Soft skills are just as important as hard skills in the workplace, but what exactly are they?
As more and more companies embrace the idea of remote working, soft skills become even more important for employee (and business) success. For example, an employee with below-average communication skills is likely to be alright if working with other people in the same office space. However, when staff are all working remotely, and some across different time zones, the value of communication skills increases exponentially.
Preparing people for this new world, and equipping them for success, means activating behavior change at scale.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are abilities related to how you interact with other people. Basically, they are the qualities and characteristics that help employees thrive at work.
Employers often look for candidates with particular soft skills because these characteristics are difficult to teach, and are critical for long-term success in an organization. Often, these are the skills that separate high performers from the rest — for example, the ability to communicate clearly, manage time well and work well with others.
Unlike hard skills, which are technical and job-specific, soft skills are vital for success in any industry, which is why we refer to them as power skills.
Why are soft skills important?
Soft skills are important for success in the workplace. People who have good soft skills tend to have strong situational awareness, helping them to handle difficult work situations. It also makes them ideal candidates for leadership positions, where managing people and directing their efforts is more important than any specific technical skills.
Soft skills also help people adapt to changing circumstances. The ability to communicate effectively, and collaborate with others when solutions aren't obvious, is hugely important — whether someone is in a leadership role or not.
Which soft skills are most important?
The ability to speak, and listen, to others is vital within organizations. The ability to communicate effectively using words and body language, as well as through written and visual elements is necessary to help relay thoughts and ideas to others.
Problems are inevitable in every job, but they present great opportunities to learn. Using your knowledge to find answers and workable solutions to pressing problems demonstrates your ability to excel in your job. This makes problem-solving a vital power skill.
Never before has adaptability been a more important skill in the workplace. Companies often need to make drastic changes in order to remain competitive, so employees need to be able to shift gears at any time. As organizations have become more agile over time, employees have to show a willingness to take on new responsibilities and change the way they do things.
Organizations want to have employees they can trust to get the job done. Punctuality, meeting deadlines and checking work for accuracy are all a part of demonstrating good work ethic.
In every organization, collaboration is needed within and across teams in order to be productive. While some people prefer to work on their own, the ability to join forces is always needed, regardless of the field you work in.
The ability to work with, supervise and get the best out of others is a valuable skill. Organizations want employees who can assess, motivate and encourage others, whilst developing teams, resolving conflicts, and cultivating the company culture.