The soft skills workers and managers need most
Between the shift to a more flexible remote work model, employees quitting their jobs left and right (i.e. the Great Quit), and rising burnout, it’s safe to say that many Many changes are happening in the workplace right now. Soft skills can help navigate these changes and create a safe and inclusive work environment where everyone thrives.
In case you didn’t know, hard skills are the job-specific technical skills you need to, well, do your job – think project management, writing, programming, accounting, etc. On the other hand, soft skills include interpersonal skills which focus on how people interact and communicate with others. Although soft skills are not usually listed in the requirements of a job description, they are equally important in any workplace, for both workers and managers.
Below, Kim Crowder, DEI expert and founder of Council Kim Crowderand Jenny Maenpaa, LCSW, EdM, the creator of the evidence-based workplace wellness program Fireworksshare the soft skills that workers and managers should focus on bringing to the workplace right now.
3 soft skills workers should focus on fluency
1. Trust the views of others
According to Crowder, one of the most important soft skills to embody in the workplace is trusting others’ perspectives on their own experiences. “This is especially important when it comes to believing the experiences, emotions and interpretations of those who have been historically ignored. [such as BIPOC, LGBTQ, and disabled communities]Crowder says. “It empowers each of us to move away from asking people who already bear the burden of discrimination to prove that they are victims of it and, instead, to trust them and validate their experiences.”
2. Pay attention to your emotions
“Many employees think they should be emotionless robots at work, but your emotions can actually be beneficial if you can apply them strategically,” says Maenpaa. To do this, she recommends being more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors so you can better recognize if you’re reacting to a work situation inappropriately or if something else is clouding your judgment. Before you respond to someone, she suggests taking a moment to pause, take a few deep breaths, connect with your body, and release any tension.
3. Learn to take criticism constructively
Receiving feedback is an important part of any job, and Maenpaa says learning to accept constructive criticism without feeling like your value or worth is under attack is key. However, she adds, this may be easier said than done. Her advice: “Remembering that these criticisms are made with the intention of learning and growing can help you not see them as personal failures.
3 Soft Skills Managers Should Model at Work
1. Humanize team members
With low retention rates and high turnover rates right now, Crowder says it’s a manager’s job to recognize when employees are pulling back and do their best to re-engage them. “Employees are not just a means to an end or a pathway to productivity; they are human beings worthy of respect and individual attention,” she says.
Additionally, she adds that part of humanizing employees also involves staying tuned to what is happening in the world, as many employees feel the brunt of these social injustices in their daily lives. “Managers who are aware of current events can offer support without team members having to ask for it,” she says.
2. Regulate your emotions and help others do the same
In addition to managing their employees, Maenpaa explains that managers must also manage their emotions at work. “[Remember] that even though others come to you with a sense of urgency, most tasks are not urgent,” she says. “They can be timely or important, but rushing to respond to something will induce feelings of panic, which will make your employees feel panicked and rushed.” Instead, before responding, she recommends pausing, assessing the urgency of the task, taking a deep breath, and thinking about how the task fits into your larger ecosystem.
Maenpaa adds that managers can also help their employees regulate their emotions by using the “yes and” strategy to validate their feelings while redirecting them to action. For example, “when an employee complains and your first instinct is to jump to a solution, remember that most people just want to feel seen and heard,” she says. “Take a few minutes to quietly listen to their complaints and then say something like, ‘I hear you. Since we still have to meet this deadline, what can we do to make it less frustrating for you? »
3. Make cultural competence a priority
For managers, Crowder says integrating cultural competency into the workplace is vital now and moving forward. “Our workplaces are becoming increasingly global and diverse, two elements necessary for the sustainability of any organization,” she says. “Managers need to be very aware that cultural differences will naturally show up. Being sensitive and seeing the value in it without asking individuals to assimilate or conform to the dominant culture is a golden skill for any leader.
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