When compared with hard skills, soft skills are those less tangible, harder to instil skills that every organisation needs but not every organisation masters. Soft skills, or a lack thereof, will quietly decipher your organisations culture and decide who stays and who goes.
Some people will be naturally equipped with soft skills while others will have more room for development. Some, will be so naturally well equipped with soft skills, that these skills can help them to move up through organisations seamlessly even when they probably shouldn’t be moving in that direction at all!
Soft skills are awareness of emotions, in yourself, in others, how emotions can impact us and how to correctly manage your emotions, at the right time and in the right place. They are the skills which make some people the life and soul of a social event and communicate effectively with every level of an organisation.
Soft skills live in our preferred behavioural and emotional styles and some personalities are more naturally attuned to operate well with people.
You can’t exactly teach someone to be more empathetic. If a leader naturally lacks empathy they might always struggle to understand why you need to take the teams feeling’s into consideration when delivering news about ‘streamlining’ or anything else that might leave them having to reconsider how they pay their bills. But what you can do is provide them with the support tov understand what empathy is and why it is important. What impact it would have on others, their own relationships & if most impact fully when working with an individual who may struggle in this area – the negative impact a lack of empathy shown can have on the business!
You do this by beginning in an awareness stage. Equipping the leader with the tools to build awareness – self-awareness first and then awareness of the impact to the teams feeling’s. Using a personality assessment or a 360 tool can provide the individual with direct access to tangible information while removing the complication of the information being delivered through ‘opinion’ or any other means where this ‘idea’ could be related to a person. Essentially you can insulate yourself or others by sticking to the data. It is also easier for an individual (in this case the leader) to digest and understand information that is designed to be read and understood by them. Going a step further by using an external coach or consultant to support the individual in this stage means you can create a safe and even confidential space for the individual to establish this awareness.
Once awareness is established you then need to create a motivation for the individual to care. As you have now come to understand more about your colleagues personality you will be equipped with more information about their strengths and what motivates them. Let’s say for arguments sake they are naturally more process driven and the business impact of this streamlining project is what is most important to them well this is what you will utilise.
If a leader understands that their lack of empathy will impact the team in a negative manner and intern have a negative impact on the business outcome they desire you may find that their new found abilities to behave differently are exhibited a lot more.
You can then consider having said leader manage the practicalities of the process but not be the individual to deliver the news to the team. Lessening the probability that someone could get hurt but knowing that if faced with your leader they are now more capable to manage a process while also considering the impact on the individuals involved.
Throughout this process you have also honed your own soft skills. Managing the many moving variables and supporting different colleagues involves a whole host of the skills you are supporting others to instil.
In the same way that an individual’s lack of soft skills can inhibit them in a role in your company to the point where they begin to look elsewhere, so too can another’s lack of soft skills lead to retention issues in your company as people leave bad managers and cultures.
If you’d like to learn more about equipping your employees with direct access to the tools required to hone their own soft skills you can book a demo of the Attain platform here;