Have you ever come out of a meeting with a member of staff and thought, “damn, maybe that could have gone better?” Do you find that staff avoid telling you when they have problems, do you only hear things through the grapevine?
You’re not alone. Three years ago, You Gov did some research about the gap between employers and their employees. Both groups agreed with the attributes that make a good boss. But, while 73% of bosses thought they had good managerial skills, only 43% of staff thought this was the case.
Staff want to feel appreciated, respected, and heard. While many bosses believe they treat everyone in a caring manner, it often isn’t coming across that way to staff.
LinkedIn’s 2019 Talent Trends research found that amongst the 5,000 plus managers who took part, didn’t name technology or artificial intelligence as the most important workplace trend. No, what they wanted was soft skills.
What are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are all about your character, emotions, and social skills. They include:
- Effective communication
- Productive leadership
- Practical problem solving
These skills also encompass empathy, listening to staff, working as a team and conflict resolution. Many of these skills link to Emotional Intelligence. There is no scientific evidence to prove that someone with high emotional intelligence will be a better boss or co-worker. But, many companies believe this to be the case. Recruitment processes often include Emotional Intelligence tests.
A person with high emotional intelligence will be aware of their own emotions and those of the people around them. They are empathetic and compassionate. And, they realise how their behaviour and reactions affect other people.
How soft skills work
A good example of the way soft skills work is by looking at a London process server. They have days when each job goes without a hitch. The people the server meets are friendly and polite. But, what about a process server who has court papers to deliver to someone who is being defensive and rude? We’re not talking about aggression here, that’s a different skill. But if you’re dealing with someone who is trying to wriggle out of accepting papers soft skills, and especially emotional intelligence, can be a huge benefit.
Why? Because the ability to talk to a person without appearing superior and putting them at ease can change a difficult situation completely. Most people, when served with court documents, are naturally defensive. This often stems from worry or frustration. A court server using soft skills can explain why the papers are being served and the importance of accepting them. Their calm manner and empathy will, in the majority of cases, end up with a successful service.
How does emotional intelligence work in the office?
Think about what you do when a member of staff comes in to talk to you. Do you give them your full attention? Maybe you carry on typing on your keyboard or, you look at your computer screen while they are talking.
How is your desk positioned? Can you see the person in front of you easily or do you have to lean around your computer screen? Can you see how this can make a member of staff feel unimportant and undervalued?
If you have the room, install a couple of comfortable chairs. Then you can invite your staff to sit down with you away from your desk so that they have your full attention. Or, simply move your computer screen to make it easier to make eye contact. This is just one example of how you can improve the way you treat your staff by improving your listening skills.
Can you learn emotional intelligence?
The good news is, yes, you can learn emotional intelligence. You’ll normally find courses cover:
- Emotional control
- Relationship skills
There are plenty of courses available. A quick Google search will give you details of online courses, or workshops, they may last just a few hours or, are spread over a few days. There are also corporate courses available for companies who want to provide employee training.
The benefits of staff and managers who demonstrate emotional intelligence
One of the most important benefits of using emotional intelligence in the workplace is the reduction of stress. Being able to handle conflict, solve problems and communicate effectively mean that stress levels will drop. Staff who recognise when negative feelings need addressing are more likely to manage problems successfully when they occur.
Self-awareness and empathy help to strengthen the relationships with co-workers. Fewer misunderstandings will mean less conflict between staff members.
And, finally, as a boss, using your skills to listen, solve problems and empathise will make your staff feel valued. Their self-confidence should increase. And, productivity will no doubt improve. The smiles you get will be genuine. You’ll be part of the team not, someone who is looking in from the outside.