How Leaders Should Use Their Soft Skills to Strengthen Their Workforce
If we had $1 for every word that’s been written about company culture, we’d all be rich. The reason it’s such a hot topic is because it’s crucially important. An unhealthy culture is toxic, stressful, and downright bad for a person’s health.
Leadership’s behaviors and attitudes play a pivotal role in company culture and workplace dynamics. Yes, their knowledge and ability to think strategically are important, but their soft skills are, too. A leader’s compassion, empathy, and consideration are just as important in maintaining high-performing employees who stay engaged and don’t leave.
If you’re a leader who has always believed showing any emotions at work is unprofessional, it may be time to change your way of thinking. Here are 5 ways leaders should use their soft skills to strengthen their workplace.
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Strong communication is one of the biggest building blocks of team success, and it’s a two-way street. Leaders shouldn’t just share information and make demands, they should listen to what their team members say.
Having as much information as possible is helpful in almost every situation, and the workplace is no different. Understanding how their team members feel about their workloads, expectations, and company direction empowers leaders to react helpfully.
Do it by: Making time to talk to each team member one-on-one consistently, and asking for feedback during meetings. Create a comfortable atmosphere for giving feedback.
2: Be friendly
As the old saying goes, “it costs nothing to be nice”. Wanting to be feared is an old-school management style that’s not effective in today’s marketplace. Availability, approachability, and being nice are what’s in style now, especially with Millennials and Gen Z team members.
Do it by: Using your manners. Smile and offer a greeting when you see team members. Strike up a little chit-chat before diving into work. This may sound like a waste of time, but it will build loyalty and goodwill in the long run.
3: Show appreciation.
In a recent survey, 79% of people who had recently quit their job said they left because they weren’t appreciated. Don’t automatically assume your team members know you value them and recognize the effort they make for the company. A word of encouragement here and a “great job” there can boost morale and make your team feel appreciated. This costs neither you nor the company any dollars out of the budget, but the return on investment is immense.
Do it by: Calling out team members who’ve gone above and beyond in getting work completed or coming up with new ideas that save time or money. Use verbal praise and quick emails to make your team know you see their contributions. Let them know you’re sharing their good job to the powers-that-be, too.
4: Offer support.
Life can be hard. If a team member is going through a rough patch, don’t pile on to the problem. Offering comfort, advice, and assistance isn’t weak, it’s human. The Harvard Business Review surveyed more than 1,000 leaders from 800 organizations and 91% of them said compassion is very important for their leadership
Do it by: Being empathetic and supportive of your team when they struggle. They’ll repay you in dedication and loyalty.
5: Act respectfully.
It’s no surprise that work, no matter your position or industry, is stressful on occasion. Avoid taking your annoyance and frustration out on your staff and others in your organization.
Do it by: Treating everyone kindly and respectfully. Talk and interact with your co-workers as you would want your spouse, parent, or children treated.
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Leaders who realize soft skills are important and put in the effort can reap a fantastic return on investment.
- Greater loyalty. Feeling appreciated and understood, and like your contributions matter, make individuals want to stay where they are. Leaders with soft skills can create an environment that reduces workplace stress and turnover.
- Stronger engagement. According to a Gallup poll, 70% of the variance in team engagement is determined solely by the manager. A more engaged team member works harder and more efficiently, is more creative, and more likely to tackle problems and get along with co-workers.
- More cohesive teams. Management’s soft skills not only affect team members individually, they impact how the team works together as a whole. This is because people watch their leaders and often mirror their behaviors. If leaders are compassionate, respectful, and friendly, team members will be more likely to be, too.
It’s time that exhibiting good manners, showing compassion, and communicating respectfully are acknowledged as leadership qualities along with knowledge and organization. These soft skills may be the attributes that keep your team committed to the company and thriving in their roles.
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