A computer engineer must be able to write code. A musician must know how to play an instrument. And an accountant must be able to balance the books. These are all hard skills. They’re tangible things we either know how to do or we don’t. They can be taught, measured, and seen in action. But they’re not always the most crucial aspect of an individual’s professional success. Nor are they responsible for the success of organizations.
It’s the soft skills, the intangible, interpersonal skills, that are harder to teach, and harder still to measure, that set successful people and companies apart.
All dentists know how to fill a cavity, but it’s their soft skills, or the soft skills of their staff, that determine whether or not they have a thriving practice. Every administrative assistant knows how to manage a calendar and book travel arrangements, but it’s the team player with the agreeable disposition and can-do attitude that keeps his or her job during layoffs.
Soft skills matter. A lot.
So what are they exactly?
Soft skills are interpersonal skills, such as the ability to communicate clearly and understand others, or to share ideas, listen, support and help others. Writing, or the ability to convey information clearly through the written word. Critical thinking, the ability to identify problems and create logical, reasonable solutions. Active listening, making an effort to understand others first, before interrupting. As well as others like cognitive flexibility, organization, and time management that help us manage ourselves better and collaborate with others.
These soft skills help us to effectively deploy our technical skills in a way that allows an organization to thrive. They help co-workers interact with one another better. They help leaders lead. And they allow us all to work together more proactively and efficiently.
One of the best ways to ‘train’ your workforce in soft skills is to establish a learning culture and a growth-oriented environment. This allows them the space to grow as individuals and to value that growth to begin with. You can also create training programs specifically designed for improving communication and comprehension skills, regardless of technical skills, or mentorship programs where leaders or experienced employees with strong interpersonal skills can help to shape the skills of others over time.
Whichever way you approach soft skill training in your organization, remember that it’s truly about the intangible skills that help us manage ourselves and relate to one another more effectively. These are the skills that take our technical ability and knowledge and make them powerful and for that reason, they are critical to any organization’s success.
If you’re interested in creating a soft skills training in order to foster customer care, client relationships and the overall positive image of your business, we can help! Contact us today to learn more.