A New Kind of Training – Introduction

blake-ross-croppedBy Blake Anthony Ross, Lead Front-End Developer

If you could only choose one or the other, would you rather: 1) have extremely high expertise in some of the technical skills related to your job; or 2) be exceptionally good at relating to and working with coworkers? The two diagrams below help frame the question a little better. Which scenario would you prefer?

It’s very likely that all of us instantly grasp the value of the first option. Everyone is probably crystal clear that if we could do/produce better in our current job, we would be a greater asset to the company. If we could boost our professional expertise, we would have greater job security, we would probably be paid more, have a greater breadth of career options available to us (high-paying, part-time, work-from-anywhere freelancing, anyone?), and we might even enjoy what we do more. As one of my professors said, “The better you are at something, the more you can enjoy it.”

We’re probably all over the map regarding the second option, though. You may already value that second scenario greatly, and you might feel the tension between it and the first scenario, if forced to choose. Others may think it a “no-brainer” to prefer the first scenario, perhaps to the extent that the notion of having “expertise” in relating to and working with coworkers is a completely new thought.

Is “relating to others” really a skill, like welding, creating complex Excel macros, print design, copywriting or making gravy from scratch? Yes, it is. And if we had greater expertise and skill in relating to and working with others, we would be a greater asset to the company. Thinking more broadly than our current place of employment, let’s consider our general careers for a moment. If we could boost our expertise and skill in relating to and working with others, we would have greater job security, we would probably be paid more, have a greater breadth of career options available to us, and we might even enjoy what we do more.

Sound familiar? The profound point is this: Tremendous career gains are to be had in cultivating our professional expertise and tremendous career gains are to be had in cultivating our skills in relating well to others.

How do we grow in this relational expertise? This blog series called A New Kind of Training intends to offer new challenges, insights and training regarding how skilled we are at being a coworker. And it intends to cultivate vision for how immensely valuable it is to be able to relate to and work alongside others skillfully.

The next post in this series hopes to convince anyone who needs convincing and reinforce for those who already are convinced that how we interact with others is a skill just like any other skill, in the sense that it can be practiced, deliberately cultivated, honed, and done extremely well or extremely poorly.

Once that vision is in place, we will focus on the fact that these skills have everything to do with our value as employees, our ability to enjoy our job and create an enjoyable job environment for others, and affect our personal relationships outside of work. Skills for relating to and working with others are holistically awesome, meaning that they touch all of life—not just work life. If we can cultivate these skills, we not only become more valuable in the workplace, but our marriages, families and friendships may start to flourish right under our noses.

So, let’s do this. Welcome to A New Kind of Training.

Read the next article in A New Kind of Training: A New Kind of Training – The Nature of a Skill