You as a leader are the biggest contributor to your team’s level of production. And most of the things you can do to increase good outcomes have to do with soft skills.
Hard skills, also known as technical skills, are technical knowledge or training you’ve acquired through life experience, including in your career or education. For example, if you worked for a technology company, you may know how to write code. Coding is a hard skill.
Soft skills are personal habits and traits that shape how you work, especially how you work with others. Effective communication, for example, is a key soft skill employers seek. A few others include dependability, impactful teamwork, and active listening.
While hard skills are necessary to successfully perform technical tasks in a job, soft skills are necessary to create a positive and functional work environment.
When it comes to good outcomes in the workplace, here are eight key factors reported by team members with high output levels:
- I know what is expected of me and my work.
- I have the resources and training to thrive in my role.
- I have the opportunity to do what I do best—every day.
- I frequently received recognition, praise, and constructive criticism.
- I trust my leader and believe he/she has my best interests in mind.
- My voice is heard and valued.
- I clearly understand our organization’s vision and purpose and how I contribute to each.
- I have opportunities to learn and grow both personally and professionally.
Hmm, no mention of salary level. Interesting, isn’t it? Good outcomes aren’t bought, they’re cultivated. Soft skills are the fertilizer that bring out the best of your team’s hard skills.
Here are five powerful soft skills we who lead can and should develop:
Soft skill 1: Get the right people in the right seats, doing the right things
When we slot people in roles where their passion, pain, and proficiency intersect, they produce at high levels. These properly slotted teammates do not need to be tightly managed. They enjoy work more. They buy in.
Soft skill 2: Provide continuing education
If you want a team member’s productivity to grow, make room for them to grow. Invest in ongoing training. The business world in general does a better job than the nonprofit world when it comes to a commitment to their employees’ continuing education.
Soft skill 3: Show genuine interest
Your staff and team are not robots, nor simply cogs in a machine. They are human beings with families, feelings, dreams, and yes, pain. We are not suggesting you become a pseudo-counselor. Rather, regularly take a few moments to ask how a team member is doing, how their family is coming along—and really listen to them. Genuinely care about the answers to those questions. Talented, self-respecting people want to work for someone who cares about them.
Soft skill 4: Connect dots between your team’s tasks and the vision of your organization
One of the most motivating things you can do for your team is help them understand how the work they do every day contributes to the compelling destination your organization is striving to reach.
Soft skill 5: Recognize a job well-done
Your teammates can run in the strength of a well-deserved compliment for weeks. What gets celebrated gets repeated. So, look for what they are doing well and give them proper recognition.
Why does developing soft skills matter? Why should we who lead care about this?
- If you’re serious about reaching your full potential as an organization, you need a team. A fully engaged, productive team. Your soft skills pour positive fuel on your teams’ hard skills.
- A team getting good outcomes is much more fun to be around and work with. It’s a blast to work with people who are all rowing in the same direction. Your employee retention rate will soar.
- The people you serve will benefit greatly. They’ll be happier, and more loyal to your organization.
One last word . . . can I encourage you to avoid the tendency to blame your teammates for their lack of production? First take a long look in the mirror. Do you have the right people in the right seats doing the right things? Are you investing in their growth? Do you genuinely care about their life outside of work? Do they understand how what they do every day connects to the big picture vision of the organization? And do you recognize their accomplishments?
If you want to win, you need a talented, fully engaged, positive-outcome-producing team.
Rooting and praying for you,