In case you missed it, please see part one, two, and three of our “soft skills” series, as we now move into the final installment: business results. Why are these important when training soft skills?
4. Not directly tied to business outcomes
We’ve now clearly defined the soft skills we’re interested in and put a system in place for measurement that is appropriate for our specific, unique culture. The hard work, however, is just beginning. As soon as you bring such a system to measure soft skills to the organization as a whole, I’m sure you can easily imagine the pushback that could result from all levels of the company. Communication, leadership, collaboration, time management… Why are we focusing on defining, measuring, and training these things when the return on investment (ROI) is unclear, uncertain, and not guaranteed? Why am I taking time from producing concrete outcomes to talk about this fluff?
A common struggle with soft skills is exactly that: they are often not immediately and clearly linked to the business outcomes that motivate most people at work. How do my communication skills lead to more profitability? How does good leadership result in greater customer satisfaction and more sales? And if these connections are unclear, why should we be putting training dollars and time into developing soft skills? This leaves us in a place where the organization doesn’t see the value of these skills. And because of this, resources are less likely to be allocated to what, essentially, becomes just another “pet project”, typically being pushed by human resource professionals rather than the employees or leaders being impacted by these skill deficits.
Obtaining buy-in on soft skills from all levels is important. Organization leaders have to want to invest in developing these skills. Management has to want to reinforce and devote time and resources to these skills. And employees have to want to engage in and appreciate these skills as part of their daily lives at work.
How do to do better in business?
And this, friends, is where we end our soft skills journey – we can’t give the whole thing away! But please keep an eye out for our upcoming book, Embracing Soft Skills with Hard Science, to continue this analysis, or contact us for ways we can help you define, measure, collect data on, and evaluate further the “soft skills” of your team.