Recruiting and hiring decisions often hinge on hard skills and real life experience that indicate a candidate’s prowess in performing certain tasks, operating machinery and equipment, leveraging technology and so on. Soft skills are harder to measure, but may be even more beneficial to your professional success and the growth of your business.
3 Soft Skills that Strengthen Teams
Growing a business usually means adding people to the team that have experience and education that is directly related to the tasks and responsibilities they will be completing on the job, or which is indirectly related but considered transferable; that is, their knowledge and work history shows that they can adapt and learn what a new employer needs them to do. Based on a candidate’s resume and interview it’s usually fairly easy determine whether they have the direct or transferable skills you are looking for. It’s more difficult to determine whether the soft skills that they bring to the table are the ones that will make your team better, but you can discover them if you know what to look for.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are personal attributes that enable and improve an individual’s ability to interact effectively with other people. Soft skills are probably being utilized all around you, every day. They are in use when sales people are negotiating, when co-workers are sharing problems and sympathizing with one another, when customer service pros are interpreting and resolving customer complaints, when team members are brainstorming, weighing options and dividing up responsibilities, and so on.
How can you uncover soft skills during the hiring process?
The things a candidate has done in school and on the job reveal their hard skills; the outcomes they have achieved, the route they took to get there, and even the words they use to describe situations about their interactions with colleagues and customers can help you uncover their soft skills.
3 Soft Skills and the Teams that Need Them
Having the ability to accurately determine what a person is feeling and considering a situation from their point of view can be a serious advantage for sales, customer service and human resources. While we often associate it as a key skill for the two latter teams, it’s not uncommon to find a sales team filled with less-than-empathetic individuals bent on getting to “yes” with a client, sometimes by any means possible. Sales teams might actually get to “yes” faster when they employ empathy to uncover a prospects real objections and concerns, which often go unstated.
In truth, there aren’t many roles in a business where empathy will not be an asset and so is desirable in most candidates. While it might be a plus for any candidate, it should be a must for managers.
Academic research brought to bear on the impact of having women on teams revealed an impressive truth; teams with women perform better because women score higher on the metric of average social sensitivity. What this translates to – in essence – is the equivalent of mind-reading in business. Social sensitivity makes women more able to pick up on and decipher non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, body language, tone, etc.
With intuition, employees can get to the real issues more quickly, but they can also better understand the motivation, mindset and outcomes that can help in negotiations and resolving conflicts. Intuition is the soft skill that leads to win-win situations, and it’s a soft skill that can propel sales, customer service, human resources, and teams responsible for product development and innovation farther, faster.
While this is not a treatise on the benefits of having women on your team, a University of Massachusetts Amherst study of 120 undergrad engineering students found that teams made up mostly of women or which had equal numbers of men and women performed better. In teams that did not have this balance, first-year female students were reluctant to contribute ideas and experienced higher levels of stress and anxiety. In teams where women were dominant or represented in roughly equal numbers to male counterparts, there was less stress, less anxiety and higher levels of contribution.
Most business owners understand why creating an environment where contributions – from any employee – are welcome can lead to business improvements, cost savings and innovations that help with growing a business more quickly. However, it’s not all that common to find a business where that atmosphere is present and maintained over time. If balance can be achieved merely by ensuring that both men and women are represented on a team, it seems like a no-brainer! Sales teams, product development teams, management teams and even department-to-department, bringing balance to the workforce could help you grow your business more quickly.
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