Being able to work effectively with people is one of the most important factors in determining our success on the job.
Certainly, mastering the technical side of the job is important. If you are an airline pilot, you’d better be able to put the plane on the runway—every time—regardless of how well you get along with the rest of the ﬂight crew. You would never recommend a doctor to a friend by saying, “Dr. XYZ is not much of a doctor, but he’s a nice guy. I think you’ll like him.”
But as important as technical mastery may be, it may not be enough to guarantee success.
Nine times out of ten, people who switched/lost their jobs had the technical ability it took to do the job. They could not get along with other people or they had “attitudinal problems,” which, usually show up in the form of disrupted relationships anyway. Inability to work with people may put a lid on someone’s promotion. Some highly skilled people stay where they are in the organization because it is all too apparent that they would make terrible managers.
Companies look for people who demonstrate the ability to do their jobs well. Then they promote them with the hope that they can manage other people who are doing similar work. Once promoted, what often separates the successful from the not-so-successful managers is their mastery of interpersonal skills.
Success in leadership positions requires the ability to work with and through other people. If you are already in management/leadership role, you know how important it is to be able to work with a wide variety of people. You may not yet be in a leadership position but see that as the next step in developing your career. If so, you will certainly want to continue demonstrating that you can do your job well. But you will also need to show that you can work well with other people.
Our capacity to get along with other person is important for yet another reason—job satisfaction. We devote a huge proportion of our adult life to work. The quality of our life at work is a critical factor in determining the quality of our entire life. If you work forty hours a week, you are likely to devote at least eighty to ninety thousand hours of your adult life to work! Your work had better be gratifying if you expect to have a full and satisfying life.
One of the most important factors in determining how people like their jobs is the quality of the relationships they ﬁnd there. No matter how much we might like a particular task the job requires of us, it is hard to stay excited about a job if we get along terribly with our boss or our co-workers.
On the other hand, working with great people will make even a routine job more enjoyable. We spend a great deal of time with people on the job. On workdays, most of us spend more of our waking hours with our co-workers than we do with our families. We may also work with some of the same people for years, day in and day out. So the quality of these relationships is vitally important to us.
It’s Never Been Easy
Working together isn’t easy. The truth is, almost everyone has times when dealing with people is one of the most aggravating things about working. We may have a co-worker who is difﬁcult to get along with.
We may have a boss who is hard to get to know and almost impossible to please. Or we may have occasional problems working with customers. Working with people can be frustrating. It can get so bad that interpersonal problems may be the one thing that keeps us from ﬁnding satisfaction in the job we have at the time. We may like the work itself and the customers we serve, and we may even enjoy working with most of our co-workers. But one difﬁcult relationship at work can ruin your whole day -day after day.
Making Things Happen
When people talk about their frustrations, they usually focus on other people as the source of their problems.
· Managers complain about people who are not performing as expected.
· Employees complain about managers who are not sharing information or delegating authority.
· Everyone complains about co-workers, talking about individuals who don’t pull their own weight or people who are hard to get along with.
If you just ask, “Have you talked to this person about this? Have you tried to solve this problem?” More often than not, the answer is “Are you kidding? I can’t talk to him (or her) about that!”
Other possible comment is, I am a Technical Person and dealing with People is not my cup of tea.
Making things work at work begins with your willingness to step forward and make things happen. When things at work are not going as well as you would like them to, the only useful question to ask is, “How am I the source of this? What am I doing—or not doing—that is contributing to things turning out the way they are?”
When things are not going the way you want, it is all too easy to look for someone to blame—your boss, a coworker, “management,” or the ever-popular “politics.”
But the conversation we are having about your life at work is not about the other person. It is about us. There is almost always something we are doing—or not doing—that is playing a part in things turning out the way they are. Sometimes I hate taking my own advice. When something doesn’t go my way, I would prefer to blame some other person as the source of the problem. I must confess that I may even ﬁnd a certain satisfaction in complaining to friends about what a raw deal I’m getting But if I look carefully, I almost always ﬁnd something I could have done differently. Or I will ﬁnd something I should have done but did not do that is contributing to the situation.
It is impossible to get dumped on unless we ﬁrst properly position ourself. Our circumstances are always about us, not the other guy.
Suppose one do not get enough coaching and feedback from his boss.
· Have you asked for it?
· Maybe you have a staff member whose performance is less than satisfactory. Have you been offering this person corrective coaching?
· Maybe you have a co-worker who is hard to work with. Have you tried to reach out and resolve any issues affecting your relationship?
Perhaps an even more important question to ask in any of these situations at work is, “Am I willing to look at my role in this situation, or do I just want to keep on blaming other people?”
Looking at our own role is not just a way to blame ourselves and feel bad about how we do things. On the contrary, once we start to look at how we participated in the way things turned out, we will begin to identify things we can do to resolve this situation and avoid similar problems in the future.
Talking to Each Other
Everything we need to make your job start getting better is just a conversation away from movement in the right direction. Everything our company needs to be great is already present in the hearts and minds of the people who work there. But all too often, these ideas go unexpressed and unheard, in part because we sometimes do not know how to talk to each other about work.
It’s silence that kills organizations. Conﬂict, even poorly handled, may even be preferable. At least we’d be talking to each other, and some good might come out of that.
Working with other people may be challenging, but it does not have to be impossible.