Soft skills are often the long-forgotten tools your business is missing. Leaders tend to take these skills for granted, assuming that most employees or applicants already have these abilities perfected. Few take the time to assess employees on these skills, and even fewer consider the benefits of further developing these skills across their company.
In the age of a pandemic, when many companies and their staff are either working entirely remotely or are at least somewhat distributed across different locations, taking the time to strengthen and solidify soft skills will be essential to your business staying afloat.
1. Be Empathetic to Your Employee’s Personal Struggle
By now, your business has successfully found a way to distance your workforce; whether that be a fully remote workforce, developing a schedule for in and out of office work, or a hybrid of the two.
With this massive change in your daily operations, as well as the very nature of living during a global pandemic, your employees are probably overwhelmed, to say the least. Having compassion for your employees and leading with love during this time (and always) will allow you to better empathize with the challenges and worries your staff is facing on a personal level.
Understand that your employees are likely facing struggles in their personal lives, specifically regarding their job and their finances during this difficult time. You will want to consider providing information about money management and how to receive early paycheck deposits for those who may be struggling to make ends meet. When your employees see their employer taking steps to help them in both their personal and professional lives, connections will be strengthened.
2. Encouraging Versatility Will Lend a Hand to Connectivity
Members of your staff who have the ability to flex, embrace change, or the capacity to learn how will provide greater value to your business moving forward and help you stay afloat.
One way to inspire your workers to become more versatile is to continue cross-training job functions. Schedule virtual meetings with teammates who perform other duties within the company to learn more about their daily operations. Not only will this support employees’ understanding of other job functions and how their efforts play into overall business success, but it will create social interaction, collaboration, and idea-sharing amongst a distributed workforce.
3. Strategic Communication Creates Better Teamwork
During the current pandemic, with so much unknown, communicating expectations is vital.
In fact, during any crisis, communication is the single most important aspect of making teamwork work. Yet, there is a delicate balance between too much communication and just enough to be productive. Research suggests quick bursts of communication a few times a day, with periods of work in between, creates higher levels of productivity. When communication is done sporadically throughout the day, those conversations tend to be more fruitful, leading to stronger periods of work.
A case study from Edith Cowan University explains that teams work best together when they have strong leadership, communicate openly and regularly, and understand how their role and everyone else’s role contribute to the team’s overall success. This combination of soft skills is necessary for teams to be their best and create the best outcome possible for their overall objective.
4. Prioritize Integrity At The Core of Your Company’s Culture
Integrity is always important in the workplace, but it becomes absolutely necessary when your team is distributed or working fully remotely.
As a leader, this starts with communicating and building shared values. This clarity allows teams to operate more efficiently and with less oversight. Transparency must be part of the equation, as well. Be willing to admit when things go wrong, just as much as when things go right, to build a culture of psychological safety. No member of your team should be left in the dark about the overall success or failure of the business and what their expectations are as a team member. This requires candid, respectful conversations, no matter the topic or situation. Make sure teams have time to get to know one another as individuals, independent of the work, which allows for deeper, richer relationships to build the necessary bonding that builds trust.
When no one is around to monitor your distributed workforce, make sure that your work as a leader is done for you by establishing a company culture of integrity from the very beginning. Remember, you are always modeling the behavior you desire from others. Showcase your soft skills to build a cohesive team that strengthens and aligns with company values.
Having a deeply connected team, one that can work strongly together no matter the circumstances, will help carry your business through any uncertain time. Taking the steps to get to this end result can be tricky, and you may realize more help is needed. Give us a call to get started building your strongest team yet!