How Employees Can Improve Their Soft Skills
As you progress in your career, you’ll find that improving your soft skills is just as important as improving your hard skills. It’s easier to identify what hard skills you need to advance in your career, such as getting a master’s degree, obtaining certification, or gaining proficiency in a language. When it comes to soft skills, however, it can be difficult to not only figure out the ones you need to grow but also what soft skills you already possess. For example, you may be able to listen, but you might not be practicing active listening. To figure out how to improve your soft skills, you’ll need to identify your skill set, evaluate where you need to grow, and create an action plan.
Identify your soft skills
Scan your CV and search for keywords like “team player”, “adaptability”, and “communication”. If you’ve included any of these soft skills in your CV, you probably did so without thinking. Often the easiest way to figure out what soft skills you have is by looking at what you’ve already written about yourself. Take a look at the example below,
- Responsible for adapting to changes in schedule and communicating across departments.
Two soft skills are listed in that description of duties. After combing through your CV, speak to your colleagues and manager. Not only will they be able to provide you with valuable feedback, but you’ll also be practicing a soft skill: listening.
Evaluate the soft skills you need to grow
Once you’ve come up with a list of the soft skills you possess, figure out which ones are most pertinent to your job and the ones you’re lacking. While all soft skills are important, it’s better to remain focused and choose soft skills that will be immediately helpful to your growth as an employee. Those working actively on a team will benefit from a course on leadership. If you’ve got to write and present reports frequently, you’ll find business writing courses useful. Make sure you’re advancing in a tactical way, and not in a way that will cause more stress or unnecessary work.
Create an action plan
The next step is to create an action plan on how you’ll improve and implement your soft skills. Figure out if you need to take a course, if your company provides any resources you might need, and set goals so that you can gauge your improvements. Goals like presenting a big report to upper management or spending 5 minutes building relationships with colleagues are simple and easy to implement.
Look for opportunities to improve your soft skills at your workplace, too. Speaking up at meetings, handling multiple projects at once, and even planning a team building event are all daily ways to enhance soft skills.
Employees need strong soft skills because they work tandem with hard skills. A programmer needs to be able to communicate with clients, a salesperson needs to be able to persuade. If you want to get noticed as a strong employee, start working on your soft skills today.