Time To Go Soft

Why spending your remaining budget on ‘soft skills’ is a proper Christmas present for your business.

Christmas is coming. And so is New Year. After that, it’s back to work – and for many organisations, a looming year end in the last week of March before any proper new start. No doubt you’ll be looking at your staff development plans from April going forward. And for sure, the skills you’ll be investing in will be pretty ‘hard’ and deemed essential for your business.

That’s why now’s the time to play it clever and be a bit strategic. Communication, presentation, influencing and strategic thinking are all essential skills for the modern business – especially in an age of metrics, data and similar playgrounds of the ‘left brain’. I’ve lost count of the number of times data or digital staff have complained that the sales teams don’t seem to understand them. Or the number of people who look aghast when it’s revealed to them that being able to give a good, engaging and memorable presentation is now a key requirement of any mid to senior team member in pretty much any business. And don’t even go there with assertiveness skills among millennials …

The great thing is – so called ‘soft skills’ don’t catch you out like the others. Soft skills remain pretty constant. They don’t go out of date as technology changes. They don’t need updating or replacing to go with new licences. In fact, they haven’t changed too much since the days of that big old ‘softie’, Cicero – the undisputed Rex Supremus of all things to do with communication and the spoken word.

Whether you agree with the above, or you’re such a ‘hard nut’ that you just need to spend your training budget before the end of your year, this is the time to think about those attributes among your teams which are often so frustratingly difficult to measure. It’s true there’s often no obvious key metric in this area – but speaking, writing, persuading and convincing are nonetheless killer differentiators in the battle to make your business’s voice louder than those of your competitors. Your product is nothing if your people can’t communicate it both internally and externally. And in an era dominated by the hard stuff – going soft now could be the difference that makes the difference in 2017. Merry Christmas – and a Happy, Soft New Year.

Scott Solder is a communication coach and consultant.