Promoting the development of soft skills in the workplace has enjoyed more recognition in recent years, and rightly so. If you take a moment to imagine what your workplace would be like without colleagues that are effective communicators, good decision-makers and know how to solve problems before they escalate, you’ll see straight away why soft skills matter.
With so many of us still working from home, how do both colleagues and business leaders continue to promote soft skill development effectively?
From choosing e-learning programs that will genuinely interest your employees to providing mentorship, read on to discover some top tips on promoting soft skills with a remote workforce.
Help people understand the soft skills they need to thrive
We all think we’re pretty self-aware, but we aren’t always spot on about our own strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, the soft skills that we were ‘good’ at in the physical workplace might not be the ones we excel at when we are working from home. Just because you were confident with speaking in person with your colleagues or clients doesn’t mean you’ll feel self-assured and be at your best when conducting meetings via video conference. Heaven knows I have struggled.
Self-assessments and peer assessments can help identify which skills you need to develop and why. Peer reviews can be incredibly eye-opening, in a very positive way, helping us to understand our behaviours and motivations better and to identify ways we can feel more happy and productive in the workplace. The process should also create a welcome opportunity for remote working employees to interact on something that isn’t directly involved with their work. Bringing people together and maintaining bonds is now more important than ever.
Provide the training materials that people want to use
While there are a number of worthwhile e-learning content providers available, there are also a lot of programs that aren’t worth the time or effort. We’ve all been asked to sit through a poorly designed training program with tokenistic multi-choice questions, and we have all hated every minute of it.
Soft skills are so important to people in procurement and supply chain jobs. Be the company that surprises your employees with a genuinely interesting, insightful and useful soft skills training program. We promise that they will thank you for it. The best way of going about this is to ask them what they want to learn and why. You could also ask for recommendations from your team, your peers, or even from your LinkedIn community.
Remember that there is no blanket approach to learning and development. Particularly when it comes to soft skills. Every one of your employees will have different needs and these must all be catered for. If your team isn't sure which soft skills they need or want to develop, consider finding an online test that uses machine learning to reveal their strengths and weaknesses and work from there.
Develop a remote mentorship program
During conversations with friends over the last couple of years, I have been saddened to hear how mentorship programs have fallen by the wayside due to the pandemic. We have all been under an incredible amount of personal and professional pressure, but now that life is edging back to the so-called new normal, it’s time to get those initiatives back on track.
In a remote setting, this has the potential to be awkward for both the mentor and the mentee so it is vital that people are placed with genuinely suitable partners, or groups. And remember it is a two-way street so why not try to pair someone who wants to improve their listening skills with an employee who wants to improve their spoken communication skills, for example.
We hope these ideas for promoting soft skills development with a remote workforce have been useful and have given you a few ideas on how to unify your team as they continue to adapt to new ways of working.
As we mentioned before, procurement and supply chain professionals cannot thrive without a range of soft skills. The ability to remain calm under pressure, to negotiate diplomatically and empathise with others are all hugely important skills and need to be cultivated.
It continues to be a challenging time in our sector and naturally you won’t always get things right. Hopefully, the above suggestions will have given you some food for thought.
We’d love to hear about your experiences with promoting soft skills at your workplace so please do get in touch with your ideas and recommendations.
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