How to Develop Soft Skills in Your Employees
Before we get underway and start looking at impactful approaches to developing soft skills in your employees, it’s best that we quickly recap what is considered a ‘soft skill’. The more you know about soft skill development, the sooner you can bring a positive impact to your workforce and start having tangible results.
What is a Soft Skill in 2022?
The definition of a soft skill hasn’t changed too much over the years, but the soft skills that are most important to employers and most useful in the workplace have. In 2022, employers may be looking for certain soft skills that show an individual can work well in their company and has worked on their personal development.
In plain English, soft skills are personality traits, behaviors, and interpersonal skills.
This may appear fairly broad at first, but they represent how well employees work with others, how they fit into a company, and whether they provide long-term value. Whilst soft skills are not usually directly connected to professions, it could be understood that being particularly strong in certain soft skills could make individuals better suited to certain roles. For example, a nurse or care worker would benefit from high levels of empathy, listening, and compassion.
Can You Really Develop Soft Skills in Your Employees?
Some may argue that since soft skills are subjective and our personalities are less malleable than our intelligence, it can be difficult to improve them. The alternative argument suggests that throughout our lives we are constantly learning and developing, changing each day, and if we demonstrate a willingness to work on certain parts of our internal selves, there is nothing to stop us. This is the message you need to get across to your employees.
Ask your teams this question: Could you be more persuasive, creative, understanding, patient, and collaborative? If their answer is yes, they are ready to begin.
Communication: More Than Words
The success of your organization is highly dependent on how organized, cohesive, and collaborative your teams are. All of these things are rooted within communication, but it’s a common misunderstanding to think that communication is simply about delivering words and information. There’s the how, the why, the when, and more. Beyond that, there are other aspects of communication that can actually be developed so that deliverance is not only improved but actually optimized to drive the goals of the business.
Many people overcommunicate information, whereas others under-communicate it. The key is to communicate in a simple way, delivering all of the information necessary but in a balanced way, relating all of the key points without providing too much ‘fluff’.
Employers can practice hosting writing and editing exercises and workshops that invite their employers to cut down or improve their written communications. Working together to develop sales scripts can also be effective for creating simplified and effective sales material. Overcomplicated communication can often be to blame for losing customers and confusing new hires.
Body Language & Tone
For face-to-face interactions between colleagues, it’s important to create policies that encourage friendliness, respect, and positive treatment. With these things in place, it’s much harder to have negative body language, however, not impossible. As an employer, it can be challenging to teach body language. It’s advised to bring in experts for engaging corporate body language training workshops and provide actionable feedback to individuals about how to improve.
In a world where most of our communication is digital, the tone of voice is far more difficult to translate and convey between people. Between friends, it’s easy to know whether to send a voice note, a meme, a photo, or a written message, but in the business world, it’s far more complicated and delicate. Knowing which medium to use, which channel to communicate through, and how formal or informal you need to be are things that the employer needs to define, train, and create policies for.
Creativity: Not What You Think…
But what you create! Whilst many believe that creatives are artists, designers, and writers, the truth is that it’s much simpler to be creative. Creativity can be as simple as taking different approaches to try and solve problems, being open to new ideas instead of shutting them down, and listening to new perspectives. So, how to develop this in your employees?
One of the best ways to encourage creativity, critical thinking, and quick response times is through business simulations, something we have spent years developing here at StratX Simulations. Group simulation activities involve a lot of teamwork and role-playing, helping to further stimulate the creative side of the brain.
Emotional Intelligence: Utilising Your Emotions
Self-reflection and self-awareness are the founding steps toward developing emotional intelligence, so as an employer, it is a delicate thing to ask your employees to be more introspective. Rather than asking them directly to evaluate themselves, you can provide feedback, open dialogues, look at tests such as Myers-Briggs, and see whether there is actionable data available.
If employers are successful in creating awareness about the existence and potential to develop self-awareness and emotional intelligence, there are many rewards to come as a result. Higher EQ individuals are better team players, are able to respectfully motivate those around them towards common goals, and can help realize greater overall team dynamics, especially important when things are going badly or conflicts arise.
Where to Begin?
The first step is to open a dialogue with your employees that there is a wilful intention to work on the development of soft skills and help them understand the ‘why’, exploring the importance and benefits of this process. Once the employees see why this is necessary for the progress of the organization, training can begin.
Next comes the ‘how’, taking into consideration the impactful nature of workshops, mentorships, one-on-one training, and simulation-based learning via corporate training programs. Leveraging these training opportunities to develop soft skills will be key in 2022 and moving forward, helping not only the organization to thrive, but to help their employees have quality transferable skills and insight into self-development.