4 Soft Skills in the Workplace for Successful Managers
Posted on October 12, 2018 by Danny Leffel
All workplaces have a hierarchy that flows upwards in terms of authority. Employees report to managers, managers report to senior managers, and they, in turn, report to executives. it used to be that everyone did as they were told and certain behavioral rules were to be adhered to.
However, companies are frequently finding that this style of management isn’t so effective in an era where information is transmitted instantaneously and employees are more likely to be decentralized and out of reach of constant managerial observation. Hard skills are no longer as useful as they once were, and soft skills are taking their place. With that in mind, here are four soft skills to help create successful managers and make employees respond positively to instruction.
Empathy should be at the top of the list of an organization seeking to introduce soft skills in the workplace. It’s something that has been dismissed for a very long time because it goes towards the “give someone an inch and they’ll take a mile” mindset. In other words, understanding an employee’s personal distress or problem is seen as being soft and leads to the employee taking advantage of management. It’s true there’s always going to be someone who takes advantage, but they’ll do it regardless of whether their manager shows empathy.
When an employee feels like their issues are understood and appreciated by management, they feel better about the organization they work for. And when they feel better about their job, they’re more likely to stick around. It costs a company almost nothing to engage in empathy and make sure their employees can take care of personal issues without the threat of punishment by management.
2. Active Listening
There’s an age-old phrase of “in one ear, out the other,” and it’s never been truer than in today’s workplace. Employees often find that management listens to them to a point, then stops — if they listen at all. Management could be tuning out employees for a variety of reasons. However, it’s time for managers to start listening to employees in the name of advancement.
When employees don’t feel like their ideas or concerns are being heard, they won’t put in extra effort. Their job satisfaction is also low, which puts them at higher risk of leaving their job. Instead of ignoring, turn to active listening. Empowering managers to listen to problems, work on finding solutions, and take ideas and put them forward goes towards the greater good of the company. And it doesn’t take a whole lot to listen.
If a manager says they’re going to do something but doesn’t do it — and doesn’t take responsibility for their failure — they’re not going to garner much-needed respect from employees. Similarly, if a manager is in the habit of throwing someone under the bus, they’re far less likely to be trusted and effective. Oftentimes, people become unreliable and dodge responsibility because they perceive their job to be on the line if they stand up and try to deliver on a promise that makes waves among upper management.
Managers can be much more effective and successful when they know they can press important issues on behalf of employees with upper management. The same goes if they need to deliver on a promise that upper management isn’t following through on. Giving a manager the freedom to do their job and push when necessary is empowering. Not all situations and problems are going to get resolved satisfactorily, but giving a manager the ability to at least try to make good on something results in improved morale among the workforce.
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Work environments are always changing, along with interaction between vendors, suppliers, and customers. What worked fine yesterday may not be as successful today. The same goes for employees and their needs. There simply is no one-size-fits-all approach to business anymore. Managers need to be able to keep up with the changes, anticipate needs, stay on top of orders, and make sure the employees are keeping up with their workload. It’s not easy, but a manager who is flexible and adaptable is far more likely to succeed in their leadership role than they would otherwise.
Employees need to know that their leaders are on top of things and can guide them through changes when they arise. A manager who can adapt and make the necessary shift to a new way of doing things is who they’ll look to for help — as opposed to someone who doesn’t think that change is necessary or even good.
When you have a decentralized work environment with employees who communicate through their smartphone, you need centralized communications to support the soft skills described above. Download the Crew App today and get everyone working together through one efficient and effective app.