Essential Soft Skills in the Workplace

10 min. read

Interpersonal skills in the workplace can often make a huge difference in how a company's culture is defined.

More than ever before, soft skills are necessary to navigate the treacherous waters of modern business. While soft skills aren’t a requirement that is put on a job description, without them you won’t be working in an amazing workplace. Employees are leaving their jobs left, right and center. It is known as the Great Resignation and has shifted the landscape drastically. The pandemic threw a curveball at us all and we all had to adapt. Remote working has risen while teams working together in person have largely fallen by the wayside. Today a great place to work has both workers and managers who have excellent soft skills and adaptive reasoning.


The difference between hard and soft skills


Hard skills are the job-specific technical skills you need to do your job. It may even be something that is a self-taught skill like blacksmithing at a home forge. The technical expertise of any sort that means you know how to get something done is a hard skill. It doesn’t matter whether you are a seamstress or if you flip burgers. A short-order cook has a set of skills a Michelin star chef doesn’t and vice versa. Having hard skills means you can create something or perform a task or service that can be traded or paid for.


Someone who runs a garage and does auto repairs is highly skilled in that area. The fact that you know how to do that job and can do it well is a hard skill. As you get into business many other skills come into play such as data analytics and accounting skills. PR, as well as HR, all come with different skills that are essential to the growth of the organization in different ways.


Examples of Hard Skills in Business


Data Analytics

Accounting

Computer/Software Programming/IT

Fluency in a Foreign Language

Mechanical or Engineering/ Manufacturing


On the other hand, soft skills are interpersonal skills that focus on how people relate and communicate with others. The OXFORD dictionary says that soft skills are the personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.


Examples of Soft Skills

Teamwork

Communication

Ability to get along with others

Empathy


Being able to work well with others is incredibly important in an organization. Communication plays a large role as well as being able to empathize in some way with the other folks you work with as well as your clients or customers. Teamwork makes the dream work as they say.


Leadership


The Harvard Business Review says that leadership refers to an individual’s ability to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward organizational success. A leader sets an example and takes responsibility for the team and the productivity of the whole picture at all times. Leadership requires care and attention and interpersonal communication skills a the highest level. Understanding your team members is a part of being a leader and in today's business environment this crosses many different cultures and languages. Leading also means it is your job to recognize when your team members are withdrawing from the group and figure out how to re-engage them. If you don’t they might be another casualty of the Great Resignation. You need to be able to navigate through any misunderstandings and make everyone feel included in the group to achieve maximum success. Leadership can be taught to a degree but a true leader shows up with passion and clarity of purpose. Innate empathy for others can’t be taught in a course or at a school it comes from caring and caring is a soft skill that pays large dividends. A Leader inspires others and influences through positive motivation and example, not through power, fear, and control.


Problem-solving


Solving problems is a skill that can be a game-changer for a team or an organization. Being able to think through all the angles that present themselves and find a solution to any problems is an essential skill for managers and all senior-level roles. If you can work out how to fix an issue or work out how to get the team to work together to get any obstacles removed or issue solved you will find yourself to be an invaluable and trusted asset in any team. This is a soft skill but it applies across the board. Resilience in an adverse situation shows character as well as leadership qualities. From the mailroom to the board room there are always snags or hassles that arise. Some folks get bogged down in problems and can’t make decisions. Being able to adapt and improvise around any setbacks speaks volumes about a person – these are the people who think of new ideas. Innovation is at the heart of progress. Solving problems and creating solutions results in better ways of doing things. It needs up saving both the organization and customers time and money.


Examples of Business Soft Skills


Delegating

Decision making

Mentoring

Emotional Intelligence (EQ)


Soft skills applied


Collaboration


Promoting collaboration is an excellent way to foster a positive work environment and create a great place to work. Encouraging members of the team to voice their ideas about a new product or a problem can unleash creativity and assist you in not only removing an obstacle but building the team in the process.


Communication


No matter what business you are in, communication is arguably the most essential soft skill for business leaders. Skillful communication also requires intelligence and an emotional connection with the people that you are communicating with. Listening as well as speaking to others is a skill that cannot be overstated. Listening means you have to understand what they are saying both verbally and non-verbally. Picking up on unspoken hints and taking cues that are not spoken or written is part and parcel of having excellent soft skills in this area. Letting people know they have been heard is a key ingredient to communicating in an amazing workplace. You can also use a “yes, and” strategy. You validate their feelings and let them know they have been understood while also taking the opportunity to redirect them to take a form of action.


Taking soft skills into account during the hiring process will help leaders build teams that don’t dissolve quickly and slow or stop the flow of resignations. Building soft skills will help anyone at any level of business or entrepreneurship. Soft skills foster a great place to work and builds confidence in leadership and teamwork alike.