechwriters, public relations professional, etc

. Furthermore, it is not a measure of creativity in general ‐ only in the interpersonal area

. Usually when asked a question, persons with high levels of relational creativity can give a creative or off‐beat answer

iv) Teamwork

. This dimension involves interests associated with team leadership and direct customer contact. High scorers in this dimension perform best and happiest, and are most motivated in environments with a high level of frequent interpersonal interaction

. They like managing high energy teams in busy service environments and enjoy working both with a team and with the customer. The difference between individuals who score highly in team leadership and those who do so in the influence dimension is their interest in managing people. High scorers in team leadership always want to work through a group and are more interested in the interpersonal and managerial processes.

. Signs of this dimension include a long history of involvement in groups, including social, and high levels of energy and enthusiasm when discussing a topic of interest

NB The 4 relational dimensions are not discrete types as they can overlap

v) Balance

. In most groups there needs to be a balance of the 4 dimensions. If a group is lop‐sided, then the group will favour "self‐like" people and thus under‐appreciate interpersonal differences. To improve the balance, managers needs to bring in people who are strongly differing dimensions. Furthermore, any reward and recognition system will strongly favour the dimension that is strongest in the group.

Questions to help understand and develop relationship skills

(answer either Yes or No or Maybe)

A

i) Are you able to sell an idea/product/service easily to a customer and/or colleague?

ii) Are you able to regularly get more resources for your project/activity than anybody else?

iii) Are you able to get your staff fired up for the next challenge, regardless of how tired they are from the last one?

iv) Do you have a history of being elected to leadership positions, such as those in relevant professional and social organisations?

v) Do you regard yourself as a good networker?

vi) Is your network predominantly around your employment?

vii) Do you regard yourself as a good alliance builder?

viii) Do you regard yourself as a good negotiator?

ix) Do you present your own opinions confidently and persuasively?

x) Is it a highlight for you at work if you can influence a decision?

B

i) Do you prefer to work behind the scenes rather than upfront?

ii) Do you intuitively focus on other people's experiences?

iii) Do you care about the individual performance and career development of your staff?

iv) Do you prefer to be involved in activities, such as counseling, conflict resolution, coaching and informal personality assessment, etc rather than technical aspects of the job?

v) Do you regard yourself as a good networker?

vi) Is your network predominantly inside your place of employment?

vii) Do you support "good causes" outside the workplace?

viii) Are you good at making people feel at ease when discussing troublesome topics?

ix) Are people more willing to confide in you than in their own managers?

x) When you select a team, do you take into account the interpersonal skills of the individuals?

xi) Are you uncomfortable terminating staff?

C

i) Do you use visual and verbal imagery to get your message across?

ii) Do you prefer to use images and words to arouse emotions and create relationships with people?

iii) Do you prefer assignments that involve creativity?

D

i) Do you prefer to work in a group rather than as an individual?

ii) Do you need to see and react with other people to feel satisfied?

iii) Did you prefer to minimise your time in front of a computer screen?

iv) Do you enjoy managing high‐energy individuals and teams?

v) Do you prefer to work with people or through people?

vi) Are you more interested in output than the process?

Answers

If more of your answers are YES, the stronger your capabilities under that dimension are, ie

. Under A, you are strong in the dimension of influence

. Under B, you are strong in the dimension of interpersonal facilitation

. Under C, you are strong in the dimension of relational creativity

. Under D, you are strong in the dimension of team leadership

NB Conversely, a higher number of "no" answers suggests a weakness in that dimension, while predominately "maybe" signals suggest that you have average skills in that dimension

Comments on answers

"...you don't have to be interested in, or skilled at, all four dimensions of interpersonal work. Most people aren't. You do, however, need to know where you stand on each, so you can either build up the areas where you're weak or make sure you have people close to you in the organisation who can help when you need it..."

Timothy Bulter et al, 2004

More advanced questions

To help you understand your interpersonal skills profile more fully, answer the following questions about your current and future potential roles

. Current role

i) Which profile(s) would have led to optimum performance in recent assignments?

ii) How closely does that profile(s) match your own?

iii) Did a lack of interest or ability in any of the 4 dimensions interfere with your success?

iv) Where are you unable to compensate in some way? How?

v) What discrepancies are there between your current role and your profile?

vi) Are there areas in your current role where your interpersonal skills are underutilized?

vii) Are there areas in your current role where you lack the required interpersonal skills?

. Future potential roles

i) What relational skills will be required to handle them?

ii) In which relational skills do you naturally excel?

iii) In which relational skill areas will you probably run into trouble?

iv) How can you handle your future possible positions so that they are more closely aligned with your strengths in relational skills?

