Want to gain an edge in today’s competitive workplace? It’s time to hone your soft skills.
Pandemic-era changes to the way we communicate and problem-solve at work require skills like critical thinking and strong communication.
Yet 39% of employees say their biggest workplace frustration is that their employer doesn’t provide effective soft skills training. According to research mandated by the CFA Institute, where I am the Executive Director of Professional Learning.
As a result, many of us are forced to cultivate these skills on our own. Here are the five you need to prioritize today:
Curious employees challenge the status quo; they ask relevant questions that broaden the scope of an idea or project.
The most curious people are able to see new possibilities that are usually hidden behind the blurring of work and everyday life. Honing your curiosity will help you find good solutions faster and more creatively.
How to develop curiosity: Find out about a topic that is unfamiliar to you. Recently, I decided to find out more about how the brain works. I read two books on neuroscience and gained a deep understanding of how people process new information.
Curiosity can help you generate new ideas, but innovation spurs the collaboration and invention needed to bring an idea to life.
For example, when I worked as a consultant, I noticed that people who found innovative solutions to customer problems were the driving force that made everyone excited to work together. As a bonus, these employees have often been rewarded for their spirit of innovation, both in distinctions and in compensation.
How to develop innovation skills: Your colleagues and clients are your best allies in coming up with unique and actionable ideas. Collaborate with them. Prioritize networking and have conversations about your work that go beyond completing your daily tasks.
Speed implies the ability to quickly absorb knowledge, apply it and transmit it. With technology and the wealth of information at your fingertips, decisions that used to take weeks are made in days or even hours.
Now, when I interview someone, I ask them to give me an example of a difficult work situation where they had to meet a difficult deadline. If they can explain it to me, with details of how they did it under time pressure, I feel much more confident hiring them.
How to develop speed: Volunteer to take on an attractive task when it comes to you, and pay close attention to how you manage your time.
Maybe you’re wasting time retrieving information because you’re not taking thorough notes in meetings, or maybe you’re wasting afternoon productivity because you overschedule your mornings. Recognize them as opportunities to improve and make changes.
It used to be that strong communication consisted of a firm handshake, eye contact, and attentive listening. Now, the skill and intentionality needed to craft a great Slack message or Zoom door opener is an essential investment for success in any job.
How to develop your communication skills: Take a class or join a public speaking club, such as Toastmasters International.
When I found myself in a role that required a lot of public speaking, I decided to take a communication course taught by a former television presenter. Being forced to face my fears and work on structuring my speech has made me a more confident and attentive communicator.
In his book “brave the desertwrites Brené Brown: “The foundation of courage is vulnerability – the ability to navigate uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. »
It may seem counter-intuitive, but this soft skill is especially relevant today amidst the job-changing trend.
Consider the standard job interview challenge in which you are asked to explain how to handle a difficult situation or even a mistake. The most sought-after candidates will go beyond the error and the solution to demonstrate what was learned, how this knowledge was applied in the future, and how it benefited the organization.
How to develop vulnerability: Be open about your own shortcomings. I am quick to admit my own mistakes – and I do so not only for my own growth, but to set an example for those who work for me.
Barbara PetittPh.D., CFA, is the Managing Director of Professional Learning at CFA Institute, where she applies her 25 years of experience in the design, development and delivery of digital educational products. Prior to the CFA, she was the Director of Online Studies at Online Education Winner.