“Experts have been telling us for years how important positive relationships are and yet we don’t focus much energy or time building them.” So wrote Ken Blanchard, of Situational Leadership and the One Minute Manager fame in his book Whale Done! The Power of Positive Relationships. "The reality is that people don’t leave companies, they leave bosses. This is costly – both financially and emotionally. It drains our organisation of resources. We look for complicated answers when simple ones are right in front of us…”
We don’t leave organisations; we leave the bad relationships we have with bosses and colleagues. Have you ever woken up in the morning and not wanted to go to work? Have you ever left a job because of difficult relationships?
We spend enormous amounts of time and money on technical training but often fail to provide ‘soft’ skills training. It’s the ‘soft’ skills that help create relationships and optimise all the tools and processes.
If our people don’t use the resources, it is not only ineffective but also a very bad investment.
How do we enable our people to be happy and productive? We invest in ‘soft’ skills.
Author Seth Godin is an advocate of replacing the term ‘soft’ with ‘real’ because these harder to measure interpersonal skills are not optional, they are in fact essential. As Godin asks in his article Let’s Stop Calling Them Soft Skills: “Imagine a team member with all the traditional vocational skills: productive, skilled, experienced. Now, add to that: Perceptive, charismatic, driven, focused, goal-setting, inspiring and motivated. A deep listener, with patience. What happens to your organisation when someone like that joins your team?”
When organisations look to hire and develop these skills they are investing in relationships that will create an inspiring workplace where everyone achieves the business goals and productivity levels are high. A workplace where people want to come to work and absenteeism and turnover are low. Do the sums on the savings!
Superior people managers don’t focus on the bottom line, they focus on the people who are responsible for the bottom line. They cultivate authentic relationships and reap the rewards. They value resilience and creative problem solving skills that will still be relevant long after technical skills have become obsolete.
If relationships are authentic, the rest just follows; people look forward to coming to work, problems are ‘owned’ and dealt with in a prompt, open and effective manner, people respect and value the contribution of others and the bottom line works itself out because everyone does what they should be doing.
At the end of the day, happy people are productive people. And productive people make a difference.
What Are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are skills that, despite being difficult to measure, have a large impact on the value an employee brings to an organisation. In the old days, we might have referred to soft skills as an employee’s character. They include skills like reliability, conscientiousness, empathy and diligence. (source: Forbes)