Can soft skills be taught?
A positive attitude, a strong work ethic, an innovative mindset, being a team player – are just as important to employers as practical skills and academic background.
It is important to have teams of people who have the hard skills to do a job – i.e. they’re qualified, have relevant experience, can write code, design a product, etc.
However, if they lack the soft skills required to get along with colleagues, work well with clients, stay motivated and engaged, etc. then they may not turn out to be effective employees.
While it’s true that certain soft skills are difficult for people to learn, they are not impossible to teach. Firms can start by offering well rounded training opportunities to staff. For example, if staff need to practice their public speaking skills and develop confidence in presenting, you can help them to build their skills by asking them to lead internal team meetings.
The company culture and work environment you establish as a manager can also play a huge role in encouraging (or discouraging) the development of soft skills. If you want employees to work hard and collaborate with each other, you first need to show them how.
If you and your management team show your team how to work together effectively, these positive behaviours will permeate the rest of the team and become part of the culture of the firm.
The best way to learn and develop soft skills is by ‘doing’. Show your people what you want them to do, set the right example and give them the opportunity to practice their soft skills in their day to day jobs. You can also supplement this by hiring people who possess the right soft skills for your business.
By having more people in your firm with good soft skills, there will be more opportunities for your other team members to learn.