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Measuring Link between “Relationship Effeciveness” and Botton line results

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I often use a quote from Charles Hampton Turner – London Business School, when working with customers, to under line the need for companies to focus,at least as much on internal Interpersonal Skills/ Influencing skills / Communications and Dialogue Skills as on hard skills/ techical issues
Quote
No Product or Service can be better or more sensitive, aesthetic or intelligent than the relationships
and
communications
of those who create the product or service.
Unquote
Harvey Jones says something very similar Companies are about People and relationships not balance sheets and print outs - you get the gist.........
My question is :-
Does anyone know of any work -
Books / published papers or any in -company experiences ( Leading Indicators) that show in a measureable form the link between Improving Relationship and Influencing skills and making an impact on the bottom line.
I am personally more than convinced of the need for focus on "Soft Skills" so do not need more convincing- but wish to be better able to prove this vital connection to 'soft' skills which still get subjugated to "technical skills" training in many organisations
Barry J.A .Bond

Barry Bond

9 Responses

  1. The hard case for soft skills?
    Barry

    I’ve recently been working on a project to improve the staff retention in a large local government authority.

    The driver for this was cash – the client was spending some £600K extra cash over the year than it had budgetted for, and had a 32% turnover of new starters within first 6 months.

    Two root causes accounted for approx 85% of reasons people left – primarily the way their line managers treated them and behaved towards them, and to a very much lesser extent, the reality of the job didn’t fit with the job adverts, and this turned out to be mostly a function of poor induction, easily fixed, if not quickly.

    Part of the fix for the retention issue is therefore a front line manager development programme focused very firmly on a narrow set of people management & interpersonal skills. The cost is a shade under £70K and the cash benefits to the client are approx £300K in first 12 months.

    I am happy to discuss further, though I cannot disclose the identity of the client.

    Is this what you had in mind?

    By the way I’m also using the same approach and method to address an ‘us and them’ situation within a dispersed team – poor dynamics, poor service, high stress levels etc, with no improvements for 3 yrs – until now!

    Cheers

    Martin

  2. Relationships management
    This doesnt exactly align with your issue but it is relevant on a higher level.
    There’s a well known case study here in Queensland Australia where the construction of the new highway between Brisbane and the Gold Coast was facing major problems;
    – over budget due to contract changes between the Government and the contractors
    – Competition betwen contractors – no comunication, high conflict
    – Seeming inability to complete the final section of the highway due to budget / time constrictions
    – legal battles looming re contract issues
    The Department of main Roads decided to take a “relationships” approach to solving these dilemmas and appointed one of their top people to act as relationship manager for the project. basically he had very good relational / communication skills; was an experienced engineer; and had a clear purpose to get people working in partnership to solve the problems.
    Through this approach, they managed to develop partnerships, resolve the looming legal actions befor ethey went to court, negotiate contracts and get the various contractors working togeher to solve the problems. the savings in dollar terms to Government were multi-million dollars and the higway was built on time.
    This approach (ie a relationship manager for projects) is being used extensively for all sorts of major infrastructure projects.

  3. hard results from soft skills.
    Barry
    Let me have your E-Mail address and I will send you a graph that shows how a workforce saved their company 27% of the operating budget in a year by addressing their soft skills.
    [email protected]

  4. Harvard Business Review
    Dear Barry,
    Harvard have a research project on the benefits of influencing and have published many articles on the subject. A visit to their website is worthwhile. Whilst some materials are free most articles cost about $US8 to download.

    Regards,

    Mick Walsh

  5. Measuring Relationship effectiveness
    Sue,Mick,Martin and Peter, thanks all for taking time out to add something , all of which are useful. I think the fact that this topic has had over 350 “hits” indicates the very real interst and importance that this area holds for both Training and OD professionals. 356 people interested in taking a look , only 4 responses which is a shame as I feel if more could chuck something into the arena here, that this could grow into a valueable discussion topic for all.I am truly interested in anything that adds to the fairly slim amount of real data or facts currently available. Lots of anecdotal stuff seems to exist which is useful but I am really intested in any PHD or Masters Thesis, published papers, books articles that try to nail the link.
    There are a whole raft of books that explore the theme and elegantly suggest that this is thhe route to take:-
    Good to Great by Jim Collins sort of addresses this are but in general tersm and is more Leadership orientated.

