Do You Know Which Soft Skills Your Employees Should Work On?

BY Kathy Crosett
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After your team members get into a disagreement or dis a customer, you have to take action. The problem is, you may not know exactly which action to take. You want results, but you don’t want to demoralize your employees.

Defining Soft Skills

We’re all working in environments that require us to collaborate and communicate clearly. If we’re participating in project-​based work, we must understand which behaviors are acceptable. We should also understand which behaviors will bring out the best results in team members and co-workers.

Early generations of workers focused on mastering machines and output. We still need to interact with machines and optimize our use of technology. As Julie Avrane-​Chopard points out, the best workers also possess soft skills that allow them to excel in specific areas. But they may need to improve some of their other soft skills, and often, managers don’t know where to start. Using assessments found in a comprehensive platform like TeamTrait™ will help managers determine what's needed. 

Improving Soft Skills

Here are a few key areas that frequently need improvement and suggestions about how to proceed.

  • Communication and negotiation — Many disputes can be avoided if employees give themselves some time and space when they feel that they’re ready to explode. After an unfortunate incident occurs, review the circumstances in a one-​on-​one meeting. Ask your employee to think about the long-​term consequences of failing to communicate respectfully. Role-​play with them about the ways they can negotiate a peaceful and workable resolution to a problem situation.
  • Empathy — Experts point out that empathy is declining across the U.S., especially as we live in an increasingly polarized society. Managers shouldn’t accept the trend as status quo. They should demonstrate a caring attitude about other people, especially those in other departments at all times. Behaving as a role model shows your team members that you have expectations about your company’s culture.
  • Adaptability and coachability — Not all team members come into the workplace with the understanding that their job will change regularly. And not all employees will want the kind of coaching they need to develop their soft skills. If you detect that issue with a candidate during the interview and assessment process, you may not want to hire them. When this issue arises with an existing team member, meet more frequently with them to encourage flexibility and openness. Make sure to praise and reward them when you see change.

Developing good soft skills doesn’t happen alone for most employees. Managers who want to improve their work culture shouldn’t leave soft skill development to chance. They should assess their employees and create specific goals to help team members succeed.