Relational Intelligence definition: An ability to handle complex human relationships
A client recently related a story to me. “Jane,” she said, “There is a young woman in the office next to mine. Next to me–two pieces of door molding between us. This woman put a meeting on my calendar and marked it urgent. At the time of the meeting, she then FaceTimed me–right from her office next door.”
Feel free to chuckle–I certainly did. Has a similar incident happened to you? Have you noticed that these kinds of communication “misses” seem to be occurring with increasing regularity? If you have, you’re not wrong: they are.Today 80 percent of hiring executives say they are having trouble finding soft-skilled employees.The truth is, however, that such skills aren’t soft at all–they are the skills used to build relationships.
A survey conducted by Hay Group revealed that 69 percent of graduates make the claim that soft skills “get in the way of getting the job done.” They are, in fact, confident in their ability to succeed without them. But in the next decade technical skills, IQ and and MBA won’t be hiring differentiators. A study of recently graduated MBAs showed that while they were fantastic at information gathering, quantitative expertise and analysis, they were completely lacking in skills such as strategic thinking, oral communication, leadership and adaptability. The cost of these skill deficits is becoming higher and higher, and hiring executives are quickly waking up. Since 2000, there has been a 40 percent drop in the ability of college students to empathize. Younger workers appear to be lacking in other key skills required for business success–understanding the rules of business engagement, situational awareness, dealing with conflict, contextualizing and learning agility. Organizations are quick to Millennial “shame and blame”, but slow to realize that younger workers depend on their employers to help them fill these skill gaps.
How has relationship building, a need that we are fundamentally wired for, become such a deficiency in business? Technology is no longer our servant; it has become our master. We’ve become convinced that having the patience to communicate in full sentences rather than emojis is too much effort; that walking to the office next door to have an urgent conversation is too exhausting or just not worth it. The cost is too high. We must recalibrate. We need to be more intentional in building cultures, business processes and skill-building programs that promote relationship building and Relational Intelligence.
How do you know if relationships are key to your business? I’d posit that if your business involves people, and those people either work from you or buy from you, then relationships are important.
What are the symptoms of a culture of poor relationship developers?
- Time is squandered because poor communication takes longer to process and untangle misunderstandings.
- Trust and loyalty are eroding because of lack of clarity.
- Conflicts are unaddressed leading to low engagement, low productivity and low morale and client mistrust.
- Low morale is increasing because of insensitive, ineffective, and inadequate communication.
- Employee turnover is costing your organization. (This is sometimes as high as three times the person’s annual salary)
- You are losing revenue from misalignment with customers
These issues cost organizations billions of dollars a year.
You can begin to operationalize Relational Intelligence with:
Identify the value of great internal and external relationships to your organization. Determine skill gaps and craft development plans to close the gaps. Build consensus in your organization.
Build Relational Intelligence into your cultural norms and business processes. Articulate your organization’s unwritten rules of engagement.
Nothing happens without manager engagement. Managers must demonstrate the behaviors of Relational Intelligence.
Determine what ‘moving the needle’ looks like for your organization.
- Improved engagement numbers
- Employees are giving more discretionary effort in their jobs
- Improved conflict management. Or, conflict isn’t getting escalated as much to senior management (internal and external)
- Fewer client complaints
- More F2F conversations
- More Sales!
Our relationships won’t happen exclusively online – ever – we are fundamentally wired to connect. It is a matter of biology. And, technical skills are valuable, clearly. But, technology is no help to business without a balance of human skills.
The way we do business is changing. That is a true statement. It is also true that we’ll always have relationships in business. They won’t all be online. In fact, the most important interactions won’t be online. Start now to fill the relationship building gaps in your organization. Your bottom line will reward you.
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