Many years ago, while in a management role, I was involved in navigating a difficult situation that came up between two employees. Large chunks of time were taken up in meetings with the employees and upper management. Many hours of productivity were lost because of this issue that was almost overwhelming at the time.
Unfortunately, scenarios like this are not isolated. Ask any business leader if they’ve had to spend time coaching or even disciplining an employee who didn’t have the best of people skills, or who couldn’t manage their time well, and many will say a resounding “yes.”
When preparing this article, I asked people on my Facebook list to simply “like” the post if they’d experienced lack of productivity on a team because of an employees lack of people or productivity skills. Over 35 people liked the post and a few added comments. That’s 35 different companies adversely affected by lack of “soft skills,” and I’m sure that’s a small number compared to reality.
Business soft skills are the character traits, attitudes and self-management strategies that you carry with you throughout your career, no matter what position you have. They are measured more in terms of relational success and productivity than with tangible metrics. Soft skills are not about how many words a minute you type, or how fast you can create an Excel spreadsheet with formulas. It’s about how you get along with others, manage your time, and communicate. Soft skills can have a huge impact on the bottom line because productivity is often very affected by how successful (or not) employees and their bosses are in these areas. Training can be rewarding and sometimes frustrating because these skills are impacted in a big way by a person’s natural personality, emotions, and life experiences.
There are a number of soft skills that are worthwhile to “brush up on” from time to time. These include:
- Leadership, Coaching, Mentoring
- Time Management
- Emotional Intelligence/Personality Styles (the ability to self-govern and also observe and influence working relationships)
- Customer service
- Organizing, planning and productivity
I encourage you to invest in your own soft skills on a regular basis by reading good books and resources, and taking classes, whether through formal training such as what I do as a contract trainer through CCT Business Training, Lunch and Learns, or books and online courses.
(And a word to bosses…more than one student wishes their supervisor would be made to take the same classes they are sent to. Set the example by continuing to learn yourself.)
PS: I’m currently doing a local series of Lunch and Learns for a company of about 25 employees. They hired me to come in every three weeks during the summer to present a topic related to being more organized and more productive. Contact me if you’d like more information on this service, or online options for those outside upstate South Carolina.