3 Ways Soft Skills Can Enhance Your Career
by Cary J. Green, PhD
Soft skills are essential for success in the modern workplace. Soft skills help you create and maintain relationships, enable you to express your ideas, and contribute to your overall effectiveness. Soft skills essential to your career include communication, problem-solving, team-orientation, time management, goal setting, conflict management, and accountability.
If you want to enhance your current career and set yourself up for advancement, be sure your soft skills are up to par. This article discusses how soft skills can boost your productivity, help you manage your reputation, and create upward mobility.
Boost Your Productivity
Career success demands productivity. Be sure you fully understand the expectations and duties of your position. If you have been in your position for a while, review your position description with your supervisor to ensure it’s still accurate and aligns with company goals. Consider your position description to be the minimum requirements. Be willing to step up your game when needed.
Effective time management and goal setting are soft skills that will boost your productivity. Set goals based on your position description, and incorporate performance review feedback as needed. Outline the steps required to reach each goal. Estimate how long each step will take, and determine its deadline. Block out time for each step in your calendar, and prioritize your time to stay on track.
Team-orientation also boosts your productivity. Demonstrate team-orientation by contributing to and supporting your team even when your input doesn’t drive team direction. Effective team members focus more on results and less on who gets the credit.
Manage Your Reputation
Your reputation has a great influence on your career. You build a solid reputation by establishing trust, and you establish trust by demonstrating soft skills such as professionalism, accountability, and a strong work ethic.
Professionalism refers to standards of behavior and performance in the workplace. Demonstrate professionalism in every aspect of your job. Stick to your values, and never sacrifice your integrity. Follow through on every commitment you make. Carry out all your activities to the best of your ability. Strive to exceed expectations.
Managing your reputation also requires accountability. In addition to being accountable for your productivity, be accountable for your attitude and mistakes. You can control your attitude even though you may not be able to control your circumstances. Your positive attitude provides the motivation you need to achieve all you can. A positive attitude gives you the confidence to embrace challenges that expand and refine your skills.
Manage your reputation by recognizing and taking responsibility for mistakes. Apologize, and fix the mistake if possible. Remember that mistakes can catalyze your professional growth. Learn from your mistake, ensure you don’t repeat it, and move on.
Create Upward Mobility
Productivity and a solid reputation are great career enhancers. You can further enhance your career and create upward mobility by demonstrating the soft skills of communication, problem-solving, and conflict management.
Effective communication skills are essential for advancing in your career. A great message communicated poorly becomes a poor message. Craft your messages clearly and concisely, and provide sufficient background and context so that your messages are understood.
Effective communicators are great listeners. Refine your active listening skills by focusing on the conversation at hand, and ask questions when you need clarification. Wait for a natural pause in the conversation, rather than interrupting, and then speak up.
Regardless of the nature of your work, problems will occur in the workplace. Strong problem-solving skills contribute to your upward mobility. The first step to solving a problem is clearly defining the problem so you know where to start looking for the solution. Develop a few potential solutions by thinking creatively. Get input from coworkers as needed. Then implement the best solution, and assess the results. If you didn’t succeed the first time, tweak your solution until you solve the problem.
Effective conflict management skills also are essential for upward mobility. Quickly addressing the conflict can prevent it from worsening. Similar to defining a problem, discerning the source of conflict is important to finding a solution. The current conflict may be symptomatic of a deeper issue.
Push towards a win-win solution. Stay flexible, and be willing to compromise. Doing so does not require you to sacrifice your values or integrity, but recognize that you may not get everything you want.
A well-developed set of soft skills can enhance your career. Take advantage of professional development opportunities to hone your soft skills, and ask your mentor for help. This investment in yourself will pay dividends throughout your career.
About the Author
By integrating leadership skills, soft skills, and academic success skills, Dr. Green empowers students to enhance their academic performance while building career-readiness skills that employers seek. Visit Cary J. Green’s blog for information on his new book, Success Skills for High School, College, and Career.
Images by Cary J. Green and Pixabay