Soft skills are so important in our century, after realizing that performance in a company is not only related to what is measurable but it is also strongly related to what we cannot measure, that is to say: our soft skills.
Soft skills are all those skills which help you get the job done, such as listening, being patient, solving problems, being a critical thinker, being empathic, having a connected body language and the most important one, being a good communicator.
Soft skills are today highly researched by companies and their hiring managers. In some cases, they are even taking a bigger place than any other skills.
Because our society is very much known for endorsing rapid and unexpected change, most people need to cope or operate change.
Change requires extensive need for the type of soft skills list above. Also knowledge and technicality of a work are coachable or teachable. Companies have their own training and spend extensive time to train employees. In sept 2019, IBM stated in the report called “the enterprise guide to closing the skills gap” that “More than 120 million workers in the world’s 12 largest economies may need to be retrained/reskilled in the next 3 years as a result of intelligent/AI-enabled automation”.
Knowing it, what the employee can do is not the most important but how the employee can cope, understand, and apply the change in the work that needs to be done is what matters. Soft skills level varies to everyone, some might be extensively good at it, but some might lack a great part of it. During a job Interview the primary objective is mostly to discover via the questions/answers time if the candidate has a great soft skills list. All other skills are measured based on the information distributed via your CV or later in the job itself.
Hiring Managers try to understand throughout the way you answer to their question, if you:
Dare to ask additional details if the question is unclear.
Show emotional connection when the hiring manager comments on an answer.
Cut in the middle when someone else is talking.
Respond to the question genuinely.
Stick to the topic’s question.If you pay attention to the length of your answer.
Keep your audience interested.If your body language is going along with the conversation.
If you are outperforming in those aspects, meaning you probably have very strong soft skills, the chance you are invited for a second interview is very high.
A big part of the soft skills is being a good communicator. Have you already heard someone being described as an introvert or extrovert? As a fact extroverts are recognized as better communicators.
Because they can easily transfer emotion to others and they have the tendency to speak frequently. However, it is not because you are introvert that you are a bad communicator, one does not go with the other.
Being a good communicator is having the ability to transfer the right information and emotion to another person at the right time and via the right channel. You send the right information but perhaps not at the right time or sending it at the right time but not with the right information.
You can be good at the “how” but not so good at the “when” and that is why we have different levels of communication skills between individuals.
The reason why communication is the foundation of successful career growth is because communication is what bridges interaction between human beings. In an organization, communication has different streams.
As an example, if you are working on the front line:
How do you communicate with your customer ?
Did you know that if a product is faulty, the customer will only be frustrated from the moment he or she feels a lack of communication (long response time, feeling the person from the company does not really care, or need to repeat the same information several times).
Another example of a communication stream would be, how do you communicate with your manager? Do you tell when you need help? Do you set up meetings or send an email when your manager should be aware of the information? when there is something on your mind that does concern your manager, what do you do? Are you able to demonstrate what you are achieving in an appropriate way? When you have a problem, are you able to explain it directly and clearly?
If you are a people or project manager, your communication skills should be an absolute priority. You have an important responsibility to stream up and down the information. You are the one managing the flow of information coming from your manager to your team and the one managing the flow of information from your team to your upper management. Lack of communication, most of the time is at the heart of employee or manager frustration. Frustration is an important root cause of employee lack of motivation, employee leaving or failure in a project.
As you step up in the hierarchy, the negative impact on missing out communication becomes bigger and bigger. At every step of your career you need to understand to whom you need to communicate, how you need to communicate and when you need to communicate. Now imagine you are someone not facing customers and not managing people or projects. You would think that in this case, communication becomes less important. But the importance of communication is not only related to where you sit in the organization, communication is also what enables you to build relationships with any person around and create trust.
Trust is what will make other people support you, for additional resources or for a promotion as an example. You need to be able to communicate, set up relationships and build trust so your colleagues at work like to work with you and the ones not yet working with you would love to. Reaching the first or second level in an organization will mostly depend on half of your performance and half how your soft skills are contributing to your work. The more you climb the scale and break through the ceiling, the more we will ask you to be outperforming in listening, in solving problems, being a critical thinker, and most importantly being a great communicator.
If your inspiration for the future is to grow vertically in your organization, you will need to be aware of what you are good at and what you are not good at.
The sooner you start working on it the faster you will be able to build your network, build trust and help others see you as a person ready to move up.
There are different combinations of tools and media you can use to 1) be aware of your soft skills list and 2) learn how to improve it.
You can get yourself a mentor to identify what exactly you need to work on and perform some role play for improvement. In some companies, this is promoted but if not, you can ask someone higher in the hierarchy to be your mentor and set goals with him or her. It does not need to be every week, you can agree to have a monthly meeting where you can talk about your soft skills. This person will share with you his or her experience and help improve yours.
Having a mentor is often very beneficial if continued in the long run. If you want to know more about it, I recommend the article What is the Purpose of Mentoring?
You can also use YouTube, there are well designed videos which help you identify what your soft skills are and how improve them, here are few recommendations:
If it is available in your company, ask your manager to do a 360 degrees feedback. If it is not available, you can also design a few questions to send out to your colleagues so you can get their feedback. If you want to know more about it, you can read this article: What is 360 review in the workplace
One other action you can take is to sign up for an online training, in that case I would recommend the paid one. By experience, they are more complete and well organized to keep yourself interested. You can check the UDEMY online platform for soft skills training.
We all have a soft skills list, but we may not be good at all of them. Each is important for your career development but remember that communication is the primary to master. People need you to communicate so they can also do their work. In this matter, communication is not about you but about others, the responsibility of communicating what matters for the person you work for or work with.
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