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The importance of soft skills in the workplace

Not so long ago, the most important skills for an employer were technical skills related to the position and the work performed in it. Nowadays, however, soft competencies are becoming increasingly important. Increased professions require the possession of certain interpersonal qualities, so it is worth noting the importance of soft competencies, the impact they have on the effective performance of a given employee’s duties, as well as the impact on team cooperation.

Table of contents

  1. What are competencies?
  2. Soft competencies versus hard competencies
  3. Division of soft skills
  4. Why develop soft skills?
  5. The role of soft skills in effective teamwork
  6. Summary

1.What are competencies?

EN Znaczenie kompetencji miekkich

When considering soft competencies and their impact on the effectiveness of teamwork, it is worth starting with what competencies are in general terms. Competencies are dispositions in terms of knowledge, skills and attitudes, allowing to perform professional tasks at an appropriate level. It is also worth adding that competencies, according to the concept of Lean Management, can be improved. This means that if someone does not have a certain competence sufficiently developed at the moment, he or she can take measures to develop it.

2. Soft competencies versus hard competencies

Employers are increasingly looking for employees who have both sets of competencies, both hard and soft. They affect an employee’s performance and the quality of his or her work. They are not at two opposite poles, but rather complement each other.

Hard competencies

Hard skills are measurable, they can be acquired through learning and acquiring knowledge related to a specific discipline, field, or practical skills. Therefore, it can be said that they are more substantive. Confirmation of the possession of hard competencies are all kinds of certificates, certificates, diplomas, or certifications – enabling one to work in a specific profession. Examples of hard competencies include knowledge of foreign languages, possession of a driver’s license, operation of computer programs, or completed studies or courses.

Soft skills

Soft competencies, on the other hand, are more difficult to measure or assess. They can be described as social skills because they are related to our personality and character traits, and concern our behavior in dealing with others, including in the workplace. They allow us to determine our approach to a co-worker, an organization or the duties being performed. Examples of soft skills are communicativeness, time management skills, resistance to stress, or finally the ability to work in a team.

3. Division of soft skills

Soft competencies are often divided into two groups: personal skills and interpersonal skills.

personal skills interpersonal skills
creativity, the ability to cope with stressful situations, the ability to manage time at work, as well as the ability to organize one’s work, or assertiveness, among othersability to communicate with others, the ability to work in teams, but also the ability to motivate others, as well as persuasion
Źródło: Opracowanie własne

4. Why develop soft skills?

Soft skills are universal

They are not needed for a specific job role, nor are they subject to obsolescence because of a change of job or industry in which a person has previously worked. Soft competencies are useful in any position.

Soft competencies distinguish an employee from other candidates

When applying for a position, where hard skills are at a similar level to competitors, it may be important to have developed personal and interpersonal skills to present yourself in an even better light and increase your chances of getting your dream job.

Soft skills are increasingly valued by superiors

Soft competencies are a decisive criterion not only when recruiting a new employee, but they can prove equally useful for existing employees, such as when several employees are being considered for promotion to a higher position, especially if it is a managerial position. Developed soft competencies are an integral part of the silhouette of a good manager or executive.

Soft skills are unique

All the competencies possessed by a given employee constitute a unique and one-of-a-kind set. It is difficult, if not impossible, to find another person with a remarkably similar set of competencies, so each employee represents a unique value to the organization. Moreover, competencies such as the ability to think creatively, work in a team, or solve problems effectively cannot be automated.

5. The role of soft skills in effective teamwork

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Soft skills affect not only the quality of individual work, but also the effectiveness of the entire team. When you are a member of a team, you need to be able to find yourself and build relationships with the other members – this is what teamwork skills are all about. People who can work in a team have in mind not only individual tasks, but also the common goal of the whole team. They are open-minded and accept different points of view and suggestions, support other team members, engage in common tasks, and rely on partnerships. Equally important in teamwork are communication skills, understood as, on the one hand, the ability to formulate messages precisely, on the other – the ability to actively listen. At the same time, it should be remembered that communication is not only about verbal communication, but also about accompanying gestures, body language, facial expressions, and eye contact. Having developed communication skills promotes understanding with people with different personality types. Soft skills such as stress resistance and time management skills, among others, are also welcome in team members. All these skills positively influence the work of the team and contribute to generating better results.

6. Summary

How to develop soft skills in an organization?

If you want to self-improve your soft skills, it’s worth using Kaizen, which is one of the methods of the Lean Management concept, specifically the method of small steps. Its principles may prove useful here, for example, “Problems create new opportunities” or “Correct mistakes on the fly” refer to improving conflict management skills. Another principle – “Take ideas from everyone” refers to the ability to listen actively, and the principle “Use cleverness instead of money” is nothing more than the ability to think creatively, or solve problems, or finally “Improving is never-ending” aims to make it clear that in the case of soft skills, they can’t just be learned, but need to be constantly improved.

On the other hand, if you want to develop soft skills in your subordinates, it is worth taking advantage of the offer of experienced trainers who organize training and improvement courses. Perfectly prepared instructors, experienced, motivating, engaging are the best help. Contact leanidea@leanidea.pl, we will examine the level of competence, propose a training program, and adjust the schedule to the needs of your company and your employees. We will conduct an implementation workshop that will make sure participants have gained knowledge and can useity. Soft skills training will facilitate the emergence of team roles, improve communication between colleagues, increase the commitment of team members and positively influence team integration.