What Are Relational Skills Within the Workplace?

Relational skills are required to develop opportunities and accomplish business objectives.
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The technology that takes center-stage on office tabletops makes it clear that some employers focus on the development of the technical, analytical and financial skills of employees. However, technical or financial expertise is not enough to work with others to generate ideas and develop the opportunities that are critical to a company's success. Len Sperry writes in “Becoming an Effective Leader: Strategies for Maximizing Executive Productivity and Health,” that for an employee to best support a company's long-term success, relational skills are required. These include communication, motivation, conflict resolution and coaching.


    Sperry describes communication as a means to transfer knowledge and guidance, both inside and outside the organization. Successful interaction with others requires that an employee attempt to get along with others, respond appropriately to their statements and reactions, and convey facts effectively. For example, skilled communicators select a suitable environment in which to communicate and ensure appropriate parties are present. They then establish what others know and share information in a straightforward manner. Equally important, the effective communicator allows time for others to absorb information, checks for understanding, responds to comments respectfully, and establishes goals and a plan for future communications.


    Sperry also states that individual and team productivity rely on an employee's ability to inspire other staff members and do what is possible to eliminate sources of employee dissatisfaction. For example, an effective motivator first establishes other employees’ views of the world by asking open-ended questions. After he understands the needs and experiences of others, he proposes realistic goals, and may suggest how to achieve agreed-to objectives. The employee then works with others to prioritize work, offers words of encouragement, and reinforces the objectives on an ongoing basis.

Conflict Resolution

    Conflict can quickly block any employee's efforts to achieve assigned objectives in an efficient and effective manner. Sperry suggests that employees with relational skills learn to ease tension, and prevent and resolve arguments. For example, the employee with this relational skill recognizes that conflicts may result from misunderstandings, differences in values or emotional reactions to statements or events. To resolve an issue, the employee will gather the interested parties together to exchange information, clarify issues and make decisions. Rather than spend time disagreeing about facts, the skilled employee will emphasize the overall objective and the significance of the objective to everyone's best interests. He will then ask questions, make clarifying statements, and work with others to present valid alternatives and decide on an action plan.


    Sperry suggests that guiding and encouraging others to achieve optimal performance, according to established standards, is the most essential of relational skills. A coach creates a collaborative relationship with another employee in which both the coach and employee work together to define performance objectives and share perspectives. Both parties then agree to an action plan that consists of steps the employee will take to accomplish a goal and a related time schedule. During the work process, the coach follows up with the employee and provides guidance or resources. At the conclusion of the process, the coach and employee determine if the outcome is successful, and if necessary, take corrective actions.

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