Develop Soft Skills for Success
The single biggest driver of business impact is the strength of an organization’s learning culture.” This was revealed by Josh Bersin, the founder of Bersin by Deloitte which provides research-based strategies to business leaders. Additionally, the findings of a research conducted by SHRM indicated that 91% of HR professionals across industries attribute the success of their organisations to soft skills which their employees possess, or are trained in. In fact, since learning and development are considered strategically important by most in the C-suite, 85% of organisations have intensified soft skills training, especially since the pandemic. So, most organizations nurturing a learning culture experience multiple benefits, such as improved productivity, better employee engagement and retention on account of talent development, inclusivity and workplace diversity, and enhanced innovation.
Which Soft Skills are a Priority?
An interesting study on reskilling was carried out by McKinsey, internationally during 2019-20. They found that social and emotional skills, especially empathy and interpersonal skills were the most sought-after, from the list of 25 skills presented to the survey participants. The significance of other soft skills namely, leadership and managing others, and adaptability and continuous learning, communication, teamwork, and creativity too accelerated in the corporate world. It is expected that by 2030, the demand for such skills will increase by 22-24% globally.
How to Develop Empathy & Interpersonal Skills?
At the outset, let me clarify that soft skills are an individual’s qualities which helps them interact effectively and build relationships with others. According to Forbes Human Resource Council, soft skills may be developed in varied ways, some of which are:
1. Practice communicating. Grab any and every opportunity to communicate confidently with others (introverts included). Remember, good communication is not just about speaking well, but also about writing correctly, and most importantly listening actively and empathically. Hence, (i) focus on what others are saying without interrupting,(ii) interpret and understand the inherent meaning of their words based on your past experience and according to the situation, (iii) observe the nonverbal cues, (iv) ask questions to sound interested and understand completely, (v) paraphrase and (vi) show empathy using words such as, ‘I can feel what you are going through’.
2. Be Positive. Senior, colleagues, subordinates—all like team members who exhibit a positive attitude. It helps build strong relationships with those around. Therefore, (i) when faced with challenges, try to find solutions rather than evading them or criticizing the system, (ii) praise more, and in public which would keep others motivated, while criticize in private so that their self-confidence doesn’t get depleted, (iii) receive feedback with an open mind, or better still, seek feedback to improve upon your weaknesses, instead of complaining, (iv) set lofty goals and throw your head, heart and soul to achieve them, thereby setting an example for others to emulate (v) be friendly with others by helping more and expecting less from them.
3. Get Trained. In case you don’t want to tread the path alone, get help from the experts. The good news is that soft skills are the socio-emotional skills which can be developed with the right guidance, and consistent practice. Identify particular soft skills you need to inculcate, prioritize them, and start learning and practically applying them in professional and personal life. A number of options are available in terms of receiving virtual, in person, or self-paced modules depending on your learning style, budget, company policy, and resource person’s competence.
Developing soft skills are like developing muscles—the more time and effort you invest, the better they become. The learning organization’s culture comprising its values, beliefs, and behaviours can be transferred to employees through such training. Even at an individual level, those with exceptional soft skills would always stand out in their current jobs. However, upgrading these power skills would prepare them for future progress too.
All the best!