Being gifted at performing the technical aspects of a job can take an employee only so far. To become a stellar employee or an admired leader requires an arsenal of skills that are harder to measure but critical to success.
Collaboration, critical thinking, perseverance, and communication are examples of "soft skills," which are behaviours, personality characteristics, and work habits that help individuals succeed at work. Consider the following scenario: A great graphic designer may amaze people with her work, but if she consistently misses deadlines or fails to listen to feedback, her career may stall, resulting in costly project delays or disgruntled clients.
A lack of soft skills like as reliability, time management, and critical thinking may derail an individual with strong technical abilities in a variety of ways. According to LinkedIn's 2019 Global Talent Trends study, 89 percent of recruiters think it's typically due to a lack of soft skills when a hiring doesn't work out.
Soft Skills Sorting
Soft talents have the advantage of being highly transferrable. Any profession may benefit from creativity, accountability, and great communication skills. However, how can HR professionals identify which soft skills need to be strengthened or which are most important in their workplaces?
Doing a skills or training needs assessment may be a fantastic method to find out, and the HR team may already have most of the information it needs. Request that managers examine their team members' previous performance assessments to uncover soft-skill weaknesses as well as strengths, such as how they reply to e-mail or their attitude.
Men, for example, could be more accepting of an aggressive communication style. You must be attentive to various gender viewpoints but yet not holding individuals to dramatically disparate standards.
Look no farther than your most successful workers to learn which soft talents are most in demand in your company. Examine whether they have any characteristics that enable them to succeed in your job. To guarantee buy-in, HR experts ask bosses what their top four or five most-wanted employee soft skills are. Reread some of your company's material if you're unsure.
Examine your company's value statements and consider the culture of your organisation. These are the priorities of your business.
Is It Possible to Teach Them?
It is possible to teach someone a technical skill, such as how to drive with a stick shift. The procedure isn't pretty—imagine a lot of abrupt braking and clutching—but it's rather straightforward.
Teaching someone to be more patient, a better team player, or more inventive, on the other hand, may not follow a set formula, but it is still possible. While it's true that some people are born with personality qualities that make it easier for them to demonstrate certain soft skills, these abilities may also be developed through time.
Because of a lack of experience or a past circumstance, an employee may be lacking in a certain soft skill. White gives the example of one of her employees who couldn't seem to solve difficulties on her own. It wasn't, however, because the employee lacked decision-making skills. It was because she had previously worked for a micromanaging boss who never let her propose alternatives. When a problem developed, White urged the employee to come up with a solution or two before bringing it to her notice.
In situations like these, it's critical for businesses to create an environment in which it's OK for people to make errors and be vulnerable. Consider a company where executives respond to inquiries, concerns, and errors with empathy and understanding. Consider an aggressive, blame-centered workplace, where people are scared to make errors and are too ashamed to ask questions. Employees at one of those businesses will, as you might expect, stay far longer than those at the other.
Soft skills, like technical abilities, can deteriorate if they are not utilised. That is why it is critical to practise them on a regular basis. In most situations, a one-and-done strategy, such as a single webinar or panel discussion, will not be effective in developing soft skills. Nobody improves their technical abilities in this manner, either.
Instead, the most effective soft-skills training techniques are flexible, shorter, and more frequent. It's also a good idea for businesses to provide a diverse range of learning opportunities. Some people learn better through textual instruction, while others learn better through hands-on experience. Whenever feasible, we collaborate with the employee to determine the best strategy for them.
While most individuals want to learn, gaps in a training program's design and purpose, as well as between a training delivery method and an employee's learning style, frequently obstruct achievement.
It is advised that you use a combination of large-group training, mentorship programmes, and self-guided programming like short, on-demand films or podcasts.
It's crucial to demonstrate to employees why this training is necessary. This might imply making a direct link between increasing soft skills and earning more money or getting a promotion.
If the firm lacks the financial means to launch a soft-skills training or development programme, it should explore collaborating with a university or NGO that focuses on social emotional learning, emotional intelligence, or conscious inclusiveness.
However, there are several less expensive and time-consuming approaches to enhance soft skills in the workplace.
Some approaches are as basic as asking staff to use the Pomodoro Technique for a week to improve their time management skills. This approach suggests focusing on a single activity or project, setting a timer for 25 to 30 minutes, and concentrating on it entirely. You take a two- or three-minute break once the time is over, then return to work for another 25 minutes.
In-house talent can also be used for informal training events such as lunch-and-learns. A session can focus on time management or active listening skills instead of a technical ability. Allow workers to communicate about what's doing well and, more crucially, what's not going well with their job throughout the day.
Walk through everyone's attitude to different events, such as high-stress or time-sensitive situations, if you want to focus on strengthening communication and bonding within a small team.
There are formats and technology to fit every budget and desired goal for more involved soft skills training. However, those that force employees to reflect and interact function best in general.