The Stanford Research Institute, Harvard University, and the Carnegie Foundation once spent over one million dollars and five years of research studying why some people succeed. After the study was concluded, it was determined that 15% of the reason a person can get a job, keep a job, and move ahead in that job, is determined by his or her technical skills and knowledge, regardless of the profession. The other 85% of the reason a person can get a job, keep that job and move ahead in that job, is directly related to people skills. It soon becomes apparent that working with people and managing people, starting with ourselves, must be a high priority if we are going to be successful.
Even though I have heard that statistic quoted many times, I am still amazed at how much of business and life is primarily determined by the task that must be done rather than the people skills that are necessary to complete the job. It seems to me that because the task often overrides the relationship, we tend to get our eyes on the wrong thing. We frequently focus on accomplishing the task in front of us rather than realizing the value found in people and relationships.
Almost every marriage begins on a great note because two people set out to build a lasting relationship. However, it is not long until the activity of accomplishing tasks becomes the norm. Getting up, going to work, doing your job, paying the bills, cutting the grass, house repairs, car maintenance, routine interruptions… you get the idea. Can you see how daily tasks “scream” at you, and it is not long before they drown out the relationship?
Anyone who has ever had children understands this as well. It starts with such a beautiful relationship when your own flesh and blood is born into the world. And quickly, the tasks begin – feeding, changing, and watching the baby. That infant quickly becomes a young child. Then, protecting them, raising them, educating them, training them, taking them to school and to all sorts of school activities…here we go again. See how the task constantly pulls against the relationship? Yet, according to the study that I quoted above, 85% of success has to do with people skills and relationships, while only 15% has to do with the tasks that seem to consume us so easily. I don’t know about you, but I find that simply remarkable.
The place I observed this demonstrated the most is in restaurants. Naturally, when you go into a restaurant, you are going there for the purpose of eating. Therefore, it is a task you are trying to accomplish. Yet, stop and think about it for a minute. Your server can literally make or break the entire experience. If they have a positive, upbeat, friendly attitude when you place your order, almost everything goes well. But, if they seem to have a sour attitude, it immediately makes the experience unpleasant. It even causes the food you ordered not to taste good! I think most of the time when we go out to eat, most of us have a good experience. However, we have all had a bad experience on occasion. It usually has very little to do with the food and almost everything to do with the “relational connection” that we call service. That is why in the relationship, whether it is in sales or service, people skills must be the priority because that sets the tone for everything else. Why do you think there has been a shift in the response at restaurants and other service-oriented locations lately? People have stopped saying, “You’re welcome.” They now say, “My pleasure.” That is because that response is more relational and caring.
Do you treat the people that you work with every day like they are important to you? What about the people with whom you live or your extended family? What about those that you hardly know but with whom you come in contact on a fairly regular basis? When I owned an office building, I always made sure my UPS delivery got a cold drink and a protein bar from our office refrigerator when he made a delivery. He knew I cared about him! Do you think he liked coming by our office?
One of the most valuable concepts that I possess is the knowledge that relationships are more important than things, that people are more important than tasks, and that success, by a large margin, is found in our people skills, not in our technical skills or knowledge.
This week, step back and make a concentrated effort to have a paradigm shift in your life. I am not suggesting in any way that you give up learning the technical skills you need to accomplish the tasks you want to see completed. But put the horse in front of that cart and go out of your way to demonstrate positive, uplifting, encouraging, helpful people skills with those with whom you come in contact. You will see a major difference in your own personal attitude as well as in the success rate of all that you do. I guarantee it!
Tip: The most important things in life are not things!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm