Popular Soft Skills Training Required For Managers

Popular Soft Skills Training Required For Managers

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Updated on Nov 25, 2020 17:01 IST

It might be true that technical skills open doors for a job interview, but it’s your soft skills training that makes you grow and drive you towards becoming a leader! And we are not talking about leading a team or anyone else, even if you want to be responsible only for your own career, one can’t do it without mastering soft skills.

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A research found that 75% of long-term job success depends on people skills, while only 25% on technical knowledge (conducted with Fortune 500 CEOs by the Stanford Research Institute International and the Carnegie Mellon Foundation).

In fact, according to the Skill Survey, 77% of employers believe that soft skills are as important as hard skills and 67% of HR managers will hire candidates with strong soft skills even if their hard skills are weak.

According to Greg Layok, Managing Director at West Monroe: 

“We’re better off not hiring than hiring the wrong person (candidate who lacks soft skills). Hiring a developer who’s not collaborative, who doesn’t work well with the team is not a neutral value-add. It’s negative.”

However, another study highlights that only 59 percent of organizations fail to provide any kind of soft skill training to their employees.

That’s the area of concern, but not a reason to stop midway. It’s time to know which are the most desired soft skills today and how to learn and implement these skills in your daily work life. 

What We Have Covered Here:

  1. What is Soft Skills Training and Why Do You need it? 
  2. Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills
  3. Debunking common Soft Skill Myths
  4. Top Soft Skills List along with tips, courses, books, and Ted Shows to develop it 
  5. Conclusion – Talking about Soft Skills in Your Resume and interview

What Are Soft Skills and Why Do You Need It? 

Soft skills are the mirror of a person’s personal attributes which s/he displays in different situations. Some of the popular alternative names of soft skills are – interpersonal skills, essential skills, non-cognitive skills, people’s skills.

Why do you need it?

Both the market and industries are in a constant state of flux today! New technologies are evolving, niche companies and new business models are emerging, virtual workplaces are becoming new normal, and consumer behavior and buying patterns are shifting. With so much happening around, every business professional is in constant pressure to adapt to the ever raising velocity of change. This is where soft skills play a key role. Soft skills give you the strength to adapt quickly to changing situations. 

That’s why today, almost every job description (JD) you receive has a special column of soft skills. For instance, the desired trait in the JD of an HR role will include attention to detail’ and for a project management role‘ ‘time management’ or ‘problem-solving’ might be the most crucial skill. 

Here are some reasons which advocate the importance of having soft skills training:

  • Intimates your longevity at the workplace
  • Helps in proving your team-player spirit (very important for a lot of profiles)
  • Offers confidence in successfully managing client relationships 
  • Strengthens your networking opportunity
  • Helps you stay organized which results in increased productivity
  • Takes you closer to attain leadership roles

What is the major difference between soft skills and hard skills?

As mentioned, soft skills are more towards a person’s behavior and personality attributes, and that’s why soft skills are also called transferable skills (useful in multiple industries/ job roles/ professions). 

On the other hand, hard skills are more inclined towards the technical know-how of any specific profile which comes by education, certification, and/or training in a specific subject. 

For instance, having apt communication skills (soft skill) sounds logical for both a lawyer and a marketing guy, but what makes them different from each other is their hard skills – knowledge of law (and a degree in law) and marketing expertise, respectively.    

In a nutshell:

Soft Skill Hard Skills
Mostly common for all industries Industry-specific
Based on a person’s natural behavior  Based on a person’s profession and area of interest  
Learned through experience Learned through formal education,  experience, and training

 

Common Soft Skills Training Myth

Before we proceed to the most demanding soft skills, it is essential to debunk some common soft skill myths:

Myth 1 – The more the better!

Reality – Every role demands a different mix of soft skills.

Only having a big basket of soft skills will not make you a great professional. Instead, it depends upon a given job. For instance, if you are working as a collection officer, then having too much empathy will not match your profile because your role demands you to listen objectively and not engage emotionally. So depending upon your career profile, you need to identify the right set of soft skills. 

Myth 2 – It’s optional!

Reality – It is as primary/essential as hard skills. 

It is very hard to imagine a workplace that doesn’t give importance to ‘the ability to express clearly, work efficiently with a team, quickly solve the problem, and all other similar skills. If we completely exclude soft skills, the chances of hosting a bundle of negative/uncontrollable outcomes are very high. 

Myth 3 – People are born with soft skills!

Reality – It’s difficult to learn but not impossible.

