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April 29, 2024 Opinion & Commentary

Why soft skills might just be your team’s superpower

Jeremy Szechenyi

Imagine we’re in a team decathlon.

You might be able to jump high, run fast or have excellent coordination. These skills are awesome and set the team up nicely to tackle the demands of the decathlon’s events.

But here’s the thing, no matter our skills, we’re kind of just jogging in place, while other teams zoom past us. Then it clicks, it’s their soft skills, like being a good listener, cooperating with others and being flexible.

It’s giving them superpowers.

OK, so they’re not actual superpowers, but think of these skills as the secret sauce that makes everything click. Sure, it’s awesome to nail your part of the decathlon, but you can’t win without smoothly handing off the baton to your teammate, right?

Sounds easy enough, but when things get hectic, even the simple stuff gets tricky without the right soft skills. It’s all about working together, understanding each other and staying flexible. That’s where the magic happens.

And guess what? There’s data to back it up.

McKinsey found that companies are doubling down on the importance of soft skills like empathy and adaptability, showing just how much they value these human touches​​.

The best part is that soft skills can be learned and improved just like any other skill.

Investing in these soft skills can pay off big time. When everyone gets along, listens and supports each other, teams become unstoppable. They collaborate more seamlessly, coming up with better ideas, getting stuff done faster and feeling more satisfied with the work.

Plus, when people feel valued for who they are, not just what they do, they tend to stick around longer.

Team success vs. failure

Is employee retention important to you? That’s a rhetorical question, it’s important for everyone.

In fact, 97% of employers agree that soft skills are crucial, but almost half of new hires struggle because they’re missing these key skills​​. Left unchecked, that disconnect will result in higher turnover.

Now, imagine a team that’s ready for anything. They’re the game-changers, always learning, adapting and pushing forward. When you focus on building up those soft skills, you’re giving your team superpowers.

LinkedIn’s research backs this up, pointing out that soft skills can be the difference between succeeding or failing in a job role.

So, what’s next? After seeing how crucial these soft skills are for nailing our jobs and being great team players, it’s time to think about how we can get better at them.

It’s like knowing you have this secret weapon, and now you’re figuring out how to use it.

And here’s a bonus: these skills aren’t just useful at work. They make life outside the office better, too.

Being a good listener, understanding other people’s feelings and being able to work through tough times are superpowers in friendships and families as well.

So, how do we make our teams into these superhero squads? Encourage everyone to learn and improve their soft skills. Offer workshops, training sessions, team activities and daily practice opportunities so your current and new staff can level up.

Remember our team decathlon? Running fast and jumping high are important, but we win the race by passing the baton, cheering each other on and crossing the finish line together.

That’s what focusing on soft skills is all about — making sure we’re a team that wins golds together, not just a bunch of hotshots.

Investing in soft skills takes time, patience and attention. But when you have a strong, happy team that can take on anything together, the last thing you’ll be doing is thinking about the cost of that investment.

When we blend the practical with the personal, we create workplaces where people can do their best work and feel like they belong. It’s the blend of unique talents and human connections that push us forward.

Why not invest in making that better?

Jeremy Szechenyi is the chief marketing officer at the MetroHartford Alliance.

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