“I’m not a people person.” I will never forget hearing those words during a leadership workshop I was facilitating, nor will I forget the newly appointed manager who uttered them. The shocking truth is that according to the extensive Gallup study of 2.5 million manager-led teams in 195 countries, organizations fail to select the right person for the role of manager over 80% of the time.
Imagine the consequences for your employees, customers, and overall business success when a leader lacks critical acumen regarding the value of human-to-human connection.
Sadly, this scenario is all too common. It is time for organizations of every description to realize the hard truth about so-called “soft skills”. No matter how high tech our world has become, leaders, teams and front line staff must possess outstanding interpersonal skills in order to maintain and to build business relationships; both internally and externally.
Here are three reasons:
1. Organizations will always be about people
Early in my career, I remember watching one of the world’s leading sales authorities, Zig Ziglar, address 10,000 people. One of his many famous sayings stuck with me: “If people like you they will listen to you, but if they trust you they will do business with you.” This principle is at the core of every successful human interaction, whether you are leading a team, working in sales, pitching an idea, negotiating a deal, or helping a customer – virtually every career category involves relationship-building as the foundational piece.
Every business is looking for the strategic advantages…the savvier ones recognize the fact that loyal employees and happy customers are your greatest assets. People who stay because they like, trust and recommend you to others provide your business with a unique value proposition in a highly competitive marketplace.
2. “High touch” can never replace “high tech”
Despite your organization’s best efforts to simplify your customer’s interactions via automated processes, preserving and nurturing customer relationships is essential. Investing in the development of high touch relational skills such as listening and empathizing will positively impact customer retention and your bottom line.
There is no question that technology continues to enhance our experience as consumers of a company’s product or services. However, when we do not receive good customer service, and/or problems are not resolved to our satisfaction, we are more likely to question our overall experience and to defect to a competitor. For example, Bain and Company describes the cumulative effects of dissatisfaction in the telecommunications sector as “customer churn”. Their research confirms the value of creating “moments that matter” early in the relationship and “delighting, rather than bribing the customer to stay…when defection is imminent.”
3. Reputation makes or breaks a business
How do organizations develop a reputation as a desirable place to work or to do business? It begins with the character of its leaders who in turn establish the culture, values and ethical standards of the workplace. The largest and newest cohort of employees “judges the performance of a business on what it does and how it treats people.” They are attracted to an enterprise that is reputable, respected and highly regarded by its workforce and clients, evaluating the manner in which leaders conduct themselves amongst their staff and community as a whole.
Technology and instant access to news via social media have consequences for businesses everywhere. The behaviour of leaders has become everyone’s business. In fact, no one is immune from public scrutiny. Our actions within business or personal spheres can be exposed instantly; our respective reputations can be elevated or destroyed overnight based on how we conduct ourselves with others.
The power of relationships is alive and well – one constant that will never change.