A lot of research highlights that skills (like problem-solving, leadership, time management, etc.), which we think are personality-driven can be learned with the right guidance, training, practice, and patience. Like it’s said learning a soft skill is just like learning a hard skill because: 

“Every impossible or near to impossible thing is just a matter of starting a journey with a good companion or a goal”

Check out the list of most in-demand soft skills at the workplace:

Skill 1 – Communication

Be it oral, verbal, or non-verbal, having strong communication along with listening skills allows you to clearly express yourself at the workplace. And that’s why communication skill is one of the must-have skills for all (freshers as well as business leaders). 

Why do employers look for it?

Effective communication turns to be integral to any job because it:

  • Makes the task easy and quick at the workplace 
  • Acts as the foundation of compassionate and empathetic leadership

86% of corporate executives, employees, and educators say that ineffective communication is a big reason for failures in the workplace. – Source: Salesforce

Why Do You Need It?

Demerits of not having it

Helps in understanding information correctly hence builds your professional image Results in lack of confidence and misunderstanding at the workplace
Creates a positive work environment Increases workplace conflict and tension
Makes you a concise speaker hence upturns productivity Decreases productivity and performance
Helps in absorbing information hence aids in decision-making Loss of projects, clients, and/ deals

Signs of Poor Communication Skills:

  • Trouble in making eye contact
  • You lose attention quickly when others are quickly 
  • Make assumptions quickly
  • Your emotions overwhelm you during conversations
  • Not asking the right questions and speaking low

How to Improve Communication Skills?

Tips:

  • Concentrate on listening skills
  • Focus on non-verbal skills
  • Improve your questioning skills
  • Think twice before you speak

Recommended Courses 

Recommended Books and Ted Videos

  • Words that Work – Book by Dr. Frank Luntz
  • Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High – Book by Kerry Patterson
  • “10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation” – Ted Talk by Celeste Headlee (Watch here)

Skill 2 – Time Management, Task Management, and Productivity

The most common quote used in every business is ‘Time is Money’. People who are effective and productive at the workplace perform better than those who are unorganized and have poor scheduling skills, which makes it another best soft skill which recruiters look at. 

Why do employers look for it?

Strong time management skills turn to be integral to any job because it:

  • Helps in maximizing workplace productivity hence indirectly saves cost for businesses
  • Plays a critical role in  accomplishing key goals

As per the Society for Human Resource Management – 58% of employees say poor management is the biggest thing getting in the way of productivity. 

Why Do You Need It?

Demerits of not having it

Helps in identifying what you need to complete and by when.    Missed deadlines proving lack of professionalism
Makes a better planner hence you turn out to be the most responsible resource  Results in low quality work because you work in stress
Reduces last-minute stress and anxiety Poor work-life balance
Helps in absorbing information hence aids in decision-making Loss of projects, clients, and/ deals, leisure time, and opportunities

Signs of Unorganized People with Poor Time Management Skills:

You must work on time management skills if one or more of the following things are happening with you like: 

  • Suddenly missing meetings, calls, deadlines, schedules, etc. 
  • Always rushing and grumbling about things
  • Unable to prioritize or keep a track of time 
  • Always saying yes to things and doing everything by yourself 

How to Improve Time Management Skills?

Tips:

  • Break your work based on the GIST approach (Goals setting, Idea, Steps, Task)
  • Follow the Pomodoro technique (Watch here)
  • Make to-do lists 
  • Eliminate stress and practice meditation
  • Take planned breaks 

Recommended Courses 

Recommended Books and Ted Videos

  • The New One Minute Manager a book by Ken Blanchard
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change a book by Stephen R. Covey
  • How to Gain Control of Your Free Time by Laura Vanderkam (Watch here)

Skill 3: Learning to Learn

Yes, learning to learn is another skill that most employers seek in their potential leaders and managers. With schools and colleges over and now 9-5 jobs have become our foremost priority. That has taken a lot of professionals away from learning. It is said that the day when you think you are perfect, is the day when you put a full stop on learning, which affects your long term growth. That’s why learning has now turned out to be an imperative skill. 

Why do employers look for it?

  • Receptive professionals adapt quickly to dynamic situations 
  • It promotes the idea of innovation and trying things in different ways

Why Do You Need It?

