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Interpersonal skills: most appreciated and sought after in the 1990s.

Interpersonal skills are the most admired trait in supervisors, managers and senior executives and they are increasingly one of the prime factors in hiring decisions, according to a recent survey by Robert Half International Inc.

The survey of the top 100 companies across Canada found that 32 percent of respondents (from senior management, human resources, finance, sales and marketing) valued interpersonal skills higher than other attributes. 28 percent of respondents rated honesty as the most important characteristic of managers at all levels and 23 percent ranked an open mind as a top priority.

"It is interesting to note that hard work was only a priority with 11 percent of the respondents," says John Archer, President of Robert Half of Toronto Ltd.

The importance of interpersonal skills has much to do with the new types of corporate organizations that are emerging from decentralization and globalization of operations. As a result of these trends, companies are putting greater control into the field and this, in turn, is altering traditional chains of command, resulting in flatter corporate organizations than ever before.

"The result," says Archer, "is that many people are throwing up their hands and asking: who is the boss? The answer emerging is that the real boss in a company or department is the task at hand."

When the task becomes boss, traditional boss/subordinate relationships tend to dissolve and people begin to define new ways of working with one another to achieve a common goal.

"Strong interpersonal skills are essential in managers at all levels of an organization because they are the ones who can and must create efficient and effective teams," concluded the survey.

These skills are particularly important but hardest to find in financial and computer people, who are perceived to have expertise exclusively in numbers or systems, not words.

However, translating these numbers into a meaningful case for undertaking a particular strategy and forging new relationships with other departments to carry out the strategy is now critical to the success of companies and their employees.

"More than ever before, the demands on financial and computer people extend far beyond their own disciplines and interpersonal skills will help them make that extension," says Archer.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Canadian Institute of Management
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Canadian Manager
Date:Mar 22, 1993
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