How to help your team cultivate social skills

When you focus on people's well-being, the environment changes completely.

7 min read

The opinions expressed by collaborators are personal.

“Before being a leader, success is your personal growth. When you become the leader, success is the personal growth of others ”- Jack Welch

How to help your team cultivate social skills
How to help your team cultivate social skills

Many years ago when I founded my company JotForm, I thought success would come when I found the right formula. If I was able to increase my technical skills and do XYZ, then I could achieve clearer and more measurable goals . I thought that being able to demonstrate my abilities was what led me to become a great leader, but the problem is that I was only thinking about myself . If I could become the most creative, capable, and innovative version of myself, then everything would miraculously fall into place.

Here's what I've learned since then: Helping your team manage emotional intelligence and social skills is just as important, if not more, than maintaining a committed and productive work environment.

Wait, what exactly are social skills?

Think about all the demanding and complex tasks your team performs on a day-to-day basis, from making reports and answering emails to managing demanding clients. There is an element of stress in all of these activities, internal or external. No matter how much they love their job, there are times when all of this overwhelms them. We have all experienced excess stress at some point, and beyond the discomfort, it also negatively affects our performance. As Rick Fernandez writes for the Harvard Business Review: “As work is becoming more demanding and complex, and since most of us now work in 24/7 environments, anxiety and fatigue are very common. In our work environments where pressure prevails, staying productive and engaged can be challenging. ”

And here comes social skills, emotional intelligence, or the ability to build resilience and to interact effectively with others. Flexibility, problem solving, and the ability to communicate correctly are critical to managing feelings of tension.

How resilience helps you succeed

“The growth and development of people is the most important purpose of leadership.” – Harvey S. Firestone

Being a leader means creating a workspace focused on the personal growth and development of your people. If there's one thing I've learned in these 13 years as CEO, it's been that focusing on productivity without wellness doesn't get you anywhere.

Eric Garton wisely points out in a story for the Harvard Business Review that while fatigue is a common phenomenon, it is a problem for the company, not the person. He writes: “Managers have to take responsibility for creating the stress that leads to fatigue: intense workloads, job insecurity, and frustrating work routines that include too many meetings and too little time to work. Once managers confront the problem at the organizational level, they can use organizational measures to solve it. ”

In other words, if you don't make happiness a priority at the office, your business will suffer. That's right. As Woodrow Wilson puts it: “You are not here to make a living. You are here to allow the world to live more broadly, with a bigger vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you become impoverished if you forget it. ”

Internalizing aggressive growth pressure is easy, but here is the question: When people feel they care about it, their performance goes to heaven. This happens because the foundation of your company is built on empathy and compassion instead of conversion rates or the need to be the best.

During my time at the helm of JotForm, I have made a commitment to focus on slow, sustained growth that allows my team to work healthy hours and live fulfilling lives outside of work. This has also involved implementing strategies that improve their resilience.

How to help your team manage social skills

John Maxwell, American author and speaker, argues that to add value to others one must first value others. As a leader, helping people stop and recharge throughout their day should be your priority, but how do you build systems that allow it? In simple terms, this is accomplished by focusing on creating mini-spaces throughout the day and being more flexible and time-conscious of employees.

Dispel the myth of multitasking

When employees divide their attention between different tasks, fatigue comes much faster. Better motivate your team members to focus on deep work, or to reach a state of constant flux, in which they are highly focused on an activity and feel a deep sense of satisfaction.

As I have written before, when we feel absorbed by a single task, we do not have too much attention to have useless mental talks or worry about problems beyond our control. Instead of asking your employees to do 10 different tasks, ask them to spend 90-minute blocks on a specific task.

Give priority to free time

Being clear and explicit with your expectations is important. As digital distractions pile up around work, let your employees know they don't expect them to be “always connected.” For example, I tell my team to log out of Slack and not reply to emails during their free time or on weekends. This allows them to disconnect completely and come back more rested and energized. Promoting the physical and mental well-being of employees makes them feel more engaged, creative, and able to display the necessary leadership skills.

Fosters a supportive environment

Nothing improves or affects productivity and performance like happiness. Therefore, emotional commitment should have a central place in your company; that is, being open and genuinely interested in your personal development. Boosting the right support for your team involves asking them about what they do outside of work. Be deliberate in opening the door to feedback and spending time developing and recognizing your abilities and talents.

Most importantly: When you focus on people's well-being, the whole environment changes. People are charged with energy for the work they do and it shows. Whenever I am in a meeting and see the result of the creativity of my people, I know that I have made the right decision. And I remember Orison Swett Marden's definition of what “real” success is:

There is no investment you can make that will give you better results than the effort made to distribute sunlight and good vibes in your business .”

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