15 Minutes of reading
Improving interpersonal skills at work: an asset for the company
Developing our interpersonal skills is essential in the current (and future) work environment. Creativity, leadership, adaptability and autonomy are qualities increasingly sought-after by employers. Interpersonal skills determine well-being at work, career development and the success of the company as a whole. Rise Up zooms in on interpersonal skills and gives you solutions on how to improve them.
The importance of interpersonal skills at work
Interpersonal skills: definition
Interpersonal skills at work can be found under different terms: behavioural skills, social skills or people skills. What are they exactly? This type of skills refers to the personal qualities that will play a positive role in the company. They describe someone's nature and how they communicate and interact with others.
These human and interpersonal skills are classified as soft skills.
Companies are paying increasing attention to the interpersonal skills of their employees and job applicants. Why? They provide them with the guarantee that they will integrate well within a team and, more broadly, within the corporate culture.
Having a range of interpersonal skills is therefore crucial for candidates.
What are the most sought-after interpersonal skills?
Adaptability ranks high among the interpersonal skills most sought after by recruiters. The health crisis has revealed the importance of the ability to adapt. The accelerated digitalisation of companies, an increased work flexibility, and the rapid evolution of jobs: a context that makes employee adaptability indispensable.
Being creative is useful in all types of organisations and sectors. Creativity goes hand in hand with curiosity, the ability to bring forward a new perspective, to approach a project or a problem from a previously unexplored angle. A creative employee will be able to find new solutions to difficulties.
Autonomous employees save the manager time. Efficient and competent, they only need a few guidelines to carry out their tasks perfectly. An autonomous employee is reliable, a quality that the hierarchy finds reassuring.
This quality is coupled with a sense of communication, i.e., the ability to dialogue and listen. Knowing how to adapt your speech depending on who you are talking to and engage with him/her in a constructive and respectful exchange: this is an asset within a team.
A well-organised employee who manages to optimise their time and streamline their practices will inevitably gain in speed of execution and therefore in productivity.
The ability to convince an audience, whether it is a colleague, a team or a client, is a strength that appeals to recruiters. The ability to demonstrate the relevance of your idea or project, and then win over your audience, is a driving force for a company. A persuasive employee, eager to launch and move projects forward, helps the organisation succeed.
The ability to collaborate with colleagues is essential for a team to perform well and remain together for the duration. Efficient collaboration prevents obstacles, allows projects to progress more quickly and fosters the development of the whole group.
Organisational skills are a prerequisite for efficient work and prioritisation of tasks. An organised employee will be able to optimise their time and therefore meet deadlines and be more productive. Organisational skills are an interpersonal skill that is highly valued by managers.
Being open-minded means being able to receive the ideas and thoughts of others, and also to accept their strengths and weaknesses. An open-minded employee will be more flexible and adaptable within a team.
Individuals with high emotional intelligence is not only able to analyse and control their own emotions, but also to perceive (and deal with) those of others. Therefore, they can adapt to the other person in all circumstances.
Leadership is an indispensable quality for a manager, and it relates to the ability to direct and unite a group of employees. A good leader has skill set such as listening skills, assertiveness, open-mindedness and the ability to assume responsibility.
A sense of initiative
Showing initiative, putting forward ideas, proposing relevant solutions: an attitude that allows the team to move forward, to engage in new projects and to face the obstacles that may arise.
Enthusiasm, a positive and optimistic spirit and the desire to move forward all instil dynamism and motivation in a team. An employee with these qualities will greatly contribute to improving the atmosphere and the efficiency of the group.
A problem within a team, whether it is interpersonal or focused on a task to be accomplished, is detrimental to group cohesion and efficiency. It can also hinder a project's progress. In short, the ability to solve problems is a valuable asset for the manager.
It is obvious: in interviews, recruiters should focus on behavioural and social skills
In interviews, the assessment of interpersonal skills is essential. This will enable the employer to anticipate how the candidate will fit into the new team and, more broadly, into the working environment. Identifying interpersonal skills also provides answers to key questions: what will this person bring to the team and beyond to the company? How are they likely to position themselves within a group? How will they interact with their colleagues, partners and (possibly) customers?
The quality of interpersonal relationships as a basis for better organisation
The four relational dimensions
Two Doctors of Philosophy from Harvard Business School, Timothy Butler and James Waldroop, have defined several types of interpersonal relations. They group them into four dimensions. Depending on their personality, everyone has one or more of these. The trick is to know how to detect them, coordinate them and put these different skills to music in order to optimise team performance. This is an objective that managers must set themselves.
The challenge is not so simple... Interpersonal relationships in a company involve power games, due to the clash of different profiles. However, management that focuses on managing interpersonal skills will create healthy competition and lead everyone, in the right position, to express their full potential.
What are these four dimensions?
An employee who is able to capture the interest and influence the audience is a great asset to a team. Persuasive, convincing and always looking to interact with others, he/she knows how to surround himself with a quality network. Their negotiating skills are also recognised. This type of person instils a positive dynamic and is a natural spokesperson for a group.
