How To Develop The People Skills You Need To Succeed In Business


It’s Time To Clean Up Your Act

Written by: James R. Weiss

What does it take to achieve lasting success in your chosen field?

Like the majority of my workshop and seminar students you too are a highly sophisticated professional who is constantly upgrading your business skills. Congratulations, that’s great, but unfortunately many aspiring managers and future vice presidents have neglected to cultivate the “people skills” needed to advance in their career. These are the bits and pieces of practical intelligence that you need to master if you are going to make it in your profession.

Note: Practical intelligence is the ability to know, say and do the right thing at the right time.

Several months ago I was delivering a lecture on business etiquette to a group of young junior executives at the corporate headquarters of one of the largest financial institutions in America. During the question and answer phase of my presentation one hot-shot young man stands up and blurts out something like,” Jim, I got this mother f….r in my department who isn’t completing his assignments on time. What should I do?”

Needless to say his use of foul language quickly caught the attention of the other members of our group. If that wasn’t bad enough during our luncheon another bright star licked his fingers after finishing his chicken wings. Here’s a sad but true story that one of my clients recently told me. “Jim, last summer at our annual picnic my assistant manager slapped and then kicked her seven year old daughter when she was having a temper tantrum. Those of us who were standing near Marion were shocked. How could a grown woman physically abuse here own child? The following Monday I let her go. This type of behavior is not acceptable by responsible adults.”



 It’s Time To Clean Up Your Act

Language still counts Way back during the late ‘60s when I was still in high school my friends and I could accurately curse in ten different languages. Perhaps it was a “Brooklyn thing”, but it is no longer in style to use vulgar language, especially if you want to work in corporate America; and remember, even Vince Diesel refuses to curse in any of his movies

It’s time to start dressing for success Six years ago my associate Jim Greico and I helped to organize a job fair at one of the local universities. Most of my students and clients dressed appropriately for the occasion, except for Angelo. This young scholar showed up wearing jeans a sweat shirt and sneakers. All of which was highlighted by a tooth pick hanging from his lower lip and a pair of sunglasses. As far as I know this scholar is still out there searching for a career that fits his unique style.

Always remember that your interview begins the moment you walk through the front door.

As previously stated in another article, nearly 30% of all job applicants are eliminated before they have a chance to be seated and begin the interview.

Don’t: Wear cheap suits or dresses and never wear someone else’s clothes to an interview, especially if they do not fit properly..
Do: Wear clothes that match and never wear a sports jacket and slacks to an interview
Don’t: Take the smile off your face until you retire at night

Replace old immature habits with new adult ones Unfortunately over the past fifty years television has been providing the wrong role model for many of the young men and women in this country. Many of my students thought it was “cool” to dress and act as if they were characters straight out of the Sopranos or one of the other brainless programs that are currently in vogue. Here are several of the personality types you should avoid like the plague: Miss Cutsie and Mr. Macho I refer to this crowd and the Ken and Barby of corporate America. Everything about this group is fun and cute. “I can’t wait until this silly meeting is over so I can call my friends and tell them all about my new boyfriend”. Here comes Mr. Wise Mouth. Their wise ass remarks and crude stories are their trademark. This type of behavior is great if you are Andrew Dice Clay, but you will never make it in the corporate world.

The indifferent loaner This man or woman is very easy to spot. They very rarely, if ever, participate in company social gatherings and speak only when necessary. Who are these strangers that work beside us every day? No one knows for sure. Most of this crowd does the grunt work in the solitude of their office or cubicle. These people are plain vanilla and usually remain in the same position until they retire or fired.

My friends come first Loyalty to the company is great as long as it does not interfere with the welfare of their friends. This is the “my friends come first, second and third crowd. “I can’t stay for the meeting today, my friend’s mother sprained her leg and we are all going to the hospital to visit her in the emergency room,” This type of behavior is much more wide-spread than you would imagine. In most cases this crew are either relegated to the back room or quickly dismissed during the first round of lay-offs.

 It’s Time To Create Your Own Big Picture

One of the most effective ways to create your own big pictures is to begin setting goals. I’m sure you’ve heard this before and chances are that you may have even establish short and long term goals for yourself, but like anything else you become distracted by your day- to-day problems and concerns. It is for this reason I strongly suggest that you begin by setting a series of short and long term goals that will ultimately take you way out beyond your own limited vision of your future.

For example, let’s say that presently you are employed as a branch manager working at the Brown Banking Company. Your five year goal is to be promoted to division manager who over-sees the day to day operation of six of the bank’s branches in your region. Your ten year goal is to be promoted to vice president in charges of banking operations.

As part of the requirements of my System For Success Workshop each student is required to draw up a detailed five year action plan that will lead to them to a new higher paying position or their own one of a kind business. Here is a synopsis of a plan one my students is using to reach her first five year goal.

Here is how Lisa plans to become the new Director of Financial Planning at Blake and Loren

• Begin study course to prepare for each of the three Certified Financial Analyst examinations
• Volunteer to help her colleagues and friends reach their own career goals
• Join or begin a focus grout to help improve her company’s productivity
• Find a mentor who can help her prepare for her new position at the bank.
• Polish her boss’s brand so he can continue providing the guidance and help Lisa needs to reach her next goal
• Begin networking within and outside her company
• Join several professional organizations and subscribe to magazines and newsletters that can help to increase her professional knowledge
• Pass all three exams required to become a Certified Financial Analyst
• Gradually take on more responsibilities at work
• Become the “go to person” who is known for resolving difficult problems and giving good advice
• Volunteer to hold informal workshops and seminars so she can share her knowledge with colleagues and associates
• Never step out of character
• Volunteer to help organize company parties and off-site get-togethers
• Constantly updating and improving her skills

Now let’s suppose that Lisa has successfully completed all of the activities needed to reach her first five year goal; but unfortunately another member of the staff was selected for the position she wanted. What next? Since this young executive has spent the past five years expanding her body of knowledge, passing a series of professional exams and out-performing the majority of her colleagues she will have a relatively easy time finding a higher paying position at another company if she chooses to do so.

If you have any questions about the information in this article or if you need guidance with your search for a new career please do not hesitate to contact me