Do People Really Matter?

I had an advisory conversation with a young graduate student, Vanessa (not her real name), about her career aspirations. She’s an intelligent person who knows what she wants, and frankly, has little interest in the opinion of others as she establishes and achieves her professional goals.

Her behavioral style is direct to the point of bluntness, factual with little feeling, and ambitious with inconsequential concern for others. Vanessa could benefit from enhancing her emotional intelligence, especially given the brusqueness of her communication style.

Vanessa feels that none of this is important. If she gets a job where her drive for results is rewarded, how she goes about it doesn’t matter. She views revealing her personality on the job as a liability to avoid. Just the facts, ma’am.

Wow. She’s in for some surprises when she enters the real world. While she may be correct in the short run (intelligence + goal orientation = success), in the long term she’ll be at a significant disadvantage. One way or another, Vanessa will need to engage with others to achieve organizational goals.

Do you have employees who resemble Vanessa? If you do, I know how easy it would be to just let them do their own thing, achieve their results, and not to worry about how well they play in the sandbox.

If you take that tact, you’ll do them and you a disservice. They won’t be successful in any environment if they have a disregard for others, and they won’t be able to grow successfully in your company.

But if they’re smart and have the potential to be top performers, it’s worth some investment of your time.

Observe how they interact in team situations, and comment on how they can improve. They will appreciate your directness, even if they don’t agree with you. Continue to give them additional feedback as you observe their interpersonal engagement.

Although this may take more work than managing an average performer with pleasant interpersonal skills, your efforts can pay off over time. Who knows? One day they might even believe that people matter.

Have a great week!

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