Soft skills, also known as ‘people’ skills, are vital in the business world. The term ‘soft skills’ refers to those skills and attributes that influence how well a person can work and interact with others. They vary from teamwork, communication and negotiation, to things like time-management, problem-solving and working under pressure. They’re broad, and span all industries.
Historically, the importance of soft skills has been wildly underestimated. But that’s certainly changing. Many successful companies are now considering soft skills in equal measure to the hard skills required for the job. Research by Deloitte showed that 92% of executives consider such skills a critical priority, and the World Economic Forum believe by as soon as 2020, these skills will be amongst the most important requirements in the workplace.
To explain why high-level soft skills are so closely related to business success, read on for 5 of their biggest impacts.
Whether with colleagues, clients or other contacts, so much hinges on the quality of working relationships. As well as fostering greater teamwork and cooperation within the office, there are other benefits. Securing new clients requires excellent presentation and communication skills, and general etiquette can either be a great asset or a huge downfall, depending on the level demonstrated. It really can mean the difference between success and failure.
Higher levels of soft skills increase productivity in the office. Employees are better equipped to do their jobs and are more efficient at doing so. Teams are able to work better together using collaborative skills, and improved problem-solving skills allow better solutions to be reached in less time. An increase in time-management skills also helps workers meet deadlines.
The better someone’s soft skills, the higher their confidence is likely to be. And confidence is invaluable, especially in a professional environment. Enough said.
Soft skills equip employees to manage themselves more effectively. We’ve already mentioned that the better they are at managing their time, the more productive they’ll be. But being skilled at controlling their own emotions is often regarded as the most important of all. Not only is it key to working with others, but it’s vital for every individual’s mental health. Being able to stay calm and focused allows people to work well under pressure, and reduces the likelihood of work-related stress or anxiety.
Better team management
Interpersonal skills are vital for managing others. Effective leadership requires social skills such as empathy, active listening and conflict resolution. The importance of skilled managers is illustrated by this one statistic – a whopping 50% of employees leave their job because of bad management. The better a manager’s soft-skills, the better-placed they are to support colleagues and help them develop.
Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. But just as it’s important to enhance the skills specific to your field and your job role, it’s vital to develop soft skills too.
Soft skills aren’t something you’re born with, they’re something to be learned and developed. So if you, or members of your team, could do with some work on a particular area, then now’s the time to do something about it. Of all the skills that can be learnt in the business world, these are the most important. And not just because they influence business success so greatly – but because they influence the whole of your life. They’re not something you’ll leave in the office drawer when you go home for the day, they’re life skills that will be invaluable to you – both at work and out of it. If that doesn’t make them worth your time and effort, we don’t know what does.