Why, More Than Ever, We Need to Work on Improving Our Soft Skills.
Updated: Nov 28, 2019
What is the number one training priority in your organization?
In last year’s LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report, which surveyed groups of professionals like talent developers, executives and managers, one of the key findings was that the top training priority is the development of soft skills. While hard skills tend to be technical and tangible, soft skills are those that relate to our humanity and are less tangible, things like self-management and interpersonal relations.
The LinkedIn survey underscores that the market requires workers who are adaptable to constant change, are critical thinkers, good communicators and leaders. These skills are nuanced and complex. Their growing demand stems from changes in the market, and, ironically, from our increasing dependence on technology.
As companies strive to stay in touch with the changing needs of their customers, so-called agile organizations are becoming more common. These are companies that organize their workers in structures that no longer look like pyramids, with hierarchical controls, but instead resemble shape-shifting organisms with no little or no mid-level management. As teams work flexibly together, with little room or time for micromanagement, so grows the demand for an awareness of self, personal leadership, discipline and emotional intelligence.
While we struggle to find optimal organizational structures, it feels like technology has advanced two or three steps ahead of human workplace skills. Or, put another way, our focus on software solutions and working remotely may have created an imbalance that needs to be corrected. We have spent so much time learning necessary apps and systems, and precious little time, if any, on people skills.
The LinkedIn report makes clear that we need to evolve better ways to communicate with each other, we need to refine group working skills and determine the best ways to interact to be productive. Equally important, in a world of constant change, we need to learn how to manage our own emotions while at the same time understanding those of others so that we can then use that emotional intelligence to enhance collaboration and productivity.
These less tangible, but vital soft skills, need to be developed over time. One of the best ways to do this is to work with a professional coach who can guide you through the self-learning process at your own pace. From personality assessments to in-depth conversations about challenges with leadership and interpersonal relations, a coach is a supportive partner who reserves the space for you to think clearly and confidentially. This is a tremendous advantage, because you can take the path to professional self-improvement without having to share your innermost challenges with superiors or colleagues.
It’s imperative that we all work on our soft skills. They are essential and transferable. We need them to successfully navigate the rapidly evolving marketplace, to empower us and help us reach our potential.