Most managers thrive when it comes to evaluating an employee’s success related to the hard skills of a role. Achieving measurable quotas or directly contributing to profit are black-and-white and leave little room for interpretation. The challenge most face is in evaluating the soft skills of every role. The key is to define what those desired soft skills mean to you! Today we talk why soft skills matter and how to define them.

Subjectivity and Why Measurement Matters

Imagine hiring a new employee who understands the expectation that they work hard. One hiring manager may define “working hard” as working ten-hour days and fifty hours per week. Another manager may think it means twelve-hour days and seventy hours per week. It’s too often subjective and depends on a variety of factors within an organization.
The ability to measure more than performance will not only help ensure the right strategic hire but help avoid future frustrating year-end evaluations. The premise of the bestselling book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” is a popular paradigm for this same issue. Problems in any relationship arise when two individuals have differing understandings of exceptional, average, or unacceptable behaviors and expectations.

The Spectrum of Soft Skills

To become effective at evaluating soft skills you don’t need to write down every possible personality trait, communication style, and interpersonal skill. Your first step should be to think about what is most critical to a new hire’s success.  Qualities like being driven, possessing high integrity, being empathetic, or being an innovative thinker are good examples of this. Think about why those qualities are important to your organization.

Team Effort

Knowing what someone’s soft skills are is critical when working in teams. Holding employees to newly defined interpersonal skills can be a much more successful endeavor when those employees have played an active part in the creation and explanation of those skills. Take some of these prized soft skills and put together a “playbook” that can be referenced by an employee within your organization.

If you think about any great athletic team, one of the hallmarks of a great team is a great playbook. It’s full of strategy, knowledge, and standard practices. The entire team needs to know exactly what the plays are and how things are supposed to play out. When things aren’t clear in your organization this can result in inconsistent messaging, employees going rogue, and frustrations within the team.

Where to Begin

Once you make a list of crucial soft skills to measure you need to dive deeper. If you want a good listener, what does that look like? This is where you might write that a good listener doesn’t multi-tasking during a conversation, maintains eye contact,  rarely interrupts or finishes sentences, asks clarifying or expanding questions, and sometimes takes notes.

Keep going deeper. Now, what are all of the ways that multi-tasking can manifest itself in a meeting or conversation? The answers to this question can provide the first measurable definitions of a previously un-measurable situation. You can now say that someone avoids answering or checking their phone during meetings, turns off their computer, or closes the office door.

Putting the Soft Skill into Practice

Once you know what soft skills you want to praise publicly declare your deliberate measurable changes. Request that your team and/or peers help hold you accountable for the gradual improvement of this skill. If you can’t be a good listener yourself how can you expect others to be too?  This can be where trust is strengthened or broken between management and employees.

Foundation of Trust

It is important to address a final challenge which is an employee’s receptiveness toward being coached. Even with a great playbook, clear expectations, and excellent coaching, not every employee will be an active player in this new game. You must accept that there may be individuals within the team who are limited by their own desires and capabilities. Try your best to focus on those who are willing and able to participate.

The defining and implementing of soft skills will help create a long-term roadmap for successful professional partnerships. Through these tips, you will provide a foundation of trust and universal standards of expected behavior and performance. Guaranteed!

About Us

With over 90 years of Logistics experience, Top Talent is a recognized leader in Talent Acquisition for Logistics, Transportation, and Supply Chain., Let us put our team to work for you. To learn more about successful strategies for getting those impact players and game-changers on your team, reach out to us today.

– Michael Monson
President and CEO
Top Talent LLC