Technical skills get work done. Soft skills are a necessity for continued work completion. Technical skills provide the how-to knowledge, behaviors, and actions to complete a task, series of tasks, and a project. Soft skills provide the glue, the time management and people interaction know-how to keep the work happening rather than coming to a standstill. Without soft skills, teams can come to a stand-still, fail to complete assignments, and at worst, undermine each other as individual contributors to the team.
Any skill needed to help people work together can be considered a soft skill and is a necessity for the success of a team, a project, and an organization. Soft skills include the following areas of needed competence for team success.
- Time management
- Meeting leadership
- Understanding people
- Recognizing stress, strain, burn-out
- Problem Solving
- Decision Making
- Coaching performance.
Dozens of books have been written on each of these skill sets. Which of your soft skills are your strengths? Which are your limitations? Identify the skill(s) that you’d like to improve for yourself and pursue learning how to become a better soft skills person and team member.
For the first decade of my career, recognizing when others were under stress was a weakness of mine. I was so focused on tasks that I forged ahead with the sub-tasks and timelines, not realizing that some of the people around me felt that I didn’t care about them and their needs. I did care, it was just that no one coached me on the effects of my task-focused actions. Then, in an annual review, a supervisor let me know that my team-mates felt that I was stepping on them, I was shocked because that had never been my intent and I couldn’t believe someone hadn’t said something to me at the time the “problem” was first recognized.
The point being, coach improved behavior at the time a needed improvement is first recognized. Often, people do not mean to be a detriment to the team. With guidance, most people will improve their behaviors and actions.
No matter what the title or position you hold in your organization, use your soft skills for improved teamwork and team results. Soft skills are a necessity for success.