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Harv Bus Rev. 2004 Jun;82(6):78-86, 136.

Understanding "people" people.

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Harvard Business School, Boston, USA.


Nearly all areas of business--not just sales and human resources--call for interpersonal savvy. Relational know-how comprises a greater variety of aptitudes than many executives think. Some people can "talk a dog off a meat truck," as the saying goes. Others are great at resolving interpersonal conflicts. Some have a knack for translating high-level concepts for the masses. And others thrive when they're managing a team. Since people do their best work when it most closely matches their interests, the authors contend, managers can increase productivity by taking into account employees' relational interests and skills when making personnel choices and project assignments. After analyzing psychological tests of more than 7,000 business professionals, the authors have identified four dimensions of relational work: influence, interpersonal facilitation, relational creativity, and team leadership. This article explains each one and offers practical advice to managers--how to build a well-balanced team, for instance, and how to gauge the relational skills of potential employees during interviews. To determine whether a job candidate excels in, say, relational creativity, ask her to describe her favorite advertising campaign, slogan, or image and tell you why she finds it to be so effective. Understanding these four dimensions will help you get optimal performance from your employees, appropriately reward their work, and assist them in setting career goals. It will also help you make better choices when it comes to your own career development. To get started, try the authors' free online assessment tool, which will measure both your orientation toward relational work in general and your interest level in each of its four dimensions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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