"We don't generally let him speak with outside people". This was part of an awkwardly worded apology extended to me by a corporate contact following an infuriating exchange involving one of his colleagues.
When one thinks of the primary skill sets that are valued and sought after in technical employees, emotional intelligence isn't typically at the top of the list. Rather, it's their more quantitative, analytical and critical thinking skills that are most attractive and prized.
With this in mind, corporate external innovation programs often assign technical employees to play external facing roles. While many of them perform quite capably or even expertly, others are called upon to utilize talents that they may not naturally possess and for which they have not had training and or experience as customer service and or sales persons typically do. They may be called upon to act as external relationship managers. In this role, they are not performing the technical work that they might have historically, but rather they are required to encourage, guide and motivate external parties to do it. Success in this role can require patience and diplomacy. In other words, they typically need to expertly apply "soft skills" in order to nurture relationships and to make consistent progress.
Experience gaps, when they occur, can be frustrating for all concerned, but they are often not truly the employee's fault. They may simply reflect that an employee isn't naturally skilled in particular facets of interpersonal communication. After all, external innovation remains a relatively new corporate initiative within many companies and many employees may not be trained to perform in external facing roles. Therefore, companies either need to be more selective about assigning people with appropriate skills and temperment for these positions or they need to provide appropriate employee training in order to help ensure that they are able to perform capably and comfortably in their new roles.
Would potential external partners consider your company's relationship managers adept at navigating their interactions? Do they feel that they are consistently treated respectfully? Would they say that they are kept informed in a timely manner? Or...would they say that they feel they are generally neglected and taken for granted?
BFS Innovations has effectively trained externally facing employees at some of the world's largest and best known companies to help them enhance their EQ's and to help ensure better relationship management outcomes. We've also conducted some "mystery shop" evaluations involving external relationship managers to help companies to take a closer look at their organization's competencies and possible performance need gaps.
Most companies want to put their best face forward in managing their external relationships. BFS can help your company's external facing representatives to consistently do so.
"Connecting You With The Right Solutions" BFS Innovations, Inc.