How easily can managers be taught soft skills?

6th February 2017

Our blog looks at how leaders and managers can learn the soft skills they need for their business, with help from cloud based mobile HR software systems such as IRIS FMP Amity.

There are many different qualities which managers and leaders in the workplace are expected to have. When recruiting, your top priorities may well be various “hard skills” related to expertise in your company’s core activities, whether you run a plumbing business or a web design agency. However, increasingly it is realised that “soft skills” are also critical to business success.

These include communicating clearly with staff and putting across a sense of personal integrity. HR staff tend to be especially strong in these areas, because their work is centred on people. This means they can often help managers and leaders to arrange the training they need to enhance these skills, with mobile HR software being an invaluable tool to schedule individual programmes.

What ‘Soft Skills’ Do Managers Need?

Awareness has recently been growing of the need for soft skills among younger people, with a particular focus on job applicants. Even if you have an impressive technical skill set, in the workplace it is equally important for you to be pleasant to work with, reliable and polite to others, all of which come under the heading of soft skills.

In the case of managers and leaders, as well as a general ability to get on with people, there are also many other personal qualities and skills which are needed. These will help to ensure they get the best performance out of their teams and encourage productivity, engagement and motivation.

Here is a look at some of the key skills which are required.

Communication – In any type of business, it is important it is for leaders to be able to brief colleagues properly, so that they get the full picture of what is expected from them. An inadequate briefing can lead to time and money being lost, as work needs to be redone. Communication skills must be two-way, however. Effective leaders need to know when to encourage staff to put forward any ideas and concerns about tasks, to ensure they are carried out effectively and that no problems occur later.

Sharing Values – As well as communicating what needs doing, leaders also need to be able to inspire and motivate staff. This means helping to engage them, so ensuring they will pick up your enthusiasm and want to do their best. Clearly expressing why something is being done, and what it is hoped to achieve, will give staff a fuller picture and mean they feel a greater sense of ownership of whatever project they are working on.

Taking Responsibility – This is a vital part of leadership. One of the key qualities which any manager needs is a willingness to take responsibility for projects, “championing” them from start to finish. A leader needs to be prepared to be accountable and to know when to make an executive decision, after ensuring that all those involved have been consulted and the relevant input has been properly weighed.

Emotional Intelligence – There has been a growing interest in this quality over recent years, and a recognition of why it is of key importance in the workplace. It involves recognising emotions both in yourself and in others, and working on building good relationships with them.
There are also many other soft skills which it is desirable for managers and leaders to have, including knowing how to manage time and prioritise, deciding when to delegate and being able to deal with conflict between colleagues.

Teaching Soft Skills  – Using mobile HR software

It is sometimes claimed soft skills are “unteachable”, in particular when it comes to personal trust and integrity, but in fact it is essential that these issues are incorporated into leadership training.

Various interpersonal skills can be included in learning and development courses and management scenarios. For instance, if you take a course in promoting a wellness culture this is likely to include a focus on listening and openness, which will also help in other aspects of a management role.

These skills are also often learned on the job, for instance through coaching and mentorship, and through prospective leaders being given some responsibility and encouraged to take a personal approach and think about how best to respond to complex situations. HR teams can often work with managers on helping to create an open workplace culture and promote soft skills such as integrity and effective communication at every level of an organisation.

Using mobile HR software such as Amity, our fully integrated people management solution, makes it easier to arrange Learning and Development programmes within a company, including leadership and management training. The core functionality of Amity also includes the ability to arrange and record appraisals, where skills and training needs will be discussed. To find out more about Amity mobile HR software, click here.