5 important soft skills that managers need and how to develop them

Modern workplaces require an inspiring and stimulating environment both for employees and bosses. That’s why it is becoming increasingly important to learn how to treat company employees properly and adapt to their personality type. A successful project depends on the manager’s interpersonal skills that will be the driving force of the team, raise team members’ self-confidence and push them in the right direction.

Even though every manager has to have the right knowledge to delegate tasks to people who are capable of delivering high-quality results, it is important to achieve them without additional stress and pressure.

In the LinkedIn Global Talent Trends report from 2019, 92% of managers who, among other things, employ people claim that social (soft) skills are equally important or even more important than technical skills and knowledge.

Just as successfully delegating tasks is a skill that can be learned over time, it is necessary to set the right tone of communication with the employees. If some of them feel humiliated, demoralized or if their knowledge is insufficiently valued in the workplace, productivity and motivation can drop significantly, and the achieved result can be below average.

According to Hay Group research, team productivity can increase by up to 30% if managers use their soft skills to motivate team members, help them feel they are contributing to the team and add value to the project with their skills.

According to a Harvard Business Review survey, two out of five directors fail in the first 18 months at work. The problem is that it is not enough to have knowledge and experience in the industry, but also the relationship with the team is important, how they perceive their superiors and whether they instill confidence in them.

Every leader, manager or employee must work on improving their skills and knowledge, but also work on communication techniques and conveying messages in a clear and concise way, which is one of the main tasks if he wants to successfully lead a team. In the text below, we present some of the most important social skills that differentiate a good manager from a great one, and what are the ways to reach them.

1. Cooperation with the team

If you don’t learn how to cooperate with others or if it’s too difficult for you, it’s likely that people who are on your team won’t cooperate neither with each other nor with you. Given the leadership position in the team, you need to inspire others to openly and freely make suggestions, actively participate in projects, and seek creative solutions to problems they encounter.

It is especially important that they have the freedom to point out reiterative mistakes which can significantly affect the result of the project or the mood of the team.

You can achieve this by communicating openly with the team, instead of trying to fix the problem on your own. Transparency, addressing the problem and willingness to participate in the discussion are three key factors when building trust in a team. Transparent leadership is something that shows the team that you value their opinion and expect them to be honest with you as well. This will help them develop autonomy and talk more openly about their own goals for the future, because when you know where they want to be within a certain time frame, it is much easier to create a plan and strategy that will enable them to achieve that goal. Be open to suggestions, but also be ready to welcome them if it turns out that it will benefit the project. Furthermore, suggestions foster innovation and creativity of the team.

2. Communication

Sometimes it can happen that not all people understand what their tasks are, even though you think you have explained everything exactly how you wanted it. However, when they do their part of the job, it is clear that they have not understood what their job was and that there are things that need to be fixed. The question now is whether the project will be completed on time, and that could have been prevented if there had not been a blockage in communication.

How to improve communication? If you do not understand someone else’s ideas clearly enough, ask them to provide additional information so you don’t have to think twice when the project is under way. In the old-fashioned business environment, communication between the employees was an easy way to determine hierarchy, dynamics, and the organization in the workplace. In today’s jobs, every member of the team needs to know what his duties and obligations are, but also feel like a professional who can contribute to the realization of the project with his skills.

In addition to what people tell you, pay attention to non-verbal communication – whether they frown, cross their arms and look at the phone or the watch too often. Non-verbal communication is any type of communication that does not include words. If they don’t understand what you’re talking about, they will most likely make a face or look at their colleagues to see if they understand. Engineer Albert Mehrabian, who researched verbal and nonverbal communication, says that the basic elements of communication are 55% non-verbal communication, 38% the tone of our voice and only 7% what is actually said.

It can be gestures, facial expressions, physical distance, eye contact, touch..these are just some of the ways employees can get the message across. If you see they gaze off into the distance while answering your questions half-smiling or looking at the floor, it is clear that there is something bothering them, even though they did not specifically let you know what was going on.

You should not accuse them of not listening to you, but try to explain in a simpler way what they want them to do. If you need to employ technical terminology, you are expected to use a vocabulary that is accurate and precise, but explanations need to be understandable even to those who may have just joined the team.

