Soft skills are as important as hard skills as reported by ninety-seven percent of employers surveyed. This is because they’ve realized just how much soft skills contribute to productivity and the overall culture of their business. However, not all organizations are willing to provide training to develop these skills. Most just think that money needs to be spent on developing hard skills. I won’t argue that they’re necessary. But unless you work in a vacuum with no need to ever interact with another human in any capacity, soft skills are crucial to your success at work. 

Take this last year, in particular. We’ve all had to adapt (soft skill) in order to keep our heads above water. Most of us had to get creative (soft skill) in order to turn our homes into a combination office/school/gym/restaurant. And then we had to figure out how to collaborate (soft skill) with our teammates via a virtual meeting room. None of this was fun, but because it was necessary to do these things, we’ve built some resilience along the way (soft skill). See what I mean, about the importance of the so-called soft skills? 

Today’s employers expect to provide some if not all the training for the hard skills necessary for a particular role. But the idea of having to also train employees in the soft skills is a fairly new revelation. This is something that’s occurred over the last 2 decades. So what are the soft skills most lacking in the current workforce? According to recent statistics, they are communication, collaboration and leadership. 

Communication Is A Soft Skill

Effective communication is the key to any relationship at work. I mean, we live in a world where we might be working with people across the room or across the globe. We’re doing this mostly by telephone and email, without hearing tone of voice or seeing body language. And this leads to A LOT of miscommunication. However, even if we are able to speak with someone in person, we aren’t always able to communicate effectively. Why? Because our personality styles often get in the way. Each of the four major personality styles have different priorities, motivators, stressors and emotional needs which we communicate differently. 

Take the Conscientious style who tends to be analytical, methodical and private. Now imagine that he/she has to work closely with an Influencer style. The Influencer never knew a stranger, throws out new ideas every few minutes just to see if they’ll stick, and flies by the seat of his/her pants. These two different personality styles don’t understand why they each individually show up the way they do. And this leads to miscommunication. There are just no two ways around it. 

Collaboration Is A Soft Skill

Communication by itself is important, but the reality is it’s also a necessary component of collaboration. Today’s workplaces share people and data across many channels and groups. Individuals, teams and departments may operate independent of each other, but they’re often dependent upon one another. And again this is where personality differences can create problems. 

For example, let’s say you have a Dominant personality type who wants to win at any cost, and doesn’t have time for niceties. And this person needs a report ASAP. In the Dominant’s mind, this is top priority. The problem is that he’s demanding it from a Steady personality style who is often slow to respond because he/she really needs to think through things and has difficulty speaking his/her mind when challenged. You think this might cause some anger, frustration and hurt feelings? Absolutely!

Leadership Is A Soft Skill

The third soft skill that is lacking in many organizations today is leadership. People often get promoted to management positions because they were great in their previous role. But that doesn’t mean they know how to work well with other people. And this discrepancy becomes glaringly clear in a short amount of time, with the result being disgruntled employees. It’s extremely important for managers to understand their leadership shortcomings and to work to rectify them. This is why leaders should never stop learning. But also because being elevated to a leadership role inherently implies that you know how to lead! 

Of course, it’s not just managers who should be expected to lead well. Everyone, no matter where they fall on the org chart, has a responsibility to lead within their own role. All employees should understand how they show up at work, take responsibility for their actions and learn to work well with others. If everyone chose to do these things, work would feel a lot less like work.

Soft Skills Are Needed For Success

Like I stated in the beginning, most employers recognize the importance of soft skills in the workplace. The problem is there aren’t enough employers helping their employees develop these skills. This is a problem since the soft skills dilemma continues to worsen, and higher ed hasn’t stepped in to fill the gap. This means organizations have to step up if they want their employees to have the necessary skills to help them stay engaged, create positive company culture and increase production. Specifically, they need to focus on helping employees improve their communication, collaboration, and leadership abilities.

If your organization is ready to take on this challenge, get in touch with us today.

The Culture (R)evolution starts with you!

This was originally posted Oct. 18, 2018

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