Soft skills rarely get the attention they deserve, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not valuable in the workplace. More and more, organizations are recognizing how soft skills in the workplace differentiate great employees (and businesses) from good ones. Author Peggy Klaus summed it up well when she said: “soft skills get little respect but they will make or break your career.”
LinkedIn recently published a list of the most in-demand soft skills, with leadership, communication, collaboration, and time management on the podium. Many people still think of these skills as innate qualities – you know, you’re either born with them, or you’re not. Fortunately, all of the most in-demand soft skills can be trained and developed.
Seven Skills To Teach In Your Soft Skills Training For Employees
In many ways, soft skills are actually the hardest skills to develop (see what we did there?).
Successful soft skills training for employees requires dedication from both employees and the organization. Employees must be eager to develop themselves, and the organization must be ready to provide opportunities and a supportive environment for them to do so.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the specific skills you need to train your employees in, ASAP.
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Ultimately, every organization lives or dies by the quality of its leadership. Take the old adage “employees don’t leave a bad company, they leave a bad manager”. Employee turnover is just one of the many costly risks of ignoring the role of leadership in the organization.
But what is leadership? Great leaders drive the vision and values of the company while keeping day-to-day activities in check at the same time. That’s because great leaders are more than managers. They’re inspirational, encouraging, and empathetic.
So, how do you use soft skills training for employees to cultivate leadership in your organization? Start by providing opportunities for leaders-in-the-making to step up. Unlock hidden potential by encouraging employees to enact change in their departments, provide training to their peers, and volunteer for leadership training.
2. Time management
There are only so many minutes in the workday, and each one of them costs the organization money. So, it’s no surprise that time management is considered one of the most essential courses to include in your soft skills training for employees.
Employees should be given sufficient information to decide which tasks are most urgent, versus which are most important. Urgent tasks obviously need to get done quickly, but important tasks present the greater impact on the organization. To identify these tasks, employees need a thorough understanding of the business’s short and long-term goals.
When employees prioritize well, they’re less likely to be overwhelmed by pressure and deadlines. This is a great start to achieving a better work-life balance. Employees that can balance their physical and social needs with work will miss fewer deadlines due to illness or burnout.
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Look closely at any successful organization and you’ll notice one thing: it functions as a team. There’s no space for meaningless competition, jealousy, or underhandedness in a team. No, for a team to win, all teammates need to feel safe and bonded.
But creating this ideal team environment is not easy. That’s why you need your employees to be skilled team-players.
Teamwork is one of the hottest soft skills training topics for employees, but what does this it look like in action? The knack for teamwork is really a combination of other skills. A team-player is perceptive, intuitive, and sensitive to their teammates’ needs. They’re also able to negotiate with their peers, while genuinely valuing their ideas.
Business and training visionary Dale Carnegie said that “90% of all management problems are caused by miscommunication”, and rapper Lauryn Hill sang in her song ‘Lost Ones’ that “miscommunication leads to complication.” Clearly, the problems of poor communication go far beyond social and industry barriers!
Poor communicators tend to believe that talking is more important than listening. But skilled communicators pay careful attention to all points of view, and listen closely to find the problem at the core of an issue. When they do talk, they adjust their tone and style to the audience. Their colleagues feel understood and respected, no matter the situation.
Problems aren’t always what they seem. That’s why the ability to unpick a situation and find the underlying issue is key to problem-solving. And so is a calm, measured demeanor in the face of challenges.
A skilled problem-solver knows that every problem has a solution, even if it’s outside of the proverbial box. They’re also a calming influence on their team.
While individuals may have a built-in knack for creativity and analytical ability, these traits can also be fostered in the workplace through employee training. Opportunities to share new ideas, a playful work environment, and leadership that values learning from mistakes are all conducive to developing problem-solving skills.
Taking ownership of one’s responsibilities and mistakes is tough. No one likes to face blame. Even worse, blame often comes with serious consequences in the workplace. Yet, it’s almost impossible to learn from mistakes without taking responsibility for them.
One of the most important goals of soft skills training for employees is teaching your staff to take ownership of their decisions (even when they’re bad ones) because it prevents problems from festering in the dark. When employees are transparent about mistakes, they can be fixed faster and more effectively.
7. Critical thinking
Do you want employees who just do what they’re told? Or do you want employees who are able to interrogate instructions and processes? If your organization is forward-thinking, it’s the latter.
Employees who can evaluate the information available and make decisions critically can save significant costs and effort. Without critical thinking skills, employees can’t improve processes, innovate in their field, or spot pain points in their team.
You might be wondering how to coach employees on soft skills. In the case of critical thinking, the answer is simple but ambitious. Make transparency, interrogation, and open feedback core values in the organization. These values create an environment where employees are unafraid to question leadership and suggest improvements.
Soft Skills Training For Employees Is Not Optional
It’s time to recognize that soft skills are just as valuable as hard skills. Because without the right soft skills, organizations suffer from issues like poor leadership, weak problem-solving and miscommunication. The final result? Organizations that are held back from reaching their full potential.
The only way to compete today is by giving soft skills the respect they deserve. How? Coach employees on soft skills through ongoing training programs and development initiatives. And if you don’t know where to start, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with the necessary steps on developing soft skills in the workplace.
Over to you. We’d love to know what you think about soft skills and soft skills training for employees.
Specifically, do you have a soft skills program in your organization?
If not, what would you need to convince the higher-ups that soft skills are just as important as hard skills?