When we think about workplace skills, we often jump straight to things like technical prowess, qualifications, and achievements. Why is this? It’s not surprising if you think about it. Our society places a lot of emphasis on these kinds of attributes: to succeed, you’ve got to be the best and brightest of the bunch, otherwise you’ll get nowhere.
But what people always seem to overlook – and what employers are increasingly focusing on – are those skills that don’t appear on a CV. How adaptable someone is, how they perform in a team, even how they interact with customers. These are all examples of “soft” skills – that is to say, skills you can’t quantify with a certificate or diploma.
So why are employers looking for these skills, and why now? In our increasingly competitive world, qualifications are becoming more and more common and therefore worth less. It may sound harsh, but think about it: 50 years ago, what percentage of young people held a degree? When you compare that to how many kids go to college now, the difference is clear.
What this means for the workforce is that things like degrees and apprenticeships hold less sway than they once did; when everyone’s got one, it’s no longer special.
This is why employers and job-seekers alike are focusing more on intangible skills, and it’s also why it’s imperative that your workplace becomes an environment in which they’re allowed to flourish. This article will show you how to do that.
Leadership is one of those skills every employer wants in a prospective employee, but nobody seems willing to teach. That’s where your workplace can swoop in and fill the gap. But why is this such an important skill to learn? After all, only a few can actually lead, right? Wrong.
Leadership is not just about who’s in charge. It’s about responsibility, which is something every team member must learn. This is especially relevant in these turbulent times, where leadership is about carrying each other through the most difficult of circumstances.
Here are just a few of the benefits that teaching leadership skills can have for your workplace:
Improved project management
If each employee knows how to handle a project efficiently and effectively, they’ll hold the skills to delegate responsibility as needed and in a timely manner.
Being a leader means listening to the people on your team, a valuable skill in any part of the workplace.
It’s crucial a good leader can adapt to whatever happens throughout a project’s lifespan, something it benefits every member of the team to be able to do.
A leader must trust their team, and the team must trust the leader will do what’s best for them and has their best interests at heart.
All this to say: learning leadership skills is essential for every member of staff, even if they never get to hold a leadership position within the business. It breeds independence and the ability to think for themselves and creates a more cohesive and efficient whole.
While communication in a traditional “hard” skill sense is more about technology than anything else (we know, we’re dying for a Zoom phone alternative too), it means something quite different in the context of soft skills. It’s as much about non-verbal expression as it is about talking to your teammates – something a lot of businesses tend to overlook.
So, what lessons can you teach your staff about soft-skill communication?
Speaking with clarity and confidence
Public speaking is regarded by many as our worst fear, and speaking in the workplace is no exception. By teaching your team members to speak with confidence, however, you ensure they’re unafraid to speak up and present their ideas, which can only be a win for the business.
Taking turns in conversation
You’d be surprised how many people don’t know this basic skill. It can be tempting to go on at length about your ideas at the expense of listening to other people. Process mining can help a lot with these kinds of issues, as it forces everyone to take a step back and look at what needs to be done and how internal communication should be approached.
Mutual respect and empathy
This falls under the same umbrella as turn-taking but encompasses a wider range of communication practices. It’s important to let other people have a chance to contribute, but what’s equally important is making each other feel comfortable in doing so. Workers need to know you’ll respect their opinion, even if it differs from your own. So, be sure to encourage mutual respect and empathy in your employees.
Written communication and constructive feedback
This is one of those skills that tends to fly under the radar, but it’s crucial if your employees want to communicate effectively. For example, say your employee presents a report on the benefits of telepresence vs video conferencing.
Unhelpful feedback would go something like “it’s good”, or “I didn’t like it”, but constructive criticism would read “I liked this part, but have you thought this other part through? How could you research more into this?” See the difference?
There are myriad benefits to teaching your employees about proper communication. Not only will it bolster your workplace culture, but it will also stand your staff in good stead for any future career moves they make. You’re preparing them for life, not just their current job.
There you have it: two vital areas for soft skills training and a handful of ways to polish your workplace through teaching them. When you stop to consider it, these categories encompass almost every soft skill there is.
Problem solving? That’s a communication issue. Figure out how to work with your team and you can solve any problem you want. Coaching and mentoring? Leadership soft skills will pave the way for you to then teach others.
Whether it’s delivering technical solutions or a great customer experience, soft skills are the way to go. They give your business the edge it needs to get ahead – something that’s more important than ever in our increasingly competitive world. Hard skills might teach you how to do a job, but soft skills teach you how to do it right.