When you hire staff, you look at their resumes. Education is important and experience helps, but all companies need employees who have soft skills. These are abilities that individuals can use anywhere and are rarely taught in classrooms, including critical thinking, adaptability and emotional intelligence. Employees who lack those capabilities are less likely to satisfy their managers.
"Employers are saying I don't care about all the knowledge you learned because it's going to be out of date two minutes after you graduate ... I care about whether you can continue to learn over time and solve complex problems," Debra Humphreys, vice president for policy and public engagement at the Association of American Colleges and Universities, told The Wall Street Journal.
However, you often discover too late that you've hired someone whose soft skills are lacking. Here's a look at the capabilities you want in an ideal candidate and how you can foster them in your staff:
Flexibility refers to being able to change and adapt in new situations. The people you hire may not initially be familiar with your company's structure or their daily duties. Every job shift requires getting to know the environment and work. What's more, companies go through changes, and people who have been with you for a decade may need to adjust at times. Employees who are able to roll with the punches, maintain their work ethic and continue to be an asset to your company are irreplaceable.
No one is perfect, and that goes for your employees. But as long as an individual knows his or her strengths and weaknesses, he or she is valuable. Being able to identify one's own faults requires the ability to reflect. And even when your employees know their weaknesses, they may not be able to overcome them. People who understand their shortcomings and constantly work to improve them show they are not only hardworking, but also observant.
A good employee doesn't wait to be told what to do. He or she either intuits what your team needs or is proactive and asks what the next step is. The best employees can manage themselves, meeting deadlines, finding answers and producing high-quality work. Additionally, part of being independent means following through when making promises. You expect your staff to complete the things they say they will. If they don't, you could be in trouble with a client.
Being able to communicate clearly and effectively is incredibly important no matter your industry. This skill covers verbal and written communication alike. Many employers gripe that their staff is unable to write well, and it reflects poorly on the company. Your staff will send emails and notes to clients, so good writing skills are important.
Developing Soft Skills
Even employees who have these skills can improve them, so consider making them a part of your company training program. eLearning courseware that focuses on developing soft skills can help your staff improve. ej4 has a library of off-the-shelf videos that are short and impactful.