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Self-conquest is far better than the conquest of others. Not even a god, an angel, Mara or Brahma can turn into defeat the victory of a person who is self-subdued and ever restrained in conduct.

Dhammapada, VIII, 104-105 (·3rd century BCE)

There is something that comes first way before the projects HR leads daily; something that also comes before any IT software, any remuneration policy, and any recruitment process. That something marks the difference between a healthy organization and a sick organization. It’s all about relational skills training; the way we look after and encourage our employees to relate to one another healthily and efficiently.

My job is to understand people and the circumstances presiding over their activities. I don’t go to my clients to judge them, but rather to understand them and support their change or improvement processes.

The successful relational skills training focuses on building healthy relationships based on awareness, accountability, and shared learning. All the conclusions in this article come from my experience in facilitating pioneering programmes about high-impact learning in relational skills throughout Spain for a highly representative sample of our business world. An earlier article in this blog on the 6 keys for change management in people complements this one. Reading both will give you a better insight on how to better manage change with better relational skills.

What does training in relational skills involve?

There are two types of training within organizations: competencies training (theory and technical applications) and skills training (practice and constant application). Unfortunately most organizations overlook the extraordinary transformational and competitive power of skills training; instead they invest all their training plans into acquiring technical know-how.

The main problem with this training strategy is that you cannot learn to be a good professional, a co-worker, a good people manager or a good provider for your client in a software course.

New technologies are very important today, but they are barely profitable when compared to the old technologies based on: dialogue, empathy, strategy, emotional management, leadership or understanding of people. These technologies of before bring incredible results daily that build, maintain and grow teams.

Relational skills training, as its name implies, is part of competencies training. It forms the groundwork for the programmes I facilitate, and they even help both teams mired in conflict and people to move forward. An unshakeable faith in an individual’s potential is always present.

Keys of relational skills training

Today I would like to share some of the key points on this kind of training.

1. To facilitate transition from victim to protagonist

It’s OK to see TV series about zombies, but not to experience them. One of the most interesting and rewarding outcomes of relational skills training is how co-workers are humanized through their true needs. Transitioning from the victim to becoming the protagonist involves taking on the responsibility for the organization’s actual situation and for experiencing the benefits of proactivity in one’s own satisfaction.

2. To boost team learning, trust and mutual respect

No one can learn to relate to others through a book or withdrawn in their own cave. Relationship skills are put into practice, discussed and modified on the go and between ourselves. In the sessions and workshops I facilitate, I observe how the space for the trust and respect that’s created is often revolutionary.

3. To deliver outstanding short- and mid-term return on investment

Continuous training in relational skills produces highly positive impacts in the work environment, people’s behaviour and improves their realities. The return on investment, while not tangible in economic terms, often makes many people managers weep with joy. While not miraculous, such programmes transform seemingly impossible situations to into doable work scenarios.

4. To break the fear towards hierarchy and the comfort zone

Relational skills programs unblock scenarios marked by conflict or paralysis through the implementation of effective and dynamic relationship models that drive change.

5. Programmes spaced over time to favour action

Relational skills are not learnt in a one-day workshop; instead they must be continually honed. They are forgotten if they aren’t practiced and reviewed regularly. That is why such programmes run over extended times periods through regular sessions in order to review experiences and access new continuous learning modules.

6. A humanly rewarding experience

Training in relational skills within an organization is always well received by attendees as its usefulness goes beyond the work environment and helps people to understand human behaviour. After completing either the programme or some of the workshops, attendees often recommend children or parents to explore this kind of experience openly.

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David Criado

About David Criado

David Criado is a facilitator and a change agent. He has worked in consultancy for large and mid size accounts in three of the leading traditional consulting companies (Tecnocom, Indra and Everis) in Spain. Currently he coaches teams and organizations independently through training and implementing mid and long term projects under the principles of craft consultancy. He is a founder of the Vorpalina Initiative, a network of change agents whose goal is to transform organizational cultures in Spain. He holds an International Executive Master on Intrapreneurship and Collaborative Innovation (MINN) using the Tiimiakatemia team coaching model (Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences) endorsed by Mondragón Unibertsitatea, another Master in Management Systems and Information Technology from the International Graduate Institute in Barcelona, and also completed Master Studies on Free Software from the University of King Juan Carlos in Madrid. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Information and Documentation from the Complutense University of Madrid and the University of Catalonia. He is currently completing a Masters in Humanist Coaching and Management of people and organizations (MAD).

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