Some suggestions to improve your 4 relational skills

Remember: building the skills may feel uncomfortable as your preference will be to follow the dimension that most interests you and in which you perform best

. Influence

‐ read about recent successful political manoeuvers in all sectors (private, corporate, public and not‐for‐profit), paying attention to what works with which types of people

‐ make a "power and influence" chart ‐ list people in your work setting and draw lines between them to illustrate these relationships. Use arrows for directions of influence, dotted lines for weak relationships, wavy lines for conflicts, etc

‐ identify people who are strong in this dimension and study the way they operate. Remember: what works for them does not necessarily work for you, but it will help stimulate your thinking

‐ practise influence skills in low‐risk situations, eg use a social setting to experiment with new ways of interacting before changing your behaviour in your office

‐ read books such as Dale Carnegie's "How To Win Friends And Influence People"

. Interpersonal facilitation

‐ don't assume that other people think and act the same way you do. Work to understand how people's emotions work and what motivates them

‐ make a note of what your colleagues care about, their values, what kinds of people they seem to be drawn to, and which ones they seem uncomfortable with. See what inferences you can draw from these details

‐ keep track of people over the time, noting trends in how engaged they seem to be, how positive and optimistic they appear, how excited they are, etc

‐ practise and build your interpersonal facilitation skills in low risk areas such as social settings

‐ talk with colleagues about topics that are not work‐related such as family activities, hobbies, personal conversations, etc. As a sign of caring, be prepared to comment on someone's state of being, eg "you appear not to be to your usual self"

‐ read books such as Daniel Goleman's "Emotional Intelligence"

. Relational creativity

‐ look at effective ads, consider the markets and try to get inside the minds of the creators. Then think about what you might do differently

‐ practise different creative, brainstorming techniques

‐ pay attention to the ways others market goods and services. Notice which tactics are successful and which ones are not. For the tactics that don't work well on you, consider why they might be effective on others

‐ study people who have effected major changes through their relational creativity skills, such as business leaders, political figures, religious leaders, etc

. Team leadership

‐ identify in your organisation those who are the best team leaders. Even though their style may not be suitable for you, by observing you can pick an array of strategies/tactics/ techniques/tools from which to choose. Furthermore, ask these people for advice

‐ when forming a team, select a diverse group so that your job becomes that of a traffic controller of good ideas

‐ be keen to select people who have different and/or more expertise than you

‐ attend appropriate courses on team leadership

‐ read books on teams such as Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith's "The Wisdom Of Teams"

Some examples of matching functions with interest

. Remember: there is no perfect personality profile for a specific business function. On the other hand, certain jobs attract people with particular interpersonal strengths, such as influence, interpersonal facilitation, relational creativity and team leadership

. Sales and sales management (high in team leadership and influence dimensions)

Individuals who excel in this field typically have a strong interest in team leadership. High scorers in these dimensions are extremely sociable, enjoy working with customers, and prefer environments that require a great deal of interpersonal activity. Furthermore, they are high scorers in the influence dimensions. As the influence score increases, so does interest in direct sales; higher interest in team leadership should suggest that a sales management career is most likely.

. Human resources (high in interpersonal facilitation dimension)

HR practitioners typically score very high in interpersonal facilitation; higher than they do on influence. On the other hand, the higher the position in the organisation, the higher the influence dimension is

. Management of direct service delivery (high in team leadership dimension)

These managers like direct customer contact in consumer‐oriented service businesses, and have a notably high team leadership score. They enjoy the rapid pace, the variety and the social element of directing a team charged with meeting the daily demands of customers

. Marketing (high in relational creativity, team leadership and influence dimensions)

Marketing requires both analysis and imagination, plus focusing on human behaviours. In general, marketers score high in relationship creativity, team leadership and influence dimensions when compared with other business professionals. Good marketers are deeply interested in the thoughts and feelings of the customers. They tend to be empathetic. Marketing tends to be a team‐oriented function

. Science and technology management (low scores in interpersonal dimensions)

On average, this group has poor interpersonal skills when compared with other business professionals

. Negotiations and financial deal‐making (high score in influence dimension)

These professionals can work in financial services, such as merger and acquisitions, corporate finance, trading, business development, corporate development and venture capital. They score high on influence. This separates them from their financial services colleagues, such as those in accounting, financial analysis, equity analysis and portfolio management, etc who have more limited relational‐oriented roles

. Communications and public relations (high score in relational creativity)

Compared with marketing, these professionals scored higher on relational creativity but lower on team leadership. This is explained by their heightened focus on individuals compared with marketing which is more about working with a team

(source: Timothy Bulter et al, 2004)

 

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