Interpersonal facilitation is empathy. This means being able to identify the emotional state, motivations, and frustrations of others. Employees with this quality therefore understand what is going on behind the scenes by detecting the unspoken. They are able to position themselves as observers and even referees. These employees are effective in conflict resolution and are better at listening to and helping their colleagues.
Individuals with strong relational creativity are able to arouse and convey emotions through powerful words and visuals. They have a creative background, often with artistic or writing skills. Able to influence and inspire their target audience, these employees are able to build strong relationships both face to face and remotely.
Individuals who excel in this dimension demonstrate a natural authority. They like to bring talent together, to motivate a team to succeed in a challenge, in other words, to lead a team towards success, towards a common goal. Leadership implies the ability to instil a spirit of collaboration.
A quality interpersonal relationship, an indisputable guarantee of a prosperous work environment and a sense of achievement for the employee
Managers who are able to draw on the interpersonal skills of each of their employees will be able to create a strong team cohesion. Coordinating the different profiles guarantees a healthy environment and a calm working atmosphere.
This creates a virtuous circle, as the positive atmosphere improves the behaviour of the group members. The result is that teamwork becomes even more efficient and employees feel more fulfilled.
Achieving this harmony should be the ultimate goal for any company. But how do we get there? Here are a few tips:
- Encourage teamwork
- Offer employees the means to fulfil themselves and to grow within the company by offering them training and by managing fairly and equitably.
- Gently lead employees to adjust their behaviour to work better together.
Developing and improving interpersonal skills: first steps towards a successful career
Highlighting interpersonal skills on a CV: a must for every candidate
Given the importance of interpersonal skills in a company, candidates must highlight them, regardless of the position and the organisation.
The first step is to identify your social and interpersonal skills. These skills come from different professional and personal experiences, so it is a good idea to look back on past actions, to reflect on what you have done and how you achieved a goal. "In these situations, what interpersonal skills did I demonstrate?" That is the question to ask yourself.
Then, introduce them carefully into your CV. They must captivate the recruiter's attention. To do this, there are two solutions: link them to each of the professional experiences described, or enter them directly in the header, next to the contact details. It is advisable to avoid long, unconvincing lists and instead focus on specific interpersonal skills, which will result in a unique and attractive profile for the recruiter.
Of course, every candidate must also recognise their shortcomings and work to overcome them. How do we improve our interpersonal skills in a professional context? This is what we'll examine now.
Techniques to strengthen interpersonal intelligence and facilitate professional development
As we have seen, interpersonal intelligence facilitates career development and, on a more global level, contributes to the success of teams and therefore of the company as a whole.
In order to develop collective and relational intelligence, we must act on a daily basis, according to our responsibilities and hierarchical status. These are the main techniques to adopt:
Develop your leadership
Adopting a leadership position is essential in order to progress within an organisation. Cultivating leadership involves the following actions:
- Sharing a common vision and goal
- Instilling enthusiasm and dynamism in a team
- Putting our egos to one side, be focused on others by providing support, constructive feedback and advice. Why it is important: to help colleagues develop and to position oneself as an expert who cares.
- Delegating certain tasks and to give responsibility to one's colleagues, in order to maintain their motivation and make them feel empowered.
Recognise the qualities and the expertise of our colleagues
Knowing how to value the people you work with promotes good understanding and mutual trust. It is also a sign of respect for the work done by colleagues and an assurance to them that their successes will not be passed off as their own.
Demonstrate sincere sympathy
Being attentive to others should not just be an attitude. An employee with real interpersonal skills is genuinely interested in the other person, their personality and their story. Active listening (asking questions, rephrasing) and body language work (maintaining eye contact, nodding, etc.) are excellent ways to get involved in a discussion and gain the respect and trust of the other person.
Manage conflicts effectively
There are two ways to manage a conflict effectively and regain a healthy relationship with colleagues:
- Take a step back and control your emotions
- Confront and resolve difficulties as they arise, rather than allowing them to grow and frustration to mount.
Develop their emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is first and foremost a matter of self-awareness: Being aware of your own emotions and controlling them will make it easier to accept those of the other person. Knowing how to put yourself in the other person's shoes and understanding how they perceive things by analysing their verbal and body language are important in taking fair and appropriate decisions.
The first step is to build confidence in yourself, your opinions and your values. This makes it easier to express your ideas, set boundaries and establish your position in the organisation.
Become an outstanding negotiator
Developing and nurturing negotiating skills is a way of establishing authority and achieving undeniable success. Negotiation is a work in progress. How? By listening to what is being said around you, being persistent while being flexible and open to compromise, and thinking "results" above all.
Strengthening interpersonal and relational skills is of course possible at any time in our careers. This is why Rise Up has developed a specific offering, Rise Up Content, with numerous modules designed to improve personal intelligence.