Most people take the lead on their soft skill development, meaning they typically facilitate how and when they develop these skills independently. But would it surprise you to hear that you, as an employer, should shoulder some of the responsibility for your employees?
You can and should play a role in teaching and cultivating soft skills in your team. These non-technical skills can influence how people work, solve problems, and collaborate with their coworkers.
Successfully teaching soft skills as an employer starts with creating an environment where soft skills can thrive and adopting these best practices:
When you bring someone into your company, they come with various skills, experiences, and education. You can teach them soft skills like work ethic, adaptation, and collaboration by helping them reinforce and apply the knowledge and skills they already have to their role with your company.
Offer your employees different opportunities to learn and grow so they can find new ways to use what they already know and have. This could look like taking them to networking events, conferences, and workshops to allow them to keep honing and practicing their soft skills.
Giving your employees more responsibility can help them cultivate essential soft skills too. When you trust employees with more responsibility, it can drastically improve their leadership skills. They also get better at decision-making, time management, and delegation.
It’s best to wait until an employee shows you they’re ready for more responsibility before giving it to them. Once they do, sit down with them to chat about what projects or responsibilities they are interested in leading. Then, put together a plan for what they will do and how you will look after their progress.
Volunteering presents a fantastic opportunity to develop soft skills. When you encourage your employees to partake in volunteer work, not only are they a part of something that moves the community forward, but they’re also working on their people skills, active listening, and positivity.
There are plenty of ways to volunteer today. For example, you can set up a time for your team to volunteer at a local nonprofit each month. You can restore plant life in different nature reserves. Give back to food banks in your area. Or each of your employees can be a mentor in a youth program.
Some of the best soft skill development comes when your employees socialize and create personal relationships.
Consistently interacting with one another can help your team learn about each other and how to best work together as a team. They get better at brainstorming. And it can help them resolve conflict more seamlessly.
Encourage employees to socialize with each other during the workday. Ensure they’re collaborating on projects and tasks. Host group meetings and team-building activities often. You can also put on company events to bring everyone closer to each other.
Employers can also teach soft skills by supporting individualism in the workplace. It’s incredible how much more confident and productive your employees are when they can be themselves at work.
And in being themselves at work, they can evolve soft skills like creativity, authenticity, and optimism. All of which are integral to how well your team works together, the quality of work they produce, and staying relevant in your particular industry.
Allow your employees to express their originality and uniqueness whenever possible. This could be in the way they dress, the ideas they bring forth, or how and when they work. Don’t stifle their curiosity or discourage them from experimenting. Instead, embrace and encourage these things.
Focusing more on soft skills when hiring new team members is a crucial best practice to adopt as well. Bringing people on board who already have things like innovation, cultural intelligence, and empathy can give your current team members someone to look up to when growing their own soft skills.
So, when you’re ready to bring someone new on board, note their technical skills but dive into the soft skills they have. It’s a good idea to identify the soft skills you want on your team and need in the role you’re hiring for beforehand to ensure you hire a good fit.
Mentorship programs can be another avenue for helping your team grow their soft skills.
For example, mentors give their mentees constructive feedback all the time. Soliciting, accepting, and implementing feedback is a soft skill that can catapult any employee into the next stage of their career.
Your mentorship program doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply ask your seasoned employees if they’d be interested in taking a new employee under their wing. Those who accept the task can help their mentees identify soft skills to grow, create a development plan, and provide emotional support.
Although it’s not talked about nearly enough, employers can teach soft skills as much as they can teach technical skills to their teams. A nice mixture of hard and soft skills in every employee you have will ensure your company lives on long-term. But it may take a bit longer for your team to master soft skills. So, approach the process with patience and make real time and plans for develop these skills.