Soft skills are non-technical skills and behavioral competencies that enable someone to effectively interact and form relationships with others. Soft skills are critical to both employees and organizations and impact company culture, mindsets and behaviors. The following are examples of soft skills:
- Communication skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Leadership and management skills
- Negotiation, listening and decision-making skills
- Teamwork, problem-solving and collaboration
- Adaptability, resilience and agility
- Creativity, innovation and curiosity
- Empathy, integrity, authenticity and trust
Employees across job roles and industries rely on soft skills to effectively communicate and interact with colleagues and customers. Having effective soft skills becomes increasingly important in management and leadership roles. As the world of work evolves through automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies, employees must develop the emotional and social capabilities that machines cannot master.
Developing Soft Skills
Soft skills training can lead to improvements across the business, including an increase in employee motivation, productivity and retention. Practice and reinforcement are necessary to develop and refine this skill set over an extended period of time. Soft skills can be developed through formal classroom instruction, mentoring and coaching opportunities, role-play scenarios with instructor feedback, virtual reality (VR) simulations that put learners in real-life situations, on-the-job learning, eLearning, or a blended approach. The format of training you pick will depend on many factors, including your company’s size, your training budget and the needs of your workforce.
Measuring and Evaluating Soft Skills
Soft skills are more elusive in nature and can be more difficult to evaluate and measure than technical skills. Learning and development (L&D) professionals must determine key performance indicators (KPIs) before training takes place to determine how they will assess these skills. L&D can use a variety of methods, including self-assessment tools; 360-degree feedback evaluations that provide input from the people who most frequently interact with the learner; or establishing a rubric that clearly defines the behaviors, characteristics or attributes that demonstrate the skill the learner is developing.
- Expert Perspectives on Soft Skills E-book
- Podcast Episode: Soft Skills as a Differentiator
- Why Soft Skills Are the Competitive Advantage of the 21st Century