According to a LinkedIn study, 89% of bad hires typically lack soft skills such as creativity, persuasion, teamwork, collaboration, adaptability, and time management. Communication, empathy, teamwork, worth ethic and leadership are some of the necessary skills to advance in your career. These skills go beyond the technical skills needed for a job but enhance career success. Employers are starting to understand the importance of soft skills and how they drive business success. So, what are soft skills and why are they important?
Defining soft skills
According to Wikipedia, “soft skills, also known as common skills or core skills, are skills which are desirable in all professions.” These skills are interpersonal and transferable skills that are often needed in every type of role, especially in leadership, to thrive. Things like getting to work on time, being able to communicate with empathy to your coworkers, and being able to manage your time are often overlooked as valuable skills. When you think about it, though, how can you succeed at your job if you don’t possess these basic attributes?
Here are some important soft skills that are essential for every employee:
- Time management
- Critical thinking
- Stress management
- Conflict management
- Openness to criticism
Another soft skill includes gaining increased prominence which is the candidates’ ability to build large networks across various industries and sectors.
Why are soft skills important?
We interact with different types of individuals every day. When interacting and working with people, we need to be more understanding and open to ideas and be able to have challenging conversations about projects and tasks. In order to perform well, soft skills are important to enhance collaboration, provide mentorship for growth and even motivate employees with a positive attitude when obstacles arise.
Some of the main reasons why soft skills are important:
- Compassion in leadership
A Gallup study states that 50% of employees leave due to poor managers. (Source: Fortune). Successful leaders lead with empathy and can put themselves in other’s shoes. Being able to listen and be open to others is an extremely important attribute to have to motivate employees and be supportive when required. When employees see that their manager cares about them, they usually are happy and want to work toward the business’s success.
- Ability to not only do the job but do it well
Technical skills are important to be able to do your job. However, focusing on honing skills such as time-management, communication and problem-solving only enhances one’s ability to do the job well. For example, you might be able to complete a project, however, it’s also critical to meet the set deadline or collaborate with the team when needed.
- Career progression
Developing your soft skills is important to prove you can be a good leader and be able to manage others. As mentioned above, compassion, empathy and active listening are all important skills you need to hone to be able to be a manager your team can trust. You might have more experience, but if you are not able to improve your soft skills, it might take you longer to gain your team’s trust and progress in your career.
- Soft skills can’t be automated
While the world is becoming more digital, emotional intelligence cannot be created by a software program. Soft skills are fundamentally human and will not be automated in the future. No matter how efficiently you run your team, at the end of the day, it’s human interaction, mutual respect and a feeling of belonging that motivates your employees.
- Customers and clients need soft skills
Let’s face it, we have so many choices and so many options for everything from clothes to food to electronics. This means that consumers and clients are looking to be influenced – and only someone with interpersonal skills will be able to get their customers to want to work with them.
- Soft skills are transferable
One of the good things about possessing and honing soft skills is that they are valuable in any profession and any role. While all your traits might not match every part of a job description, your soft skills might come in handy and prove to be more important for the role overall. Soft skills help you grow and help you continue learning; therefore, they will be an asset in any profession.
- Teamwork and communication are important
More and more companies are realizing the importance of collaboration and teamwork. Teams need to be able to work together happily to be motivated and productive. To be able to collaborate, it’s important to have soft skills such as communication, a problem-solving attitude and active listening skills. These skills can keep teams engaged and also help with conflict resolution to ease any forms of miscommunication.
Assessing soft skills in candidates
Soft skills are valuable assets that are often hard to assess from looking at a resume. When interviewing candidates, it might be a good idea to ask them questions that will help you understand their soft skills better such as communication traits and time management capabilities.
- Tip #1: Ask behavioral-based questions
One of the best ways to understand a candidate’s soft skills is by asking them behavioral-based questions. These questions will show you how candidates will respond in stressful or other situations where communication and skills besides technical abilities will be needed. For example, you could ask about how the candidate solved a problem that came up during a project, how they handled a scenario where there was miscommunication or even how they went about asking for help during a project assigned to them.
- Tip #2: Check references
Checking in with your candidates’ references is the best way to get to know your potential hire more. You can ask about how your candidate went about developing relationships, how they like to be managed and even gain insights into what it’s like working with the candidate on a day-to-day basis. Use this as an opportunity to learn more about the candidate that you wouldn’t be able to from the interview.
- Tip #3: Pay attention to reactions
Keep in mind every reaction and expression your candidate makes during the interview. This is specifically important when they are answering your questions as you will be able to gauge the way they communicate and how they react to stressful or unique questions. As noted, communication is one of the most important skills to have. It’s important to see how the candidate is communicating with you when you ask your questions. Notice any interruptions, enthusiasm or if they are actively listening when you are explaining something. This, in addition to their performance, is important to make sure you find the right fit for the open position.
Soft skills are always going to be important in the workplace. It’s important to continue to improve on soft skills and understand how valuable they are for productivity, efficiency, and motivation