Soft skills in business: why are they important?
- Soft Skills
Soft skills such as collaboration, leadership and problem solving are grounded in our personalities. They form the basis of who we are and how we interact with others and situations, and while they are formed by our experiences and character, they can be trained.
Looking purely at professional life, what roles do soft skills play in the workplace and why are they important? Whether you want to understand which of your team’s skills require investment or better gear your soft skills for the business world, this guide will help you understand the impact of soft skills in business.
What are soft skills in the workplace?
Many soft skills can be applied to the workplace. By developing them, teams are more productive and efficient, and the end result is better teamwork and a more conducive working environment. Here are some of the soft skills that build such successful workplaces.
- Responsibility – Allowing staff to take ownership of their work, its quality and impact.
- Confidence – Confident teams are more willing to share and challenge ideas, improving quality control and hastening innovation.
- Leadership – Strong leadership provides the direction and boundaries teams need to succeed.
- Problem solving – Crucial to overcoming business and customer challenges.
- Collaboration – When employees work together, harmoniously, less time and fewer resources are spent on resolving conflicts.
- Flexibility – Allowing employees to adapt to new situations, responsibilities and roles.
- Emotional intelligence – As well as impacting how well you get on with colleagues, emotional intelligence is key to resolving conflicts.
- Stress management – Workplaces can be stressful at times, and understanding how to cope with that stress can be instrumental in creating happy, cohesive teams.
- Storytelling – This soft skill is useful when pitching ideas to colleagues and superiors, and is key to disciplines built on persuasion, such as sales and marketing.
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Importance of soft skills for managers
Soft skills can make or break a managerial role – if you’ve ever had a poor manager, there is a reasonable chance weak soft skills were to blame.
Interpersonal by nature, soft skills allow managers to develop the talents of their staff effectively and expediently in a collaborative manner, and help identify which staff are the greatest assets to the organisation, making advancement quicker and fairer.
Soft skills help managers resolve conflicts between team members, making sure disagreements don’t impact business. They ensure working environments encourage collaboration and the productive use of time, ensuring targets are met.
Given management roles are highly people-focused, countless managerial tasks and responsibilities are dependent on soft skills.
Managers that listen and are open to criticism impart resilience on their businesses. This is because internal failings can be identified and overcome positively and efficiently – as opposed to being ignored and allowed to become more severe.
Soft skills also drive successful recruitment – without an understanding of soft skills and their beneficial impact, managers will be unable to identify these in applicants, leading to a greater risk of hiring staff with poorly developed skills.
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The importance of soft skills for IT professionals
While most skills in IT roles are hard skills – code languages, software literacy and technological understanding, for instance – a successful career in IT is highly dependent on soft skills.
Without this ability, products and services won’t be properly tailored, leading to the needs and priorities of customers and product users not being met.
IT professionals need to be open to feedback, positive and negative. Without self-awareness, their ability to positively receive said feedback can be affected, impacting the quality of finished work.
With every organisation wholly dependent on IT, being able to plan time effectively is a crucial soft skill for professionals with busy workloads.
While IT roles might seem grounded in technical skills, a rounded soft skillset can be hugely beneficial.
In order to solve business and customer challenges, IT professionals require highly developed problem solving skills that can bridge the complexities inherent in the field.
IT is an industry built on jargon often inaccessible to laypeople. This makes the ability to effectively communicate without using technical language particularly valuable for IT businesses.
Soft skills are vital to success in the business world. Learn the difference between hard and soft skills or view a list of the most desirable soft skills for professionals.