Surveys of executives from around the world show that relationship skills are in great demand, and so is the need to improve those skills and put them to use in a changing corporate culture. While they were once considered “soft” skills that some executives simply possessed naturally, relationship skills are something that can, indeed, be learned.
Sure, some people will have an intrinsic ability to build, develop and maintain relationships. However, a successful executive, no matter how smart, can no longer hope knowledge and experience will offset lukewarm relationship and people skills.
The first step to building more effective relationships starts with being practical and assessing your own abilities. Start paying attention to how you interact with co-workers. Gauge your reactions to them, and take note of how they physically and verbally respond to you. You can’t do that if you’re sequestered in your office, so be present. Shake hands. Walk around. If you’ve got people dispersed to other sites, make a visit; don’t just rely on the phone and e-mail to build that relationship. Don’t wait for them to come to you.
That first assessment will help you grasp your standing with your employees or co-workers. Once you’ve become more aware, start taking consistent steps to eliminating weak points and strengthening skills you already have.