In our previous article on soft skills, we discussed the soft skills needed for success, and their importance. This time, we discuss how we can make hard measurements of soft skills. As we increasingly start to see the value of soft skills, we find that people want to be able to quantify which team members have the 'right' soft skills to excel and contribute fully.
We are often vague about the issues we face regarding soft skills. With hard skills, we know that being told we need to improve our Excel skills means we should go take a Microsoft Excel course. However, imagine if your supervisor told you:
"You need to become more of a people-person."
What does that even mean? Do you have to smile more? Should you start taking up classes on how to be a better conversationalist? Do you have an attitude problem? Do all your colleagues secretly hate your guts and aren't telling you? It can be very difficult to identify the exact problem with your 'people-person' skills. You might be left confused, frustrated, and wracking your brain for the answer could leave you looking like this!
This is why, first and foremost, you have to identify the specific, exact thing that is not working about how you deal with people. You can delve into figuring out if it's your emotional intelligence that needs improving in terms of receiving people's message to you, or if it's that you actually do understand them, but have difficulty being tactful in your response. After uncovering the problem, identify who it shows up with - is it with your clients, your colleagues, your supervisors, or is it all of the above? Take note of when and why the issue crops up as well. Once you pinpoint what the issue is, you can then work on it by practicing that specific aspect with fellow team members.
The second step is to determine what you want the end goal to be by tracking the skills with a meaningful measure and time frame. If the lack of interpersonal skills is affecting your ability to lead your team members to meet deadlines, use the speed of completion of certain reports and projects to measure improvement. Of course, learning and developing soft skills don't happen overnight like magic. You can't just wave a wand around and hope something happens.
However, by tracking it over months, you will be able to observe changes, fluctuations, and eventually, results.
Now that Alvigor has equipped you with the awareness of the importance of soft skills, and the tools you need to identify and track these skills, try it yourself!