How to Power Up People Skills

Desda Moss By Desda Moss August 9, 2017
How to Power Up People Skills

There is a shocking "execution gap" between the goals organizations set and the ones they actually achieve, writes Trevor Throness, author of The Power of People Skills: How to Eliminate 90% of Your HR Problems and Dramatically Increase Team and Company Morale and Performance (Career Press, 2017).

To prove his point, Throness cites the results of a Harris Interactive survey of more than 23,000 full-time employees in a range of industries, including hospitality, automotive, banking. communications, retail and technology, that found that:

  • 37 percent of respondents knew the company's goals.
  • 20 percent were enthusiastic about those goals.
  • 20 percent could see how they could support those goals.
  • 20 percent fully trusted the company they worked for.
  • 15 percent felt empowered to work toward those goals.

Organizations that want to avoid such shortcomings and build strong teams should start by shifting how managers perceive their own roles, Throness writes. "We often use the term manager to describe someone who is in charge of people. However, this term reinforces the illusion that people can, in fact, be 'managed.' We need to begin to think of ourselves as leaders, or better yet, coaches."

People are inherently unmanageable, Throness concedes, but only by taking an unvarnished look at each member of your team can you uncover your true stars and spot underperformers.

He offers four simple questions to help leaders distinguish the great employees from the not-so-great:

  • If you could do it all over again, would you rehire her?
  • Does he take your stress away?
  • How would you feel if she quit?
  • What if everyone in your business was just like him?

Many organizations avoid dealing with poor performers, but keeping them on the payroll doesn't do your team or your business any favors, Throness writes, and often causes star players to leave for greener pastures.

Instead of focusing on "fixing" employees with performance issues, Throness, a veteran coach, recommends that HR make retaining and developing the organization's stars its highest priority. That might include providing money, perks, recognition, autonomy, access or increased responsibility, depending on the person.

"Tending to your stars is the single most important task you have as a leader," he writes.

According to Throness, a poor culture tolerates underperformance, but a great culture insists that every person on the team play as a star.

Desda Moss is managing editor of HR Magazine.


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