There is no cure and no improving of the world that does not begin with the individual himself. – C.G. Jung
So-called “soft skills” make a real difference to a company’s bottom line. A 2010 study of leaders in a variety of industries found that harsh, hard-driving, “results-at-all-costs” executives actually diminish the bottom line, while self-aware leaders with strong interpersonal skills deliver better financial performance. The key takeaway: Soft values drive hard results, and companies and their investors need to put more effort into evaluating the interpersonal strengths of potential leaders.
Since people development – i.e., helping employees develop soft skills – delivers real and tangible results, companies that invest in learning and development will also catalyze positive bottom-line results. Personal breakthroughs lead to organizational breakthroughs. Here are tips on how HR and talent directors can ensure that personal development is at the forefront of their business.
Realize that employees are your most critical asset.
As top executives begin to understand how critical people are as a business investment, training directors can help them understand how to put an increased value on soft skills. A common objection some executives have is, “What if I invest in this personal development, and then the employee leaves?” A good response is to pose another question: “What if you don’t develop your people, and they stay?” Be sure top executives know about associations, such as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Association of Learning Providers (ISA), that focus on how personal development can drive high performance in an organization and increase the status of a business.
Connect bottom-line results to people development initiatives.
A great reality check for top executives is research that substantiates the value of soft skills on profit margins and growth. It’s even better when the transformation that personal development catalyzes contributes to a healthier and happier environment. For instance, Insights Learning and Development was recently shortlisted as a top HR/learning and development supplier in the 2016 CIPD People Management Awards for helping an engineering and construction company, Technip, actually save lives.
Technip employees engage in demanding physical tasks, including lifting, rigging and working at heights. Insights worked with executives to develop a program that sharply reduced employee risk behavior and cut the frequency of recordable incidents almost in half — from 0.26 to 0.15 incidents out of every 200,000 hours worked. While organizations in other industries may not actually save lives, there are ways to measure the benefits of better teams and higher self-awareness. Uncover those connections, and share them far and wide.
Demonstrate how individual success is linked to organizational success.
Encourage your employees to bring their “whole selves” to work. Foster authenticity; acknowledge that every person is unique; and provide tailored, individualized talent development opportunities.
These techniques will increase the effectiveness of your teams, giving your organization an undeniable edge. A team’s collective abilities are the sum of not only each individual’s strengths and weaknesses, but of a group’s commitment to understanding each other and figuring out how to work together successfully.
Prioritize learning and development throughout your organization.
Your company has bottom-line business goals. To achieve those results, its big-picture strategy should include specific objectives that serve not just shareholders and customers, but also employees. Personal breakthroughs in individual development will enable business breakthroughs in organizational growth. By encouraging and facilitating personal growth, your company can give itself a competitive edge that is measurable in real dollars and cents.
In summary, investments in employee self-awareness and team effectiveness deliver not only happier employees, but better financial results. It is critical that the board- and C-level executives in your organization acknowledge this connection in everything they do. After all, if it is your workforce that unlocks your organization’s potential, your business should focus intently on unlocking its workforce’s potential.