Technique 1.75 How Good are Your People Skills?
(use soft skills to hand your technical skills)

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Introduction

In almost all jobs, your soft skills (sometimes called human or behavioural or people skills) are just as important as your technical skills especially as you climb the organisational ladder and move into more management/leadership roles.  They will have as much impact on your success as your technical skills. The importance of having good people skills transcends industry and profession. They are important whether you lead people, aspire to lead people, work within a team, etc.. You need these people skills to achieve your objectives (private, professional, organisational, etc)

Questionnaire

This short questionnaire will assess how good your current people skills are. Once you have completed the questionnaire, it will identify specific tools and resources that can be used to develop and improve this important area.

Take the test below and add up your total of the test to assess your people skills

Instructions:

For each statement, choice the option that best describes you.  Please answer questions as you actually are (rather than how you think you should be); don't worry if some questions seem to score strangely

When you are finished, please add your score at the bottom of the test

No. Statement Answer
   
not at all rarely sometimes often very often
1. I make sure that I display the same standards of behaviour that I expect from other people  
2. When providing feedback, I wait until I have observed enough incidents of behaviour to make a generalised statement that is accurate  
3. I go along with others decisions rather than inject my ideas into the mix  
4. I say "thank you" to people I work with  
5. During times of conflict I think about how to serve the relationship and still get my needs met  
6. While actively talking with someone, I have composed my answer before they have finished speaking  
7. I look out for myself at work and do what is necessary to get ahead  
8. I think about how others perceive a problem or issue  
9. I speak first, and think later  
10 I collaborate with others to solve problems using a variety of problem-solving tools and techniques  
11. I cause more harm than good when trying to resolve a conflict  
12. When somebody gives me feedback, I ask him or her to provide examples so that I can better understand the issue  
13. I pay attention to other people's body language  
14. When team agreement is necessary, I figure out the best solution to a problem and then explain why it's the right decision  
15. I study my audience's needs, decide what I want to say and then figure out the best way to say it  
. I make sure everybody knows about my contribution to a positive outcome  
  Total number of ticks
 
  Score
           1                2                      3                 4                 5
  Total (number of ticks X score)
 


Score interpretation

Score
Comments
16 -36 Your technical skills may have taken precedence over your people skills in your career to date.  You are making the most of relationships you have at work, and this may be limiting your career growth.  It's time to assess how you can work better with others in the workplace and develop a more collaborative, understanding, and open approach to getting your needs met - while still achieving team and organisational objectives (see below to start)
37-56 You recognise that working well with others in the workplace is important and you are trying to work collaboratively while still making sure your needs are met.  There is room for improvement, however, as old habits may creep in during times of stress and pressure.  Make a plan to work actively on your people skills so that they form the natural basis for how you approach workplace relationships (see below to start)
59-80 Your people skills are good.  You understand the give-and-take involved in complex issues involving people.  You might not always approach situations perfectly, however you have a sufficiently good understanding to know when and where you need to take steps to rectify things.  Keep working on your people skills and set an example for the rest of your team.  And take some time to work on the specific areas below where you lost points (see below to start)

 
This means that they need to communicate well with others, and this makes communication skills some of the most important skills in the workplace. You should try to listen actively to what the speaker is saying. When you engage active listening you respond in a way that makes it clear that you understand the feelings and intent of the speaker. 

NB The above questionnaire assesses your soft skills according to the 4 main themes below

Review your scores from each theme and read more where you need to improve

Interpersonal communication skills (statements 6, 9, 13 & 15)

Many people spend more time working with other people than they do with processes or products. This means that they need to communicate well with others, and this makes communication skills some of the most important skills in the workplace. Some key communication blocks are

- message barriers (this occurs when people fail to communicate clearly.  If you find that you are often confusing people, then the place to start fixing the issue is to figure out what you want to say, ie do you want to persuade?  Are you trying to motivate?  Are you simply informing?  Or are you attempting to build a relationship?  The purpose of your communication will influence what you say and how you say it.)

- receiving barriers (this occurs at the receiving end of the communication, and results from ineffective listening, ie we hear and understand faster than we speak, and this can lead to boredom and a wandering mind when on the listening end of communications. To combat this, you should try to listen actively to what the speaker is saying.  When you engage active listening, you respond in a way that makes it clear that you understand the feeling and the intent of the speaker)

- decoding barriers (this occurs when the real message is not fully grasped or translated because of misperceptions, misinterpretations or missing information.  The most common problem here is with mismatched non-verbal communication.  A lot of non-verbal communication is unconscious - meaning that the sender isn't aware of the messages he or she is producing.  Yet these messages can reveal a great deal of someone's true thoughts.  If you can learn to understand people's non-verbal communications, you can improve your people skills significantly.

Managing differences (statements 3, 5, 8 & 11)

People can seem to disagree about almost anything, ie what caused the problem, how to solve it, what values are right or wrong, what goal should be pursued, etc. There can also be personal, non-job-related differences between people that lead to obvious differences in outlook and approach. Owing to this, respecting and managing differences between people can be one of the most important skills you can develop.  It is a huge advantage if you can learn to celebrate and enjoy differences, and make them work to your advantage.

It is important to recognise that in many cases, conflict can be of benefit as it often causes significant, positive change; it spawns creativity and knowledge approaches to problem solving and can improve organisational performance if managed properly. When resolving conflict, you need to understand other people's needs and points of view.  This often elicits solutions that may otherwise not have been obvious. When you take time to understand another person's point of view, you are demonstrating your willingness to work together to find a solution.  Also you need to be appropriately assertive if you're going to manage differences effectively.  This is different from aggression which is usually counter-productive if trying to resolve a conflict.  However, you need to recognise your own needs in a situation and not run the risk of agreeing to a solution that works against your own interest.

NB Remember that differences are not necessarily negative, so suppressing your thoughts and ideas in order come to an easy agreement is not necessarily effective or efficient; in fact, it can be counter-productive

Managing agreement (statements 2,10,12 & 14)

Similarly to managing differences, managing agreement needs high level people skills to get people to come to agreement with one another.  Synergy is important when looking for team work.  This is when the team's output is better or greater than the sum of each individual's input.  To achieve synergy, you need to get people working together collaboratively. Team decision-making processes can be complicated but offer the opportunity of collecting all the insights that team members can give and less chance of excluding something valuable. This involves strong people skills, including approaching team meetings with a genuinely positive attitude.

Linked with this as feedback. When feedback is given poorly, people reject as it is viewed as destructive criticism that can damage relationships.  On the other hand, if delivered well feedback can help improve understandings of one another's needs and perspectives that will lead to improved performance and productivity.

In developing strong people skills, you need to be willing to accept what others are saying and learn from this.  This will help you develop personally and improve your relationship with others

Personal integrity (statements 1, 4, 7 & 16)

Integrity is the cornerstone of people skills as it is about basic honesty and truthfulness when dealing with others.  Also, it means working with people openly and in such a way that people's interests are not compromised for the sake of the team or the organisation.  Basic courtesies like "please" and "thank you", and giving credit where it is due are all part of the process, ie people-orientated behaviours that can make a difference to other people.  Acknowledging others' contributions, efforts, etc help create a positive, harmonious and productive team climate

Key points

With well-developed people skills, you can communicate effectively on an interpersonal level; manage conflict positively; work productively with others to find solutions and reach agreements; work with integrity and ethics to motivate and inspire others.  All these skills can be learned and developed and are not limited to the workplace as they are applicable to your personal life outside

(source: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/articles/newTMM_36.htm)

 

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