According to Harvard University (2015), soft-skills account for 85% of workplace success with technical skills making up the other 15%. Yet, many employers spending weeks and months training new-joiners in ‘hard’ skills and sometimes no time at all on soft-skills. While technical training is vital for client satisfaction, soft-skills are equally important. Our clients and customers engage with our employees in many different ways through outlets such as email, telephone conversations and even social media therefore it is increasingly vital that employees have the commercial skills to compliment their technical abilities. Many employers may fear that providing such transferable training may result in budget spent training team members who may eventually use the skills at a different company, perhaps even a competitor. However, ask yourself, ‘would you rather have unskilled employes stay within your business?’ I’ve put together a list of three essential soft-skills for any team member, although this list is not exhaustive.
Sometimes described as ‘grit’, resilience is the ability of a person to bounce back in the face of change or adversity. Resilient employees build strong connections and relationships with others (Davis Laak, 2014), and also tend to exhibit more ‘stickabilty’ and spend more years with the same employer. For this reason, spending on resilience training can save thousands per employee in the long run. Aside from training, another accessible way to nurture employee resilience is to ensure they are networking outside of their immediate team. This allows the employee to seek help and support, which in their own team could cause them to be vulnerable (Jackson et al, 2007).
2. Client Service Delivery
Serving clients manifests in many different ways, and Client Service Delivery training should reflect this. Whether a particular employee serves clients directly, in a sales capacity or internally in a support role, it is vital that they understand where their role fits into the bigger picture. This may serve two purposes, Firstly, the employee will know that all tasks, even the seemingly unimportant, relate directly to client matters and therefore should be treated as such. Secondly, it will serve as a motivational factor to the employee impressing upon them that their role is integral to the business.
3. Critical Thinking & Decision Making
In business, we make many big, impactful decisions weekly, sometimes daily. However, we often forget that our employees make micro-decisions every ten minutes. Some of them have a greater effect than others on the company, however all of them take time to make. When we train our employees to think critically and make quick decisions we boost efficiency within the office. We also reduce the chances of indecisive employees who must always consult other (sometimes busier) team members before making even tiny decisions.
There are a great number of soft-skills which enhance not only efficiency but performance and productivity as well. Ideally, every organisation should include a number of sessions dedicated to softer skills within the first few weeks or months of employment, however the three skills mentioned in this article are an absolute must if you are to build an experienced and savvy workforce. Some soft-skills such as sales and pitching are more prevalent in certain roles, however there are skills which benefit all roles. It is important that you evaluate the soft-skills gap within your organisation and start from there to implement commercial skills into your on-boarding practices. You won’t regret it!