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Ten People Skills That Increase Productivity

Dan Bobinski
October 28, 2004 -- By Dan Bobinski 

In most business colleges, the main focus is organizing projects, strategizing for growth, and number crunching. 
But it’s people who make business happen, and if the gears of human interaction get dry, it’s not long before smoke fills the room and the resulting damaged relationships lead to lower productivity.  The following is a list of actions that will grease those gears so work runs more smoothly in your department or company:
1.        Be patient – listen carefully before acting.   In the heat of business, we can get so focused on results that we fail to take time to gather important facts.  This doesn’t mean we need to poll everyone in the department, but making rash decisions without the facts is often more dangerous than analysis paralysis. 
2.        Be kind – rarely does belligerence win loyalty.  If employees make mistakes, it’s too easy to blast them with your emotions.  Let me cut to the point:  Your emotional distress is not your employee’s problem.  It’s yours.  When you blast anger or intimidation at someone because things aren’t going right, you may feel better temporarily, but you’ve just poured sand in the gears of your employee’s loyalty.  Contemplate the productivity of your automobile if you do that to your car’s engine.
3.        Be happy about other’s achievements.   Most people love to be celebrated.  When a project goes well, even if it’s not in your department, make a big deal of it.  People want to be part of a successful team.  Let them know you value achievement at all levels in the company, no matter who or what department gets the credit.
4.        Boast about your team – not yourself.  When a successful project is a direct result of your effort, know that it would not have been a success if it weren’t for the people around you.  Share the wealth, as it were.  Make sure you speak loud and clear that success occurred because of the team’s effort.
5.        Be polite – sarcasm only creates distance.   Rudeness is also like pouring sand on the gears.  “Please” and “Thank You” are still magical words, and a respectful voice tone goes a long way.  Professionalism is not measured by how big of a shark you are.  Note: Being polite does not mean you have to be a doormat.  You can be firm and polite.
6.        Be calm in the midst of emotional turmoil.  If dialog becomes heated, nobody is forcing you to join the ruckus.  It is totally within your power to take an emotional step back and use an objective approach.
7.        Be cooperative – not passive aggressive.  Being subtly insubordinate when you don’t see the value of a project, dragging your feet on work you don’t want to do, or “conveniently” forgetting obligations are all immature actions.  If you have a genuine disagreement, make your point up front with professionalism.  If you are overruled, be an adult about it.  Cooperate and work toward the company goals.
8.        Be optimistic – people expect you to find solutions.  Good managers and leaders don’t say, “it’ll never work” or “we’re doomed – we’ve been tasked with the impossible.”   They look for ways to make impossible possible, and they instill that energy into their teams.  They keep their chins up and look for viable options.
9.        Be proactive – initiative earns respect.  Waiting for “someone else” to pick up the ball or making excuses for one’s own inaction are never good leadership traits.  Look for what can be done to make headway and do it.  People are energized by leaders taking action in a principled way.
10.        Be far-sighted – know & communicate the ripple-effect.  Many who could be great leaders and managers never become such because they never lift their eyes beyond their next paycheck.  Look up and see the benefits of accomplishing what your company has set out do to.  Consider how those benefits impact the world in a positive way, and then become an evangelist for communicating those benefits to your co-workers.  When people can see that what they’re doing contributes positively to their world, it increases their passion and commitment.

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© 2004 Dan Bobinski / Leadership Development, Inc. You may freely forward this information on condition that you send the text as an integral whole along with complete information about its author, date, and source.
Dan Bobinski is President and CEO of Leadership Development, Inc. He can be reached at (208) 375-7606 or by Email at dan@leadershipanswers.com
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