Using People Skills to Retain and Improve Culture

When I was in kindergarten, I walked to and from school. It wasn’t too far – about a mile or so. I remember in that first week of kindergarten while walking home, I tried to make friends with these “tall” girls. It’s always intimidating when someone is taller than you, but I said “Hi” anyway, hoping they would be nice. Instead, I was told I was too short to walk with them. I ran the rest of the way home. I thought they must not like being so tall, and that is why they were picking on me! It wasn’t long after that I discovered both of those “tall” girls had older siblings that knew my older siblings. Eventually, we became friends because they gave me a chance. Although, I never forgot how it felt being slighted because I didn’t fit into what they thought their friends should be.
So, why do I tell this story? In today’s work environment, we still see people bullying each other through demeaning acts that seek to destroy, damage or obstruct someone’s work performance, work product, tools or materials.
To help alleviate this issue, building a strong company culture focused on retaining employees and learning from each other is key. My role as a Business Solutions Manager requires strong customer service skills. These customer service skills (or people skills) can be applied to working with coworkers, clients, upper management and so on.
Key ingredients to effectively assist customers always include listening, understanding and managing emotions to reach a resolution. Showing you understand through words or actions is vital to building a bond with whomever you’re working with. Self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills are all key components of emotional intelligence
Below are essential skills that can help companies retain and build a strong culture.
Respect This also goes with empathy. If we don’t learn about each other, how do we respect each other? Respect is treating each other fairly, acknowledging and valuing those differences, and having open communication. If there are conflicts, they should be addressed early. Culture is so important – empowerment and cooperation are key to this. 
Learning from the past (cross-training) – I believe most jobs I have had in my life were because I recognized I could fit into another role. Wouldn’t it be great if someone recognized it in you? If we are not working together through cross-training, collaborating and sharing ideas, how would anyone know what you bring to the table?
Appreciation for each other – Again, if we don’t know about each other, where does the respect come in? When I was at a former employer, we were asked to read “Ubuntu”, a powerful story about the African philosophy of teamwork and collaboration. This, too, starts with respect by listening and acknowledging each other’s lives and situations. 
Active listening – If we don’t pay attention to each other, how do we respond and learn to help each other? We must listen and accept feedback – good or bad. This is important for internal and external customers.
Using the skills above will create a strong culture and empower your team to work together. So, how does this all relate to training? If we aren’t listening and communicating with our customers or our team, how can we know what the customer is expecting from their experience with us? They may feel they received poor service when they experience negative emotions – frustration, concern or a sense of being unwelcome. 
Lastly, I’ll leave you with this quote from Albert Einstein which explains how someone in an adverse situation could react.
Weak people revenge.
Strong people forgive
Intelligent people ignore.
And I would add:
Caring people help.
A great way to improve your culture is by training your team. Investing in employees shows you want to give them the tools and resources to improve and effectively do their job. The Center offers several classes on leadership and culture. Check out the schedule here and register for upcoming courses!
MEET OUR EXPERT: Tricia Onesian, Business Solutions Manager
Onesian_T-web.jpgTricia started at The Center in January 2016 as a Business Solutions Manager. Previously, she spent six years as a Sales Executive/Relationship Manager for a highly successful commercial cleaning and building maintenance company. Her customer service passion began more than 30 years ago in various customer service and management positions with paper manufacturing and warehousing companies including Westvaco, Abitibi-Price and Toledo Harbor Warehousing. She also is enthusiastic about helping customers in their individual fundraising efforts that support health and community service programs.
Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at


Categories: Leadership/Culture, Sales & Marketing, workforce, Workplace