This is the tenth article in a series about powering your small business through 12 areas of internal management.

Way back in the 60s, the term soft skills became widely used in organizations. These are the skills that are less measurable than acquired or technical knowledge. While not as easily measured, soft skills are no less important. And if you struggle with them, it will be obvious.

So what are soft skills? People with strong soft skills are naturally adept at connecting with others and building relationships. We’re talking about the ability to network, collaborate within a team, critical thinking, negotiating, leading, and dedication. Interpersonal skills like these contribute to your business’s culture and directly affect your bottom line.

Let me explain. Let’s say your soft skills have gotten a little… soft. As business pressures mount, you may turn to things you can control to try to give your business a boost. Maybe you ask your employees to raise their weekly productivity or you shorten deadlines. These measurable changes may be needed, but if they are not implemented within the context of strong interpersonal relationships, your employees may see these measures as unreasonable or callous. Their frustrations will spill over to their performance, infect their attitudes, and affect their warmth to your customers.

Running a successful business cannot be separated from building great relationships. That’s why relationship management is one of the 12 areas of internal management that you must give time and attention to.

It’s possible that you are like many small business owners I work with who struggle to tend to their soft skills because they have so many other tasks to complete each day. While some people truly are born with soft skills, these aren’t only for the lucky few! Anyone can develop them. I’ve found that my ultra-organized way of thinking actually helps me keep the interpersonal connections strong on my team. That’s because I see the value of tending to relationships and I use my strengths to build up my weaknesses.

Here are a few things I’ve done over the years to make my relationships stronger, both in-house and out:

  • Staff & Team: I’ve done things like scheduled appreciation days each quarter, established a routine of sending cards, and prioritized social connecting with our weekly schedule.
  • Outside Vendors & Clients: I’ve done things like thank-you cards, monthly catch-up calls, and year-end gifts.

Another way I exercise my soft skills is by drawing my team into my decision making and problem solving. Working together builds camaraderie and produces stronger solutions. All of this contributes positively to the bottom line.

Just as with the other areas of internal management, I recommend looking at your relationships at least once a year. Think through each one and see if the connection is strong or weak. Maybe the relationship needs some work; or maybe that relationship needs to change in some way. Just remember that your relationships are not isolated. Each one intersects with the other. So when one bond is weak or unhealthy, it has an effect on everything else in your business—including your financial stability.

Are you ready to bring this area of internal management into line with your financial management goals? Officeheads is ready to help! We give entrepreneurs and creatives the financial tools, processes, and team needed to move their business ahead of the competition and onto solid financial footing. Reach out today to learn how we can get started.