5 Soft Skills That Will Improve Your Team’s Performance

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Applicants for new jobs focus on their core skills when they post for a job, but what about their soft skills? These skills help a person succeed in the workplace in terms of commitment, collaboration, communication and other areas beyond their functional skills. Here are 5 skills that you as the leader can coach your employees to achieve greater success.

Few people actually enjoy micromanaging–whether you are giving or receiving it!
As your team becomes more independent, they will be able to work with minimal hand-holding. This does not mean that each team member acts like a lone wolf, but rather that each member feels confident enough to work on his or her own. Independence extends to independent thinking as well. Leaders can coach their employees to think creatively. Greater independence also encourages problem-solving ability. If Jasmine’s boss encourages her natural independent streak, she will feel more comfortable solving problems on her own, instead of seeking out approval or feedback for every decision.

A person can have a brilliant idea, but that idea is worthless unless she can communicate it effectively. Your employees must be able to share ideas and information clearly and concisely amongst themselves and other coworkers. This is not to say that each of your employees must be a natural orator and gifted writer, however. Eugene is great at delivering presentations, but struggles to compile his material; Li hates giving presentations, but excels at writing them. Their manager decided to combine their strengths and have them tag-team all demos and presentations for their projects, helping both of them to get better at their weaknesses.

Employees who are naturally curious will also be self-motivated, creative, and engaged. These individuals want to know more–more about the industry, more about the project, more about the people around them – more about everything. Curious workers tend to be persistent as well, staying motivated in their quest to discover solutions for any problems they encounter. Curiosity begets innovation, and that benefits everyone on your team. For instance, Merida’s boss, Stefan, noticed that she was completing tasks more efficiently than his other reports. When he asked her about this, Merida explained that she noticed several redundancies in the process she’d been trained to use, so she developed and implemented a revised system that kept her work quality at the same level, while increasing efficiency by 46 percent. Stefan smartly decided that the entire team should use Merida’s system.

Time Management
This skill is absolutely crucial in the workplace of today. Workers who are unable to successfully juggle all of their duties are a drain on your company’s performance. Thankfully, this is a soft skill that can be learned. Improving time management skills can also be an opportunity to nurture potential leaders in your organization. Employees who are great time managers can take bigger leadership roles by helping their team members who struggle with time management, enabling everyone to accomplish more. When Tiana saw that her co-worker Charlotte seemed overwhelmed by their workload, she offered to help Charlotte adjust her project schedule. Tiana quickly saw that Charlotte had blocked off too little time for value-added data analysis and too much time for compiling reports. After adjusting the schedule, the entire team was back on track.

How well do you know yourself? Do you understand how people see you? You can’t fix a problem or capitalize on an asset unless you know about it. Leaders must be self-aware enough to take advantage of their strengths and address their weaknesses. With self-awareness comes self-reflection: awareness is knowing, reflection is understanding. Leaders who are open to self-reflection will be open to addressing any issues they might have. Likewise, employees who are self-aware will be able to handle constructive feedback. For example, Naveen is the top salesperson in his company, but he is self-aware enough to understand that he needs to work on his time management skills without having to be told.

Some of these skills are innate, while others can be learned. However, each of these skills can be developed, nurtured, and improved. Your job as a leader is to help your team improve their functional skills, and their soft skills that will help them in every facet of their lives. These five are a great place to begin.

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