People skills: investing in employees’ growth

Singapore prides itself on its ‘people’ as its most valuable resource.

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” — Dale Carnegie

I quote Carnegie for he mastered the science of understanding people for productivity. In today’s fast-paced corporate world where technology and innovation often dominate discussions, a noteworthy shift is quietly reshaping the landscape. This transformation is not solely defined by algorithms or data analytics; it hinges on the often-underestimated power of soft skills. In a realm where financial reports hold great sway, it’s crucial to recognise the significance of qualities like emotional intelligence, effective communication and adaptability. We are entering an era where interpersonal skills have risen beyond mere preferences; they’ve become indispensable tools for attaining success in the modern corporate environment.

Singapore prides itself on its ‘people’ as its most valuable resource. Their entire development plan hinges on prioritising people’s well-being for maximising productivity. We have all seen how the country has grown from a fishing village into a global example of excellence in all areas.

My point is not only to highlight the importance of ‘people’ focus for any business but to propagate it too. It is no longer a humane or CSR approach — it is vital to the success of the business. The social skills that create this harmonious enabling environment are accordingly called people skills now, and they encompass the interpersonal and communication proficiencies that facilitate effective collaboration and cohesion within teams. These include capabilities like teamwork, leadership, creative problem-solving, emotional intelligence and adaptability.

As someone associated with an international organisation working across the world, I cannot stress enough the importance of building bonds between people. A person sitting in Islamabad would be interacting with a resource in Buenos Aires, and both need to be on the same page to build a relationship that would be beneficial for the organisation. Trust and rapport are the foundation of any relationship, whether it is with a customer who needs a solution, a colleague who needs support or a manager who needs feedback. By demonstrating abilities such as active listening, empathy, respect and professionalism, one must establish a positive and lasting impression on others and foster a culture of collaboration and mutual respect.

A few decades ago, communication skills were dubbed essential for only those who had to interact with others, for instance in the sales or marketing departments. The concept evolved to include non-verbal and written communication to become part of it. In fact, non-verbal is almost 70% of communication. This has added a lot of responsibility to the leadership of the new age. To address the multifaceted challenges at workplaces today, it is imperative for leaders to not only excel in written and verbal communication but they must also possess the capacity to actively listen, show empathy and adapt effectively.

The corporate world is constantly evolving and presenting new opportunities and threats. To thrive in such an environment, one needs to be flexible, resilient, innovative and proactive. We know that the ‘what’ part of the job requires hard skills but then there is the ‘how’ part. People skills can aid one in presenting their views persuasively and negotiating confidently. While organisations realised the importance of a happy rising employee, and willingly invested in programmes that enabled professional development for better learning and growth, they also ensured a whole package of communication skills development to guarantee the success of each initiative.

Technical skills and qualifications are undoubtedly important, but strong interpersonal skills bind successful careers with enhanced productivity and longevity. Investing time and effort in developing soft skills can lead to personal and professional growth, improved job satisfaction and increased opportunities for career advancement. As the professional landscape continues to evolve, the importance of people skills will only become more pronounced.

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