Soft Skills Are Essential

Working with hiring managers in several different industries including mining, safety, manufacturing, and health care the one common denominator for skills from the Executive Suite to the labour pool has been soft skills. Yes – soft skills – those skills that require having good to great people proficiencies. Most managers agree that technological skills are taught in higher education or learned on the job. Soft skills on the other hand are a learned behaviour that is not typically taught in the workplace. They require adaptability and flexibility. These skills are particularly important in times of uncertainty and in areas that are murky at best.

The skills most in demand in the area of work are conflict management, critical thinking, dependability, priority management, problem solving, or creative thinking. Employers need people who communicate, that means answering emails and messages, and who are able to think outside of the issue meaning using their creativity to solve a problem or a situation.

Employers also need people who have a high degree of emotional intelligence, meaning the maturity to address and manage a situation staying present to the circumstance and staying calm. Along with maturity being approachable, flexible, adaptable, resilient, and able to work within a team environment harmoniously are also part of the essential soft skills package. Being able to pivot and address what is next leads to mastery of these skills further enabling a person to engage and influence others. 

People who are resilient are typically curious and willing to try new things. It is speculated about 70% of working people want to be told what to do and do that over and over again. Enter the need for curiosity, and the ability to generate plans as processes unfold.

Having great soft skills allows for decoding or analytic skills. Unpacking systems and processes are essential. Using critical thinking skills is invaluable in terms of putting all of the puzzle pieces together into a logical framework. It is also valuable when it comes to unearthing details overlooked by others.

Reading people and communicating is an art that is developed. Having empathy and being able to see people as they are, is requisite for leaders and managers. Focusing on what others want and need and then being able to communicate that is beneficial.

The people who have these essential soft skills are able to lead with confidence. They know when to act and when to slow things down until the timing for a change or process is more fully aligned. They are able to manage stress and they have patience.

Having a work ethic in terms of being present to the situation, with a willingness to learn something new is part of having well developed soft skills. Lastly engaging in business behaviour that mirrors truthfulness, has integrity, and is transparent are also important aspects of the soft skills toolbox.

Marie-Helene Sakowski,