With an increasing number of organizations experiencing slower-than-expected growth, greater pressure on resources and margins, and a silo mentality and less-than-ideal ways of working, it is more important than ever to invest in “commercial people skills” training in order to boost their commercial performance and fuel their bottom line.
Too often, companies limit their commercial skills training to employees in external-facing roles, such as the sales function. However, as Daniel H. Pink wrote in his book “To Sell is Human,” “Like it or not, we’re all in sales now.”
In other words, whatever our job title, we are all responsible for influencing and persuading others. In fact, organizations that ignore the importance of influencing internal stakeholders as well as their external customers do so at their own peril. With research (see “The EQ Edge: Emotional Intelligence and Your Success” by Steven J. Stein and Howard E. Book) showing that up to 45% of job success is due to emotional intelligence (EQ) — the ability to recognize and manage your own emotions and those of others — the message is clear: If companies want to deliver their commercial aspirations, they need to take practical steps to help their employees hone their commercial EQ skills so they can improve their performance.
Adopting an Emotionally Intelligent Approach to Training
People generally don’t know what they don’t know because of gaps in their knowledge, unconscious biases that shape their decision-making or blind spots that prevent them from achieving their full potential. It is, therefore, the responsibility of HR and L&D professionals to identify and prioritize the employees throughout the organization who would most benefit from developing their commercial people skills.
When it comes to choosing the best training approach, it’s important to bear in mind there is no one-size-fits-all method. In fact, off-the-shelf training rarely works. Companies need to adopt a tailored approach to training if they want to inspire their employees to go the extra mile. This approach means hiring authentic trainers who have experience with the particular challenges the learners are facing. The focus should be less on what they need to do and more on how they do it.
Remember, these so-called “soft” skills are often the hardest to learn. Changing behavior doesn’t happen overnight. It takes ambition, commitment and hard work. The key to helping employees change their behavior is to make it easy, rewarding and normal to do so. Make sure you give employees practical tools and techniques, create momentum for change by recognizing and rewarding their progress, and make the changes a habit by helping them weave the behaviors into their everyday life.
Coaching is a powerful tool to help employees embed their learning. When appropriate, hire an external coach to support them on their journey, or empower their managers to give them one-on-one coaching to focus on their personal development and encourage them to reach their goals.
The Benefits of Commercial People Skills Training
By adopting an emotionally intelligent approach to training in this way, companies will reap the rewards of a more engaged and motivated workforce that is able to build strong, balanced relationships both externally and internally. Remember, people like doing business with people they like, whether they’re a customer, supplier, colleague or boss. By equipping employees to have confident commercial conversations with all of their stakeholders, companies will benefit from greater creativity and collaboration that will, in turn, boost their bottom line.