    Play to Win – Larry Wilson

    Leadership from the inside out- Kevin Cashman

    The Soul at work- Lewin and Regine

    Leadership and the new Science – Margaret Wheatly

    The Trusted Advisor – David Maister

    But mostly they support the premise that Relationships are at the heart of successfull businesses.
    I think what I am looking for is anything more empirical: such as a study that shows that x amount of resource (time and Money ) invested into relationship training has over xxx years rasied efficiency and bottom line profit by XXX.
    or some hard hard examples such as the one offered by Sue Shaw (Thanks again Sue)

    Would be interested to hear more, learn more please before the topic gets swept off the board – Thanks Barry

  6. Aloowing people to believe the value of Soft Skills.
    Barry et al.
    There is a lot of anecdotal information because it feels right to be able to treat people with respect and value them.
    Until now that was all it was, a feeling, because there was no way that you could demonstrate a business advantage.

    Now we have hard results that show the sort of performance improvements that are not available through any other means.

    Having produced these results there is still a barrier of credibility to overcome before they will be accepted by the business community.

    The next step is to allow people to understand that what has been achieved is possible.

    Only then will they be able to ask ‘How were those results achieved?’

  7. measuring relationship effectiveness – business improvement from
    I have started to look beyond ROI to identified business improvements,and not altogether an easy process.

    The significant move has been towards measuring the decrease in error rate per employee. In preliminary client meetings this features within an initial assessment. Further work is undertaken with client to identify further areas of operation that can be utilised. Early results are encouraging with individuals establishing positive improvements to performance. By highlighting KPI and achievable targets has succeeded in providing client with clear advantages, and begun to identify ‘learning’ and in particular e-learning as a benefitial, cost effective process for employers.

  8. relationship effectiveness
    ello
    I recently read on a website that Gallup have done a study that found that contentious workplace relationships negatively affected organisational performance.
    They say that the study in 2004 found that 30% of employees are actually
    engaged 54% are not engaged and 17% are actually disengaged!Perhaps you can ctc Gallup directly for full details. Makes sense though to organisational performance don’t you think? Hope this helps. Sally Foan

  9. Flirting your way to a good ROI
    We run a flirting consultancy (tongue in cheek, but attention grabbing). Having spent a long career in HR justifying all training on ROI to various financially biased MDs, I can appreciate your quandry. To effectively work out what your ROI is you need to know what your benchmarking of KPIs are, otherwise what’s the point in training for trainings sake?
    Before we work with new clients we do an initial assessment with them to work out the ROI on the project. We don’t want to waste thier money and our time on a project that nobody understands the need for.

    Dependant on the area, nature and climate of the businesses the indicators can run from basic indicators like staff turnover, absence and fuel bills,etc. In a sales environment;conversion rates on sales calls, levels of repeat business, returns, complaint resolution etc . For the professional servivces we’ve worked to the number of people successfully making parter, advertising & PR spend, attracting new business. spend on advertising and PR, client satisfaction. All of which have a direct and quantifiable lead into the bottom line, which can be calculated then subsequently measured and assessed by the client.

    If you haven’t already got your bottom line factored its a very interesting exercise to do and would make an excellent facilitated start to any soft skills project you’re considering.

    Sadly most soft skills training itself is so dull you’d rather eat your head than do it, never mind put it into practise at work. Because companies dont put the effort into quantifying the effects on the business, they pick the cheapest most uninspired providers and get results proportional to the input. Hence picking a dynamic provider will also have a significant positive effect of your actual ROI against projected.

    Our philosophy is that soft skills training should be as beneficial outside the work place as in, therefore people are inclinded to practise all the time until they’re doing it all second nature. By relating it to relationships generally and not treating people like workplace androids it makes it twice as powerful. Our second stage feedback often includes comments like “My wife says I’m a changed man and she wishes I’d done it years ago”.

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