Q. I recently got some feedback indicating that I need to do a better job of interacting with people. However, I think I have great people skills. Is there a way I can measure my people skills and how well I am interacting with others?
A. We suggest measuring your level of social endorsement.
Today’s jobs require interaction. Unless you are an artisan, your job probably involves taking input from others and adding to it or handing-off your work to others. Even the artisan has to interact with customers or someone who will help to get their product to others. Almost no one works in a vacuum. Employment ads ask for high levels of teamwork, people skills and excellent communication. Employers measure their associates on their ability to work well with others. Employees need to have the ability to create social endorsement.
Obviously, the ability to get along, to be respected and liked is important, but how do you know if you are successful? You can test your level of social endorsement by answering one simple question.
Do people want to work with you?
First, don’t confuse forced interaction, with people wanting to work with you. We once worked with a payroll professional whom we will call Sam. Sam believed that he was well liked by his colleagues. Employees and managers alike collectively spent hours each month asking him questions and working through payroll issues. If you had an issue with your paycheck, you went to Sam. Unfortunately, Sam was the only game in town. He was the only employee who could answer your payroll questions. People didn’t really like working with Sam. He was often caustic and belittled people. Customer service didn’t seem important to him. However, Sam thought he had social endorsement because of all the people who would come to his office.
A better indicator of social endorsement is invitations to attend meetings or join committees that don’t require your field of expertise. Do people within your organization ask you to take the lead on projects or special assignments? Do people want your help with the company picnic, to sit on a task force or to join in a brainstorming session? If not, you probably need to evaluate your level of social endorsement. Ask a friend or someone you trust in the organization to give you feedback. Ask them if people want to work with you. Evaluate their response in light of your experience. If it isn’t as positive as you would like, it is time to work on your business relationships.
Another way to judge your level of social endorsement is to evaluate if people ask your opinion about things outside of your normal scope of responsibilities. Do people want to know how you think about topics of interest? Do they listen to you and feel comfortable sharing their thoughts. Do they seek you out for advice or counsel? If so, you probably enjoy an adequate level of social endorsement. However, there is one more question. Do you have a good level of social endorsement within diverse groups or only your immediate group?
We all tend to socialize and develop relationships with a small group of people. These people most often have specific things in common with us. Perhaps we are the same age or gender. Maybe we have the same expertise in HR or IT. We feel comfortable with each other because we are like each other. The true test of social endorsement is to develop this with individuals who are not in our immediate group. If people from outside your sphere reach out to you, you have developed true social endorsement.
You cannot be successful in business unless you can build and maintain great relationships. After all, business is about relationships. We don’t do business with numbers or companies. We do business with people. Measuring your level of social endorsement by answering this one key question is essential to this process.