Soft Skills: Back To Basics

No matter where you are at in your career; it is the soft skills that you bring to the work environment that can make the difference. From front-line workers to CEOs, there are core foundational workplace skills that every employee needs to embrace and improve upon. Skills such as self-awareness, time management, and digital etiquette are just a couple examples of the skills that each of us need to possess in order to thrive in the world of work. 

The jobs that are here today may not be here in 20 years. The company you work at now could go out of business tomorrow. Perhaps you have a major life event that requires you to take your career in a different direction. Regardless of the circumstance, the world of work is ever changing, which is why it is important that we all recognize what soft skills are and the role they play in our professional success.

Basic Doesn't Mean Simple

Just because we consider something a 'basic' skill doesn't make it an easy skill to master. Unfortunately, it may not even be as 'common sense' as one might think. Everything we do from eating, talking, and yes, even how we approach work - are all learned behaviors. Many people have been fortunate to have excellent models in their lives that effectively taught them most of those basic skills. But, what about those people who were not as lucky? Is the best outcome giving up on them, or is it taking the time to help? Sometime the most basic skills, like communication and setting healthy boundaries, are the hardest skills to master because different situations call for different approaches. So those that see the world in more black and white, may not have the natural ability to adapt as easily as others. 

Know What To Look For

When you experience a conflict at work or are witness to a situation that leaves your wondering how the offender didn't know that was inappropriate, pause and try to consider the basic skill that the person may need some help with. Maybe they made a mistake and placed blame on others, or they made excuses - in both the instances, you are looking at a lack of personal accountability. When you are able to bring the basic skill into the equation, you are better prepared to find a resolution and can see opportunity for an honest and productive conversation about the actual issue and set clearer future expectations.

Focus On Daily Actions

Skills and habits are two very different things. Habits are things we do every day, sometimes unknowingly - like biting your nails or the order in which you open programs on your computer before starting your day. Skills on the other hand are things we have learned and developed over time. By focusing on your daily actions and how situations and results are impacted by skills such as cooperation, follow-through, and integrity, you will be able to get a clearer picture of how those basics skills make a difference and where your strengths and weaknesses are. You are in control of your career, and if you take your work seriously and strive to be the best you can be, there is no limit to how far you can go. 

Adapt To Your Environment

Every company, every department, and every team member has different expectations in regards to things like acceptable behavior and personal appearance. Since it is unlikely that you will remain in any one job or work with the same people for the entirety of your career, you must be willing and able to adapt to your surroundings. There are of course, zero tolerance behaviors everywhere you go such as violence, hate speech, and dishonesty that will never be tolerated - but most of the basic skills that we all need have varying levels of acceptance depending on the situation. For example, some departments may be pretty lax on things like socializing while on the job or cell phone use at work, while others may be less accepting of those distractions. To be successful in the long-term, you must be able to be nimble and step back to assess your environment and adjust your approach.

We Are All Teachers AND Students

We are all works in progress, and we live in a society where social expectations are constantly evolving. This means that we all must be willing to both provide and accept feedback. It doesn't matter if you are on the giving or receiving end of the feedback, the best approach is to recognize that feedback is being provided because people care enough to help. It is almost always given with pure intention, even if the delivery was off (maybe the giver could use some guidance on communication). The bottom line is that we will be working on these skills throughout our lives, we need them to be successful, and that means we all must be lifelong teachers and students.

Please join us in future articles as we breakdown a number of basic skills and specifically outline on how each one impacts work. 

If you are ready to work with a staffing partner that gets the importance of soft skills, contact us today.