02 Mar

Are people skills still relevant?

“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood.” Ralph Nichols

We’ve all seen articles about technology. How fast advances are happening, how new innovations will help us in our daily lives. We hear the stories of amazing robotic achievements, advances in technology making life easier and even sometimes saving lives!

So with the focus on things like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), Machine Learning (ML) amongst other new acronyms on the radar…are people skills still relevant?

The importance of people skills

Most experts agree…people skills are essential workplace skills – now and especially in the future. Because technology can not successfully and totally replace people.

Empathy, collaboration, communication, innovation, problem solving, leadership…people skills.

So now more than ever it’s important to develop our people skills. Especially in organisations where team performance is critical for success. The skills of a team to communicate effectively, make joint decisions and act quickly are still important to ensuring results. The ability of workers – no matter what their role – to listen, demonstrate empathy, and ask great questions is still fundamental in delivering great customer service, as well as effective team collaboration.

A powerful people skill we all need in teams!

A skill that is essential in teams, is the ability to navigate tough discussions for a positive outcome. Yet so many managers I talk to dread or dislike these situations. Many actively avoid having the discussions that are most needed.

Tough discussions, difficult conversations – they are hard. Because emotions and important topics are involved. The stakes are high, and the emotions are high for each person involved.

To fine tune our people skills, we need to start talking about threat states and psychological safety. I believe that these aspects will become increasingly important for teams, as the pace of technological advances, global challenges, and population growth continues to impact.

Difficult conversations will always be in the workplace. Change and complexity will only make them more important, and potentially more frequent.

Frontline managers in particular need to be equipped to understand the complexities of human interactions, and how they can impact their team’s culture and performance through their people skills. The ability to have productive conversations around difficult topics is an essential people skill.

The old way of managing – the authoritarian approach, some would call it – is not successful as it once might have been. And it won’t make tough discussions easier, that’s for sure!

People skills. Always relevant, and perhaps now, more so than ever.

What do you think?

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