In order for communication to be effective and the conversation to be constructive, it is necessary to acquire the skill of active listening. By actively listening to your interlocutor, pay attention to what he is saying, and you can repeat the main topics he mentions as he speaks to make it easier for you to grasp the key concepts. Don’t think too much about the correct answer to the question, but ask additional questions to make sure you are on the same page. For example, if someone complains about too many tasks, the solution is not to tell them to organize their time better, but to go through the tasks together and see if there is room to transfer them to someone or break them down into parts. Wait for the person to finish with their speech, and try to avoid unnecessary interrupting, especially if the situation is emotional and requires you to listen carefully.

3. Giving feedback

Today, giving constructive criticism or criticism in general is a difficult task. Just as many people’s comments can be too harsh, it is difficult for some people to admit they’ve made a mistake.

So, be careful when giving feedback, because you don’t want to get into conflict or argue with team members. Conflicts can never be constructive and have a deeper meaning except to negatively affect the atmosphere in the office. They are just a way for the situation to escalate, for there to be an unpleasant silence and for the whole team to become nervous.

Like we said, you need to talk less and listen more to the people around you. The solution isn’t to just give them more assignments. If you know what problems they face when completing their daily tasks, it will be easier for you to look at the scope of work from their perspective.

It is important to tailor the feedback to the type of person you are working with. Feedback does not always have to be positive, but it can have a positive connotation. Expressing your opinion in a constructive way is the essence of soft skills. Those more ambitious team members will respond better to the bigger challenges you set for them and when you praise them in front of the whole team, while more creative members will probably respond better to the praise or criticism they receive in 1-on-1 meetings, where they can suggest new ideas and give feedback. about the project.

4. Empathy

People at work are not robots but people with real feelings and lives. Empathy as an interpersonal skill is especially important when someone new joins a team, when there is uncertainty about how they will fit into the team, and whether it will be uncomfortable if they don’t know something. Therefore, one should be aware that there are introverted and extroverted people who need to take their time and slowly become part of the team. It is important that they feel that their opinion is important and that they contribute to the project.

There will always be situations where you can’t be completely objective, perhaps a colleague with whom you spend more time at work, or a story that is similar to yours and affects you emotionally. Your objectivity at work can also be affected by various differences in the lifestyles you and your colleagues lead or something completely irrelevant such as the way they dress, without you even knowing it because it is in your subconscious. In that case, it may be better to look for another opinion, to know that you’ve made the right decision. This is a completely common phenomenon, but you need to be aware of that behavior and recognize the situations in which that behavior occurs so that you can decide how objective you actually are.

Empathy develops when you learn about it, but also work on yourself. Critically observe how you behave in certain situations, and whether you could have done something differently, not to get upset about something that has already happened, but to opt for a different approach when a similar situation arises. Try volunteering, read books that will motivate you to think about your behavior and how it actually affects those around you, and talk to friends or family about what is happening to you at the workplace.

5. Time organization

The key to efficient business is good time management. Managers are there to organize their team’s time, but not at the cost of having too many tasks and drowning in work.

Good time management increases your productivity and reliability, and it should have the same effect on the whole team. If the team is already too busy, it is better to think twice about the new project and if it’s actually worth it. The most important thing is to be realistic, and to see what the real situation is before you give your team new tasks. Of course, a company needs to grow, but first you need to create conditions and the environment for that to happen.

There are 3 ways to help you organize your time better.

  1. Determine the time you will spend on a particular task and stick to it. If you think that 2 hours is enough to finish a task or even the whole project, try not to prolong that time period, because it is an immediate sign to the brain for the next time that there is a way to negotiate and not do what is needed for the allotted time. For better time management, you can use a software to help you know exactly when you started and finished the task.
  2. Start with the most important and extensive tasks. The reason is simple – when you come to work or just start a project, your energy and concentration are at the highest level. When you are done with a big project, the feeling of fulfillment because you managed to finish it will motivate you to do other tasks faster and in an organized way.
  3. The GTD method (Getting Things Done) is a method where you need to write down the tasks, projects and goals you need to achieve for a certain period of time. When you have a list or visually separated items on it in front of you, it helps to get a clearer picture and create a strategy that you need to implement in order to have control over the time necessary to get the task done in the shortest possible time.

Conclusion

Every good leader inspires. Better collaboration with the team, communication, giving feedback, more empathy and a different organization of time can make a big difference in the results the team makes. When people are satisfied with the workplace, the atmosphere and the challenges that motivate them in the workplace, it will be much easier to work together as a team to achieve business goals.

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