Career growth is/should be the goal for anyone looking to optimize their time and effort at the workplace.
Naturally, hard skills will get you through the door but it is the less highlighted soft skills that will get you up the ladder.
Hard skills are the knowledge and skills specific to a job that employees need to successfully carry out their duties. On the other hand, soft skills are the character traits that enable employees to thrive at work.
It is these soft skills that will be examined in detail, with the focus on how one can harness them to boost their chances of career growth.
Employers believe that being technically superb at performing any given task is good as it helps the company achieve its basic goal, however, they also believe that for any employee to stand out, he/she needs to have an arsenal of skills that may be hard to measure yet critical to success.
Google — one of the most successful companies in history — analyzed its personnel and found that the most productive and engaged members of its teams were those who possessed well-developed soft skills.
As a result, Google began to hire not only those who brought impressive technical skills to the table but also those who demonstrated high scores for soft skills.
“Soft skills get little respect but they will make or break your career” – Peggy Klaus, Author.
Here are some soft skills that if optimized, could help you further your career.
This is arguably the most important of them all as it ties in with everything else.
On the surface, communication sounds simple enough as it only entails giving and receiving information.
However, many mistakes happen along this simple chain of information that could render the communication ineffective. For example, the giver of information may be snappy and unclear which then means the receiver is more likely to respond negatively, or even just stop listening due to the snappy tone of the giver.
It sounds simple but something as subtle as the tone of voice or text could be the difference between effective and ineffective communication.
You must be careful when sending information at work to ensure that it is accurate, contains all pertinent information, and is communicated in a way that inspires urgency without coming off as aggressive.
Utilize every chance to hone your communication abilities so that when crucial situations arise, you will be equipped with the talent, the manner, the clarity, the emotions, and the sharpness to influence others.
Here are key communication tips
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Whether you’re negotiating for a new product for your business or asking for a salary increase, negotiation is almost a daily occurrence in any workplace.
Some are born-negotiators with an almost God-given talent when it comes to the art of negotiating. However, most have learned ways to boost their negotiation skills as it is teachable.
Here are some critical skills that go into any negotiation.
Knowledge – Never go in blind. Always arm yourself with as much information on the subject as is humanly possible.
Understanding – This is simply being open to the other side’s point of view. As they say, it takes two to tango. Perspective is king.
Value – This is different from cost. For instance, if you are negotiating a pay raise, concentrate on the worth of your work rather than the X amount of shillings of the increase itself. Prepare data that reflects the worth of your efforts, the growth you've experienced, and your specific growth strategies.
In summary, when it comes to negotiating;
Read Also: How to Negotiate an Entry-level Job Salary
Relationship-building skills are a set of soft skills used to form positive relationships that are essential in the workplace in order to get along with coworkers, contribute to a team, and develop an understanding between yourself and others.
It could be as simple as learning to always begin with praise and honest appreciation as giving thanks always sets the right tone. Think of it this way, when was the last time you shared an idea at work and had it ridiculed or rudely shot down? How did that make you feel?
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou.
At work, if your junior colleague messes up, how you react often co-relates with how effective and productive that individual will be down the line.
As an example, talk about one of your own mistakes in the past before tearing them down. Making yourself human in such a scenario only adds to your power of persuasion.
The rule of thumb is that positive feedback always leads to positive results.
When it comes to relationship building in the workplace;
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It is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
This is a quality that most would agree is essential to positive human interactions, both in and out of the office.
According to research, when leaders empathize with their employees, satisfaction and engagement skyrocket.
Interestingly, recent research has also shown that empathy skills are at an all-time low in the current work environment due to the global adoption of digital communication.
Daniel Goleman, who is known for coining the term “emotional intelligence,” has written on the subject where he argues that human beings are wired to process face-to-face interaction as it allows us to respond in an empathetic manner.
However, the digital age means more and more is being said on email and chat rooms which tends to dehumanize the communication process.
Think of it this way, How many times have you assumed someone was angry with you based on an email they sent when, in fact, they were not? How often has your tone been misinterpreted in a text or other online communication? Happens all the time doesn’t it?
In summary, when it comes to honing your empathy skills;
Almost everyone has ‘ I am a team player’ in their first CVs but what does it really mean?
Teamwork skills are the characteristics and abilities that enable you to collaborate effectively with others during conversations, projects, meetings, and other activities.
Did you know that teamwork is one of the most sought-after skills in the workplace, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE)?
Almost every industry, from business solutions to information technology to food services, requires teamwork.
Even if you perform the bulk of your job duties alone, you should be able to think of your deliverables in the context of the company’s broader goals.
There are numerous teamwork skills, but they are all related to your ability to engage and collaborate with others. Being a successful team member necessitates excellent communication, listening, and conflict resolution abilities.
In summary, when it comes to teamwork;
Read Also: Should You Take a Job That You Love or One That Pays?
Emotional intelligence - Never act impulsively. As a rule of thumb, always take a step back in silence when upset as opposed to typing up a fiery email.
It is an innate awareness of your actions and feelings – and how they affect those around you.
Time management – As simple as it may sound, how you manage your time is the difference between you and a promotion, or you and financial success in general.
It is the only resource that is distributed equally for the wealthy, the hustlers, the poor, the aspirers...everyone gets 24 hours a day. However, everyone goes about utilizing this finite resource quite differently, and therein lies the secret.
When it comes to time management;
While hard skills demonstrate your experience and understanding of a specific, measurable ability, soft skills indicate your ability to collaborate with others and progress within a company.
Many employers are now prioritising soft skills during hiring. Monster’s The Future of Work 2021: Global Hiring Outlook reported that when employers were asked to name the top skills they want in employees, they cited soft skills such as teamwork/collaboration, and problem-solving.
While most people are hired for their technical abilities, their soft skills give them “career durability,” Alexandra Levit, Author of Humanity Works: Merging Technologies and People for the Workforce of the Future