The toughest skills to recruit for are soft skills. We all know that technical skills and abilities are an asset for companies, but what about being able to listen well, manage time, or solve problems in the workplace? Employees with soft skills are extremely valuable and could be the difference for your company between staying stagnant and achieving new & great success.
Some of the most valued soft skills include: leadership, time management, teamwork, communication, problem-solving, ownership/responsibility, and critical thinking. Training for these soft skills requires focus and dedication. As the employer, you must be ready to provide opportunities and a supportive environment in order to develop your team’s soft skills. Here are 6 ways you can develop your team’s soft skills.
Before you jump in to developing your team’s soft skills you must first assess which soft skills they need developed most. One of the ways employers “test” their employees’ for these skills is to give them problems that require them to use valuable soft skills. Give your employees a problem and see how they go about solving it. Do they look to collaborate with their team or seek/provide feedback? Can they stay composed under stress?
Use work-related tasks and problems to find the strengths and weaknesses each member of your team has and then use the following methods to develop a plan to nurture and grow your team’s soft skills.
Keeping your team stimulated and challenged helps develop a strong work ethic and promotes critical thinking. This sets the platform for developing your team’s soft skills. Setbacks provide the perfect opportunity to grow soft skills. Whether it’s a project that failed or a growing team conflict, leaders who coach their team through the challenges of the workplace, can help their team members develop critical soft skills.
For example, say tensions are rising in your IT department. Your team can’t agree on which new process they should use for reporting and fixing errors. As the employer, this would be your chance to test each person’s ability to not only lead, but also problem-solve and work as a team. Give each person the time to test their process for reporting with the contingency that they must work with the team to see the process through to success. Allowing each team member the time to lead a project and the time to collaborate & support their team will help each one develop their soft skills.
Teamwork and the ability to collaborate with others is a soft skill that can be especially hard to find. A team player is perceptive, intuitive, and sensitive to their teammates’ needs. They are also able to negotiate with their peers, while valuing their ideas and concerns.
The best (and most interesting) way to develop this soft skill with your team is to schedule some time for team-building activities such as a bowling night or escape room challenge. Team-building exercises can be a fun and effective way to improve teamwork and identify people’s strengths and weaknesses. If you decide to schedule a team-building exercise, you should select one that meets your training objective. For some more fun and challenging team-building activities, check out this list of 27 Fun Corporate Team-Building Activities.
Making continuous learning a natural part of work is one of the best ways to develop your team’s soft skills. Promote learning in your workplace by sending your team to leadership seminars, recommending online courses or books, and sponsoring your employee’s higher education.
Keep education and learning top of mind by talking about it regularly in scheduled discussions about your team’s educational development. These conversations are an opportunity to get information on workload, performance issues, and progress on knowledge and skill development.
Acknowledging your team’s successes as well as their defeats will not only help you gauge their abilities, it will also help them grow and perfect their own abilities. Make a point to recognize and reward things such as employees stepping up to lead a project, communicating clearly, or solving a complex issue.
When things don’t go the way you want them to with your team, ask them what or how something was done, not why. Providing effective constructive feedback means helping someone to improve what they did, rather than criticizing why they did it. This will give your team the room they need to reflect on their actions and learn from them.
Effective leadership opportunities will not only develop your team’s leadership abilities, but also strengthen them as a whole. Identify your leaders in the making and give them the opportunity to shine. Hand over a task carefully and help the team member who takes it on succeed. Ask that team member to provide training, implement a new procedure, or develop future plans. Taking on a new challenge will improve your team’s confidence and give them valuable leadership experience.