Do Machines Have Social Skills?

Do Machines Have Social Skills?

No need to worry right away, because as technology dictates workplace functions on new terms, we will still rely on the unique soft skills only humans can provide. Workers will continue to play an indispensable role in creating and cementing links among their teams, management, clients and outside constituents. AI cannot operate with empathy, kindness or compassion. Those are the hallmarks of a social animal.

What are interpersonal skills?

Almost every job requires interpersonal abilities to some extent, whether it is listening and attending to clients, getting along smoothly with colleagues, or inspiring and motivating from the managerial side. Almost everyone, except for lighthouse keepers, must be prepared to interact with their boss and fellow team members. Relationships may be predicated on empathy, relating to how others feel; it is also crucial to understand clients’ concerns to help solve them. Cooperation is a key aspect of forging partnerships directed toward common goals. In order to establish these connections, workers must develop their verbal and written communication, attentive listening, and important nonverbal skills. Body language, gestures and eye contact often express more than lengthy memos can.

Some of the most powerful social skills workers must possess in the workplace are:

  • Positive attitude.
  • Being a team player.
  • Ability to solve problems.
  • Facility to know how to control their tone and volume of voice.
  • Ability to choose their words carefully.
  • Active listening proficiency.
  • Capability of making decisions.
  • Ability to adapt and be flexible to change.
  • Conflict resolution ability.
  • Professionalism.
  • Reliability.
  • Good manners.
  • Supportiveness.
  • Respectfulness.

Consider the skill of being a good listener, for instance. Be careful not to respond until another person has finished speaking. Or, you can cultivate how to skillfully have small talk and instill rapport by paying the right amount of attention to your colleagues. You can also be respectful by encouraging others to express their opinions and not interrupting them.

These traits are sometimes grouped under emotional intelligence. Some of them can be measured by EQ tests that try to quantify characteristics such as self-awareness, social insight, confidence and self-control. How do employees respond to praise or criticism? In their work relationships, are they able to guide or motivate others; bond with, influence or persuade team members; or handle conflicts? These are some of the questions EQ tests can answer.

Importance of the softer side

As technology grows ever more sophisticated, offices are becoming more communal. The typical solitary cubicle is transforming into a more team-based arrangement. Although there is no formal way to measure how team members leverage one another’s contributions, good social skills clearly help integrate team members’ input. Their cohesion supports company culture, which results in less HR intervention. When teams are successfully coordinated, members are happier and more successful at problem-solving and achieving goals. It is no wonder that a Business Solver study showed 93% of employees are likely to stay with a more empathetic employer. A Leadership IQ study revealed that, among new hires, 89% of failures are due to a lack of soft skills and difficulties managing their emotions.

Building social competence

Managers can help employees hone their soft skills by:

  • Identifying problem areas.
  • Setting goals.
  • Encouraging role-playing.
  • Offering feedback.
  • Using positive reinforcement.
  • Assigning homework exercises.

Gamification is particularly useful for enhancing social development. It might take the form of simulation exercises designed to understand customer pain points and complaints or peer-to-peer learning within a group. Many companies turn to training modules to focus on the key moments in client/customer interactions. A typical  example is Walmart’s “Spark City.” The game simulates working in a Walmart store, including regular activities such as restocking, greeting customers, cleaning up spills or confronting shoplifters. Players earn points and receive feedback. Meanwhile, a corporate game at Farmers Insurance imitates collaboration with vendors and communication with customers. The training curriculum draws on virtual reality settings.

These games serve to determine the messages players hope to communicate about themselves and their solutions to daily challenges. Almost anyone can benefit, whether you’re an executive, a salesperson or any other team member.

How Do We Know When an Employee is Ready For a Leadership Role?

How Do We Know When an Employee is Ready For a Leadership Role?

How do we know when an employee is ready for a leadership role?

It’s good you’re thinking about this. Promotions into leadership too often come with little discussion about how the leadership role will be different from the current role or whether the employee has the interest or skill set to be an effective leader.

Fortunately, there are indicators that someone is likely ready for a leadership role. These include (among other traits) their ability to communicate effectively, inspire and motivate others, resolve conflicts while minimizing drama, adapt to change, and take accountability for the work of their team.

If there’s an employee you’d like to promote, but they haven’t expressed an interest in a leadership role, schedule a meeting with them to talk about the idea. Share why you feel they are ready for the role and what it means to be a leader within your organization. Ask about their career goals and how they would like to advance within the organization. Let the employee know how you can support them with these goals, whether or not they move into a leadership track.

If the employee is interested in leadership, provide them a clear picture of the responsibilities and the training and guidance they’ll receive as they move into the new role. Most employees who are new to leadership will need extra support as they transition into a position of greater responsibility.

This Q&A does not constitute legal advice and does not address state or local law.

Content courtesy of the HR Support Center –

How to Avoid Micromanaging

How to Avoid Micromanaging

According to Leadership Excellence Now, “Micromanagement is a business management style where the boss or manager controls every aspect, no matter how small, of the work done by his or her employees.”

Micromanagement can make employees feel as though their boss does not trust them to do the job they were hired for. Feeling demoralized, these employees may end up leaving the company for a healthier work environment.

Employees want a collaborative workplace culture. Per a 2019 report by Kimble, 74% of surveyed U.S. workers say they prefer collaboration, and only 21% say they prefer the boss to make most of the decisions. Further, 72% of workers say they want to take on more responsibility. They do not want their boss hovering over them or ordering them around. Instead, they want their boss to motivate and inspire them.

Obviously, you need to monitor your employees’ performance. But you must also ensure that you’re not micromanaging in the process.

