The Seesaw of Social and Analytical Skills -- 5 Ways to Build Both

Having strong social and analytical skills is crucial for both leaders and their employees. They promote problem-solving ability and the ability to work together as a group.

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By Andre Lavoie

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A lack of social or analytical skills can negatively impact the atmosphere of a workplace and cause problems with both productivity and office cohesiveness. Furthermore, a July 2014 study by researchers at the University of California-Santa Barbara found there is a huge market demand for individuals who have both social and analytical skills.

Related: 5 Skills Every Successful Entrepreneur Must Master

So, what are social and analytical skills?

Social skills are exactly what they sound like: how much or little an individual relates to those around them, as well as society as a whole. Analytical skills are more problem focused, specifically how well a person can solve them and complete tasks. Both are learned at a young age and develop over time.

Having strong social and analytical skills is crucial for both leaders and their employees. They promote problem-solving ability and the ability to work together as a group.

Our brains are built so both the social and analytical networks function like a seesaw -- as one is used less, the other is used more. For example, someone who is very analytical and good at solving complex problems may be lacking in people skills, or vice versa.

Luckily, there are ways to build and strengthen both skills:

1. Rate each employee on their social and analytical tendencies and group people together accordingly.

This doesn't necessarily mean put like with like. Think about it: a group of all analytical people will be great at problem solving but won't develop any further social skills. Instead, group people in mixed groups so they have the ability to learn from each other.

Consider having a team-building day with group activities so employees can build their skills in a fun, non-stressful way.

2. Give greater weight to social skills in hiring and evaluations.

It's easy to be swayed by an alluring resume or a candidate with lots of technical skills. However, how well does this person relate to people?

During the hiring process, give greater weight to social skills and try to find a candidate who has a solid combination of both social and analytical skills. After they are hired, work on developing their existing skills further.

Related: Get Angry! Be Passionate! Your Emotions Are Vital to Success.

This applies to any candidate, from entry to high level.

3. Evaluate and reward based on both social and analytical successes.

Evaluations are one of the best ways to assess performance, but in the past have been used mainly for analytical purposes. Updating evaluations to include social as well as analytical success can help motivate all members of a company to hone both skills.

Using rewards can help provide further motivation. This could be anything from a company dinner to a small bonus.

4. Find ways to develop social thinking and capabilities over time.

Your brain and the skills and abilities it has are like any other muscle: it takes time to make it stronger. Developing social skills is not an overnight process. Find ways to develop social thinking and capabilities and stay committed. Over time, results will show, both personally and throughout the company.

5. Learn from each other.

Don't let the barriers of title impede the progress of growth. Co-workers are one of the best resources for learning. Not only can employees learn from leaders, but also leaders can learn from employees. Follow the example of the individual with the strongest social skills. Figure out what makes them so strong and imitate it.

Social and analytical skills are two sides of the same coin, and both are crucial for success for company leaders and their employees. Like any other skill, these can be developed over time with some dedication.

The old saying practice makes perfect fits in well here -- the more an individual uses and develops their social and analytical skills, the stronger they become.

Do you know of other ways to develop social and analytical skills? Let us know in the comments section below.

Related: 3 Leadership Traits That Transcend Skills and Experience

Andre Lavoie

Entrepreneur; CEO and Co-Founder, ClearCompany

Andre Lavoie is the CEO of ClearCompany, the talent-management solution that helps companies identify, hire and retain more A players. You can connect with him and the ClearCompany team on Facebook LinkedIn and Twitter.


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