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The Importance of “Soft Skills” for Organizations

“Could your team benefit from some soft skills training?” Read why your answer should always be yes!

I was on a call this week with a group of people regarded as leaders in their organization. During the call one leader said this exact sentence to another, “Could your team benefit from some soft skills training?” Fortunately, the other leader said yes they definitely could, but there is a lot to unpack in that one sentence.

Most companies group their corporate skills needs into two types: the technical or “hard-skills” in a job, and the people and managerial “soft-skills” in a job. Hard and soft have these gendered dynamics and power structure built into them when you think about them in your mind. Who would want to describe themselves as excelling at something society deems as soft?

The past decade has seen an abundance of articles and research start to shift the thinking to rephrase these “soft skills” as the power, or human skills at work because so much of what we do at work that leads to success for organizations is based on interpersonal communication, problem solving, and adaptability. In an environment, where more and more folks showing up to work in your organization have similar technical skills for a role, or can be trained to use your specific system, these human skills are what differentiates out the folks who typically grow within an organization.

Going back to the question above that started all this I wanted to point out some recent data which I think highlights that everyone could benefit from continuous focus and training on human skills. Since there is limited space, I will just highlight some data on feedback. Being able to give and deliver feedback can be one of the keys to growing and retaining your folks within an organization and is one of the skills most important for a manager in an organization.

According to some recent Forbes survey data, 68% of employees who receive accurate and consistent feel fulfilled in their jobs and this increases to 72% for folks in the millennial cohort. Great, right? However, only 28% of folks reported receiving meaningful feedback at least once a week, another 28% received feedback a few times a year, and 19% receive meaningful feedback once a year or less. So this doesn’t turn into a percent paragraph and feel overwhelming. One last statistic, 60% of people reported wanting feedback on a daily or weekly basis and for workers under 30 this increases to 72%.

Giving and delivering feedback is not a skill we are innately born with and having difficult conversations around performance are not soft. This work to improve our interpersonal communication and be vulnerable with our feedback is a skill we will have to continuously work on throughout our career as each successive generation, and colleagues who enter the workforce will have varying needs.

“Could your team benefit from some soft skills training?” The answer is always yes. If you are interested in exploring manager or leadership training to develop skills for either someone on your team or for yourself, I will be offering free consultations as part of my Leadership training program launch. The Leadership Training consists of eight modules. Some of the topics include: Recruiting, Performance Management, Giving and Receiving Feedback, and Progressive Corrective Action. Group and individual training sessions are also available.