Soft Skills are Hard Core

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“Let’s stop calling them ‘soft skills.’ They might be skills, but they’re not soft.” Seth Godin

A lot has been written about the stress, anxiety and uncertainty plaguing employees as they work remotely. Managers are urged to communicate often, to listen to employees’ issues, and to show empathy for their situations. Clear, concise, constructive and caring communication from managers has never been more important.

Managers are also faced with decisions about what their organizations’ new normal will be. Will some employees be allowed to continue to work remotely? Should some employees be required to return to the worksite? If so, what safety precautions and procedures will need to be in place? These decisions require critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Many managers are often promoted from within due to their technical expertise. There isn’t a compelling reason or opportunity in their technical jobs for them to develop leadership and interpersonal skills. Now that they are in management positions, their lack of these skills becomes a problem. All management interactions, such as: leading change, handling a difficult employee, giving performance feedback, resolving conflict, or building a team, require effective interpersonal skills.

Surprisingly, interpersonal skills, such as communication, active listening, collaboration, conflict management, critical thinking, decision making, and emotional intelligence, are considered “soft” skills. Calling them “soft” skills suggests that they are less important or easier to learn than technical “hard” skills. Nothing could be further from the truth. These interpersonal skills are essential for individual and organizational success. They also require considerable practice to achieve mastery.

Research has shown that people lose jobs more often because of their inadequate mastering of soft skills than for their incompetence with their technical hard skills. There are more workplace problems caused by weak communication and collaboration skills than by technical errors and faulty designs.

Managers who: lack emotional intelligence, cannot control their anger or their tone of voice, cannot make decisions, play favorites, communicate poorly, don’t know how to collaborate, or don’t handle conflict or disagreements objectively or professionally, can do irreparable damage to their working relationships with their peers and their employees. Employees don’t leave organizations, they leave managers.

Soft skills need to be learned and practiced in an interactive and supportive environment, with sufficient opportunity for interpersonal interactions. Peer learning groups, as structured by The Peer Learning Institute, offer a confidential space for managers to share their experience and expertise as they tackle a current shared management challenge. They can collaborate and support each other as they learn, develop, strengthen and apply techniques dependent on soft skills to better handle the challenge- both within their discussions and in the flow of work as they fulfill their management responsibilities.

The ability to manage people involves a variety of soft skills. Peer learning groups help managers master the soft skills they need to positively affect a company’s bottom line.

How does your organization help your managers develop necessary soft skills?

We welcome an opportunity to discuss this further. We invite you to set up a chat using this link:

#peerlearninggroups  #buildingsoftskills #managementdevelopment  #leadershipskills #technicalexpertslackinginterpersonalskills

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