Tips to Avoid Micromanaging

Learn to delegate responsibilities instead of thinking you have to do everything yourself. Research by Gallup found that companies with CEOs who delegate effectively had greater overall business growth than those with CEOs who are not strong delegators.

Hire the right people, and trust that they can do the job. You hired them because you believed in their capabilities. Unless they prove otherwise, there’s no reason to doubt them.

Clearly communicate your expectations for the job to the employees. Let them know the required outcomes, and give them adequate resources to achieve those results. Make sure they know how to obtain help if they need it along the way. Then provide them with enough freedom to do the job on their own. Resist the urge to incessantly loom over their shoulders, whether physically or electronically.

Establish project milestones, and check in with the employees as those milestones approach.

Ask the employees to show you portions of their work at intervals (such as a few pages out of a whole document) instead of requiring exhaustive updates at every turn.

Offer constructive feedback, and do not get caught up in trivial details. If the work is truly not up to par, let the employees know what they need to do to fix it.

Determine which projects and employees need to be managed more closely than others. For example, high-level projects typically demand more managerial input than low-level tasks do, and employees with less experience may require more oversight.

HR coaching can help some micromanagers

According to a Society for Human Resource Management article, some micromanagers are simply built that way and may be resistant to change. Others, however, can improve through coaching by Human Resources staff.

HR coaching may be ideal for:

  • Managers who don’t realize that they are micromanaging and just want to help their employees succeed.
  • Managers who micromanage because they were mentored by micromanagers or have worked only for micromanagers.
  • Managers who are afraid their employees will fail and consequently micromanage in an effort to achieve the desired results.


Leaders should know the damaging effects of micromanagement and steer clear of this management style.

Is This Your Situation: Considering How to Do Background Checks

Is This Your Situation: Considering How to Do Background Checks

A background check on potential employees sounds like a great investment. And in many cases, it is. But what are you really looking for, and what kind of action can you take based on the results? Many employers want to acquire this information, but few know what to do with it and what their employees’ legal rights are in relation to it. Here are four truths about background checks that you need to know before you make a costly mistake.

  1. You must treat all applicants equally. Before establishing a background checking procedure, you need to understand that your company would be legally liable if candidates felt they were being treated unfairly in the process. To avoid this risk, it is imperative that you design a program that provides the exact same check for all candidates regardless of the position for which they are applying.
  2. An Internet search is not a valid alternative. Google and social media have changed the way we find information and interact with each other online. Many hiring managers have fallen into a habit of reaching for the low-hanging fruit and making a hiring decision based on an Internet or social media search. For instance, a Google search may lead you to an arrest record. However, an arrest and a conviction are two different things, and the candidate may have legal recourse, depending on your actions based on what you’ve found.
  3. You must inform the candidate of the results. When you run a credit check, the information is protected under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and you are required to provide a copy of the report. In the case of a background check, a company cannot perform one without the signed, written consent of the candidate. If a company decides not to hire a candidate based on the background check, it must let him or her know and share the information of the background checking company utilized.
  4. There is no centralized information available. The biggest problem with background checks is inconsistency. There is no national, centralized bank of this kind of information, so the background check companies that advertise “complete” results aren’t exactly correct. Each state has different laws about what is reported and to whom, which can complicate the process and not provide enough data to make a decision.

Do you use background checking as a factor for hiring decisions?

Invest Time in Onboarding!

Invest Time in Onboarding!

There’s nothing like a bad onboarding experience to make a new hire regret accepting a job offer. It’ll take a lot of work to restore the employee’s trust, if you’re lucky enough to keep them.

A good onboarding process provides new employees with everything they need to be successful. They receive whatever tools, equipment, and instruction they’ll need to do their job. They’re given time to read and reflect on company policies. They’re given time to get acclimated to the new environment. They’re introduced to members of their team and given time to connect with people in the company they’ll be working with closely. Remember that the experience should be reciprocal—onboarding is a time for the company to get to know the new hire better, too. In short, they’re given a warm welcome!

As with hiring, always look for ways to improve the onboarding process. Establish a way for newly onboarded employees to provide feedback anonymously.

Discipline For an Employee Working For Another Employer During FMLA

Discipline For an Employee Working For Another Employer During FMLA

Can we discipline an employee for working for another employer during FMLA?

Yes, in two circumstances. First, you can discipline the employee if their other job violates your outside employment (aka moonlighting) policy. Second, you can discipline an employee who obtained FMLA leave fraudulently. If, however, you do not have a policy that specifically prohibits employees from working for other employers or if the employee’s work for the other employer is compatible with their health condition, then the fact that they are employed elsewhere during a leave is not cause for discipline. For instance, if the employee works a physically demanding job at Company A that they can’t perform because of a medical condition, they may still be able to work a desk job for Company B during leave.

The FMLA specifically allows employers to hold an employee on leave accountable to their uniformly applied moonlighting or outside employment policy. On the flip side, employers without such a policy can’t deny FMLA leave, including job protection and benefits continuation, to an employee just because they’re working elsewhere while on leave—unless you’ve got a case of FMLA fraud.

If you don’t have a moonlighting policy (or do but it’s not uniformly enforced), then the only other way to discipline an employee for working for another employer during their FMLA leave would be if their second job indicates that the employee lied to you about their serious health condition. For example, if the employee’s FMLA certification states that they need to be on bed rest to recover from surgery, and the employee is performing physical labor at the other place, you’ve got a case of FMLA fraud. Fire away! In grayer situations, however, proceed with caution. The safest approach would be to require a recertification in light of the new information that casts doubt on the employee’s stated reason for leave or continuing validity of their original certification. Disciplining an employee on FMLA leave without knowing all the facts can easily give rise to an FMLA interference claim.

Content courtesy of the HR Support Center –