Soft skills matter – why do we put them on the back burner?

Companies want results and they want them now. Soft skills – communication, team building, emotional maturity, social skills, problem solving skills – are the icing on the cake. Or are they?

Gallup research show that employees who are focused on building their individual strengths are 7.8% more productive in their role, 6x as likely to be engaged at work, and 6x as likely to do what they do best every single day. Gallup’s well-being studies show a correlation between career well-being and its relationship to a person’s overall life.

The American Society for Quality rallies behind “Theory Y” vs. Theory X. Theory Y is about empowering people and bringing decisions to the most local of levels. Empowerment and problem-solving results in higher quality. Higher quality means more value for the customer, with reduced costs.

In a recent Harvard study, P.A.C.E. Training (soft skills) is correlated to career success for individuals. Individuals end up working at better firms and commanding higher salaries, because they are better performers.

Prosci has built a successful institution behind the principle of change management. Innovation and making changes at rapid speed are great skills to bring to the table. The soft science of change management focuses on increasing the odds that these innovative changes will actually be adopted.

With so many reputable companies providing hard data about the importance of taking time to focus on relationships in order to maximize results, why do we still put soft skills on the back burner?

Because people skills take time to develop. They take commitment for the long haul. They take trust. They take vulnerability. They are risky, and the correlation to specific results is difficult to prove at a project level. They ask us to break past limiting beliefs to develop new habits to build what could be. In a world with a short attention span which desires immediate results, the fortitude to focus on building a great culture can get lost.

But there are those courageous individuals and companies who consider the risk-reward ratio and commit to greatness. They commit to finding the balance between relationship and task.They take time to develop soft skills – Strengths awareness, problem-solving skills, connection to purpose, team building, and the development of emotional maturity. And they not only achieve measurable results, they achieve purpose while making the work environment a better place.

Reaching our purpose, achieving results, enjoying the journey, and connecting with people to build greatness. Who doesn’t want that? We can have our cake, and eat it too…

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