Employees prefer to improve hard skills (i.e., the ones related to their professional field) – for example, knowledge of programming languages, design patterns, translation, content writing and so on. People attach less importance to soft skills, although these skills make a sought-after specialist.
What are soft skills?
These are non-professional skills not related to the official duties of an employee. Soft skills are the same for everyone, regardless of specialty. They include:
- listening skills;
- competent oral and written communication;
- an ability to defend your position constructively, to ask proper questions;
- communication with representatives of different specialties, social and cultural groups;
- team-building, goal-setting, taking the initiative and delegating responsibilities;
- understanding the task – what you should do and why you need it.
Why do we need them?
- To increase personal productivity. Sometimes it is more effective to ask a colleague and get an answer in 10 minutes than to seek the solution to the problem on your own all day long.
- To optimize workflow. If your technical skills are not perfect, soft skills will compensate for this. An employee who can ask questions has no problem clarifying some information or asking for help.
- To plan time. Those who can set tasks and map out the working time manage to do more.
- To get a promotion. To hold key positions, you need leadership qualities, delegation skills, and the proper knowledge of conflict management. When discussing the desired position or salary increase, you will also need negotiation skills and the ability to argue your point.
What skills does everyone need?
- Hear your team members. Let us consider the example of a standard team. The product manager wants more opportunities for customers; the QA engineer intends to remove all the bugs; designers wish to play with fonts and the content writer is willing to create a long highly-artistic description of the products (which nobody’s gonna read, by the way). The team will be able to make the product only if everyone hears each other and works towards a consensus.
- Do not be afraid to talk about your problem. You can improve this skill during short meetings for 5-15 minutes at which each member of the team can speak out. If a specialist has a question, it should be discussed. Colleagues will help to solve it within 15 minutes of the meeting or develop a solution later.
- Plan. If your boss assigns a task that is impossible to accomplish within a specific time frame (for example, write an expert article of 2000 words within 3 hours), you should tell him/her about it and adduce reasons why it is impossible. When everyone speaks out and hears each other, they can develop a realistic work schedule.
Use soft skills and improve yourself and your team. Then every day you will go to work full of pleasure and enthusiasm.