The Top 10 Soft Skills Every Business Needs
Soft Skills are some of the most important skills any business can have – but lots of people don’t even know what they are.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are skills we all have naturally and use every day without thinking about it.
They are things like the communication skills that help us to form strong relationships with others, and they’re the analytical skills that help us to understand information and solve problems.
We use soft skills all the time, however that doesn’t mean they can’t be improved upon.
Making the decision to improve soft skills in your business will benefit everything from customer service to productivity to staff satisfaction.
But where should you start?
Here are the top 10 soft skills that every business needs.
Without doubt listening is the most important skill that anyone can have when it comes to business.
Knowing how to listen to people properly ensures you have accurate information and understand the situation. Without these two things any further actions are more likely to end badly.
Listening is also vital in building strong relationships.
We’ve all been in conversations where we know the other person isn’t listening. It’s demoralising and it certainly doesn’t make you like the other person.
If you want to build strong relationships with customers, stakeholders, and colleagues then listening is the first step. That’s why it is the most important soft skill any business can have.
Talking is how you get what’s in your head out to the rest of the world so it’s important to do it right.
Because talking is something that comes to naturally to us it can be hard to think critically about the way we do it – but it’s important that we do. Mistakes and bad habits can significantly damage our ability to build strong relationships and do well in business.
Being able to talk clearly and confidently will make people want to listen to what you have to say so developing your skills in this area can be highly beneficial.
3. Problem Solving
At the most basic level almost every business service is problem solving in one form or another.
On a personal level problem solving skills are important as they help you and your team to get your work done as effectively as possible.
One of the good things about problem solving is that compared to some of other other soft skills on this list it is quite easy to practice.
Anything that requires you to think laterally like games and puzzles can help to boost your problem-solving ability.
4. Team Working
Team working is important as not only does it help to get jobs done – it makes the people working together in that team happier.
We’ve all worked in places where we haven’t got on well with our collegues and it can really damage our ability to do work.
Making sure the people in your business have good team working skills can prevent that from happening.
At a managerial level, there are any number of courses you can go on to improve your team building and team working skills.
For the wider business when it comes to improving team working skills nothing beats a good old fashioned team building day. Get some ideas on our blog about the best team building days.
When you’re in work, especially if you own a business, it’s easy to fall into the trap of keeping your head down and ploughing through as much work as possible.
This is understandable when you’re busy, but it doesn’t necessarily result in the most efficient use of your time.
If you can take a minute to sit back and observe, especially once you become better at observation, you will be able to see problems before they develop into something bigger, and straighten out any bottlenecks in your work flow.
Also, while we know communication is important that doesn’t mean everyone is good at it. If you have staff, learning how to observe them can help you spot any issues they might have even if they’re not good at communicating them to you directly.
6. Conflict Resolution
Conflict is inevitable in a work environment. In this context conflict doesn’t necessarily mean nasty, personal arguing, but rather any disagreement two people have when working.
It could be as simple as having two different ideas about what the next marketing campaign should be, or it could be deciding out of two sales people who gets a big lead that comes in.
Having good conflict resolution skills will mean that a) when these differences of opinion occur that they can be resolved quickly and b) the dispute can be resolved amicably so both parties can carry on working together happily and effectively.
There’s no point trying to stop people disagreeing – it’s just human nature. What you do have control over is how well issues are resolved.
7. Responsibility and Accountability
Learning to be responsible is an important part of business life. When something goes wrong it is much better to own up to it and move on than to waste time and effort trying to find some other explanation for the problem.
Allowing yourself to be accountable is also an important part of the previous skill of conflict resolution.
If after a disagreement you realise it is you who has made an error or has the less effective idea, being accountable and accepting the outcome is vital in being able to move on and work together effectively in the future.
One thing that can help people who work for you to be more responsible and accountable is to have a fair and even tempered management style.
People will be happier to be accountable for issues that arise if they know that management will not punish them severely or unreasonably for honest mistakes.
Accountability is as much about business culture as it is about your personal skill set.
8. Emotional Intelligence and Empathy
Without emotional intelligence and empathy communication would be worthless.
When someone delivers a piece of news to us it is our emotional intelligence and empathy that helps us to interpret whether they are happy or sad about that piece of news and allows us to react accordingly.
The more finely tuned our empathy skills become and the more we can relate to the other people around us, which in turn helps team work and productivity.
It means that when you see that a colleague is stressed because of high work load you can offer to help, or instinctively knowing if someone isn’t happy with your idea for the business and knowing you should talk to them.
Emotional intelligence is also important to help us understand our own emotions. The better your become at identifying when you’re angry, excited, tired or stressed the more able you are to stop these emotions interfering with good decision making.
For example, if you become good at noticing when you’re angry you’ll know not to make any decisions until you’ve calmed down. Similarly, you’ll know if you’re excited about a new idea to sleep on it before jumping in with both feet.
Having the emotional intelligence to understand you own emotions will stop you from making bad decisions in the heat of the moment.
9. Management Skills
Being a good manager means more than being able to delegate work. It means being able to build a team you know and trust well enough to do the job without your constant supervision, and empowering them to work effectively and happily.
According to studies around 50% of people who leave jobs do so because of their managers. This goes to show that management skills and management style are hugely influential on staff satisfaction and in turn on the overall productivity level in the business.
If you want people to be happier, stay at your company longer, and be more productive, working on management skills is a good place to start.
As soft skills go mentoring is one of the more difficult to develop, as it’s one of the few we don’t get to do on a regular basis.
In fact, unless you’re a teacher it’s something you might only do a handful of times in your life. However, mentoring is an incredibly important responsibility so it’s important to have good mentoring skills.
When mentoring a younger team member, it’s important to work at a pace and a level that is good for them. You don’t want the learning process to be too hard or too fast so that it puts them off, but at the same time it needs to be challenging enough to keep them engaged.
This is a delicate process that will come easier in time, and will also become easier as you develop other soft skills like listening, empathy and management skills.
How we can help
At alldayPA we provide telephone answering services that help businesses handle their phone lines. We’re a business that is built around good people with great communications skills.
Our PA’s are trained to be good listeners and good communicators which makes them perfect for managing difficult calls like customer service and complaints, and technical calls like calls to engineers.
To find out how alldayPA can help your business to communicate better, to to us about call answering today.