Why Soft Skills Are Important

We need a balance between hard and soft skills

With the evolution of Artificial Intelligence and the increased trend to work mechanically, there is an urgent need to reflect on soft skills. Although with the advent of technology we are now better connected with our peers, it has been noticed that people are slowly losing their ability to communicate face to face.

When was the last time you picked up the phone to call someone in another department, or even physically went to their office to talk face-to-face, rather than texting or emailing? With over 100 billion emails sent globally every day, chances are the bulk of your communication to anyone not in your direct surroundings is conducted electronically.

So, in this big world of Ones and Zeroes are we losing the human touch? Well in a management curriculum, the first-year studies include all the aspects of a business including subjects like Organizational Behavior and Communication. However, one doesn’t really pay much attention to these topics. The Soft Skills column on a CV doesn’t only create a picture about the employee but also about what type of manager she/he would become. Hence, it is equally important to hone those skills as well.

People are the most important asset of any firm. It has been seen that the companies that take of their employees have a lower attrition rate. In fact, an article by Harvard Business Review studies the very phenomenon of why employees leave an organization.

People Management Skills

Effective people management can not only influence productivity but also has a direct correlation with morale of employees and their motivation to work harder and smarter. In today’s dynamic work environment, it is not enough for a leader to be able to just lead a team, she/he must be able to motivate people to go above and beyond, solve difficult problems and be part of a high-performing work culture.

Although the list of skills required to be a good manager are many, given below are some that will definitely help you go a long way in your career

Empathy

Being able to put yourself in your employee’s shoes is one of the most important quality a leader can possess. If an employee comes up and says that he/she won’t be able to work because they are sick, understand what they going through. Understanding the situation, easing their trouble and lending support whenever needed will help build long-term relationships. Your job as a manager is to make their work life easier for the time being — or help them stay focused — until things settle down.

Communication

Communication does not only include telling your employees what they can or can’t do. It is a two-way street and not a monologue. One of the most important part of communication-which most of the time people tend to miss out on- is listening to the other person. Take the time to listen to what your employees have to say without interrupting. Then think about what you want to say before responding. This type of active listen-and-respond is not always easy, but with practice, it can make a difference in how you communicate with your team members and how they communicate with you.

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Of course the other portion of effective communication includes how you talk and project yourself to others. As employees are part of the organization, they want to stay updated with the latest happenings, so keep them in the loop. This increases transparency and feeling of ownness among employees. Written communication with employees should not be too rude or harsh.

Negotiation

Do not take sides! In case of a conflict between two employees, remain impartial. This shows your ability to be fair. This will encourage your workforce to approach you easily and without much hesitation. It is very important to not take sides and jump in along with the conflict. As a good manager, your employees look up to you for fair and just judgments.

Macromanagement

We are aware of its opposite-micromanagement which is a manager’s tendency to closely observe and control the work of their employees. Macromanagement, on the other hand, is a more independent style of organization. Managers step back and give employees the freedom to do their jobs how they see fit. As long as employees reach the desired result, the manager doesn’t have to “hold their hands” or hover over their shoulders looking for mistakes.

This is good for your employees because it gives them the freedom to solve problems, perfect their skills, and become the best team member they can be. A good manager develops a balanced view and practice of micro- and macromanagement and understands when to apply both.

Rewards

Titles like Employee of the Month etc are not to show the world that a certain employee is the best but they are a way to praise those who work hard. Rewards are very important. Give credit where credit is due, acknowledge when an employee does good work, commend an employee’s abilities be it technical or otherwise and recognize those who are improving. This not only motivates employees to do more work but also better work.

Patience

Patience is a vital trait in a manager. When setbacks and obstacles arise-and they will-a good manager remains patient and calm. This is easier said than done, of course. It’s true that some are born with more patience than others, but that doesn’t mean you can’t develop your ability to keep a level head in a stressful situation.

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When you feel like others are losing their cool — and you might be right there with them — try the following exercise.

  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  3. Slowly count to 10 in your head (one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi works well here).

Apart from these skills there are so many others that if cultivated will help in the long run. Some of them are-

  • Honesty
  • Trust
  • High EQ
  • Adaptability
  • Accountability
  • Interest in Others
  • Open Mind
  • Supportiveness
  • Optimism

Of course, even the above list isn’t exhaustive but as there are so many aspects to a human mind, it is almost impossible to encapsulate all.

One basic rule is- think about what you are about to write or say and then imagine how you would feel if those things were said to you. This will not only help you in dealing with your peers but also anyone you associate with.

As we talk about people management skills, there is one very important and interesting up-and coming scenario plaguing almost every organization.

Change Management

Today when firms have to keep evolving themselves continuously to stay open for business managing the people side of a change is often the most challenging and critical component of an organizational transformation.

Change Management and Business Terms on Blackboard

Change management is the process, tools and techniques to manage the people side of change to achieve its required business outcomes. It is the systematic management of employee engagement and adoption when the organization changes how work will be done. Ultimately, change management focuses on how to help employees embrace, adopt and utilize a change in their day-to-day work.

Change management is both a process and a competency.

Today, it is not only important to focus on technical skills because companies look for more, beyond your professional certifications. Firms want employees that are not only good at their work but also great at making connections with their subordinates, peers and seniors.

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