Demerits of not having it

Makes effective, adaptable, and dynamic Creates the illusion of competency hence blocking career growth/ performance
Prepares us for the adverse environment Takes you away from becoming a leader and making effective decisions at the right time
Open our brains to recondition and accept challenges  Hinders your ability to open up for change

Signs that you are lacking the skill:

If one or more things are happening with you, it’s clear that you need to work on this skill:

  • You feel comfortable with what you know (and never think of taking up anything new)
  • Your peers are performing better than you 
  • You feel demotivated and always try to run from the situation, people, and/or jobs
  • You don’t compare your current performance with previous and set the coming goals

How to become a constant learner?

Tips:

  • Treat challenges as opportunities and find ways to overcome 
  • Stay away from procrastination (the act of postponing and delaying)   
  • Dedicate time to learn something new and practice the same to transfer this into a memory 
  • Take feedbacks positively, learn with an open mind, 
  • While learning focus on the process instead of the end result (because when you implement things correctly, end goals will be attained)
  • Ask questions and don’t settle quickly

Recommended Courses 

Recommended Books and Ted Videos

  • Screw It Let’s Do It: Lessons in Life – A book by Richard Branson
  • Learning how to learn – Tedx Talk by Barbara Oakley (watch here)

Skill 4 – Contextual Intelligence

One-size-fits-all is a story of the past. Now businesses need people who can think beyond normal techniques and have basic technical skills. The demand for people having strong contextual intelligence is growing with each passing day. It has gone beyond “knowing what to do” and now the industry needs professionals who know what will work and what will not! 

Contextual intelligence is the ability to practically implement the knowledge and deal with real-world situations based on the culture and context of the specific setting. 

Why do employers look for it?

  • Despite AI and Machine, Learning technologies are moving at a fast pace, human minds will be needed for emotional judgment, critical thinking, and decision making
  • It grounds the basics foundation of strategizing and streamlining workflow

Why Do You Need It?

Demerits of not having it

Most-sought after skill in leadership roles Results in a mental block as you can’t think beyond
Improves judgments & making informed decisions Will make you replaceable (sooner or later)

Signs that you are lacking the skill:

If one or more things are happening with you, it’s clear that you need to work on this skill when you :

  • Miss common sense  
  • Apply management processes uniformly and don’t think beyond
  • Miss out on the local realities
  • Don’t like changes

How to become a contextually intelligent person?

Tips:

  • Determine the basic characteristics of any task you do
  • Understand the process context, details, and logic behind what is happening in front of you
  • Put yourself in other’s shoes like think from the customer’s mind

Recommended Courses 

Recommended Books and Ted Videos

  • Contextual Intelligence: How Thinking in 3D Can Help Resolve Complexity, Uncertainty, and Ambiguity a book by Matthew Kutz

Skill 5 – Teamwork and collaboration

With offices moving to homes, teamwork and collaboration skills are now of utmost importance. Also, this is among the most popular transferable skills because it is applicable in every industry, regardless of the role you play in the organization.

Why do employers look for it?

  • It relates to the overall productivity and efficiency of the team/company
  • It helps in maintaining a healthy environment at the workplace

Why Do You Need It?

Demerits of not having it

Keeps you motivated, and you willingly work harder, cooperate and support others Reduces the chance of learning new things and look at things from another’s perspective
Gives you a chance to look at differing perspectives and get open feedbacks Won’t be successive in the long run, you cannot manage everything on your own 
Creates a competitive edge to accomplish goals and objectives Gives fewer opportunities to brainstorm

Signs that you are lacking the skill:

If one or more things are happening with you, it’s clear that you need to work on this skill when you :

  • You only think about your work
  • You blame others for every bad thing happening
  • Do not contribute to the team 
  • Feel lack of trust 

How to become a team player?

Tips:

  • Communicate and express your opinions ideas with others
  • Take an extra mile to meet your assigned duties and never miss deadlines
  • Stay away from conflicts and don’t take anything personally

Recommended Courses 

Recommended Books and Ted Videos

  • The 5 Dysfunctions Of A Team a book by Patrick Lencioni 
  • The power of collaboration – Watch here 
  • A conservative’s plea: Let’s work together Ted talk by Arthur Brooks – Watch here 

The Parting Note – Talking about Soft Skills Training in Your Resume and Interview

Unlike hard skills, you don’t have much to prove about which soft skills you ace. And for successfully selling your soft skills and prove yourself different from other candidates you must showcase the soft skills training certifications you hold. 

However, just by saying you are a team player or have excellent communication skills, it is important to convince others that you really have it by backing your soft skills training with instances. You can also mention the online soft skill training courses that you have taken.

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