The best ways in which soft skills drive innovation

How can employees use soft skills to the best of their ability to give rise to innovations in the workplace? Read on to find out more!

As technology evolves, it is changing the type of skills workers need to succeed in the workplace. The rapid adoption of technology is changing process-oriented jobs like equipment installation and maintenance. However, soft skills are the fundamental attributes that allow people to interact with each other effectively, such as communication, empathy, leadership, and teamwork. Unfortunately, the current soft skill capacity in our workforce is alarmingly low. Over 40% of corporations and almost 50% of academic institutions don’t think recent graduates have the soft skills they need to thrive in the modern working world. This blog tells you the best ways in which soft skills can drive innovation.

For Presidents, CEOs, and business leaders who are using this time to refocus on their company’s innovation progress, it helps to consider the full breadth of their employees’ skill sets. Employees and business leaders sometimes focus more on the highly technical skills they’d like to cultivate and overlook the soft skills every workplace needs to become thoroughly innovative. In actuality, the so-called “soft skills” are the harder skills to develop, maintain, and refine.

Innovation stems from a steadfast commitment by the organization’s entire staff to create, embrace, and implement new ideas. These new ideas come from an understanding and valuing of the critical qualities that foster innovation: the soft skills.

What are soft skills?

Defined by the American Management Association as the Four C’s — creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking — soft skills are the transformative skills necessary for innovation to take root and grow in any organization.

How to discover these soft skills?

Discovering these soft skills and harnessing them to drive innovation is not an easy task. Finding them out requires a culture of trust. Employees should realize the fact that they are important to the progress of the organization. Once they understand this, they can trust their leaders to deal with them in good faith. Another important element is transparency. Soft skills cannot be developed without being transparent. It allows everyone to feel secure and respected. Transparency is critical, but so too is alignment.

In breaking down these barriers, you’re encouraging employees to take part in the greater needs of their organization, and building a culture that organically promotes a creative staff that is unafraid to think critically and collaboratively within a team.

How to use soft skills to drive innovation?

Know yourself

Notice your responses to new ideas, possibilities, brainstorming, and failure (your own and others). Are you the one who says, “We tried that before? It didn’t work”? Adjust your mindset to be welcoming of idea generation, knowing most new ideas fail and you only need one to succeed (like how the iPhone changed Apple’s future).

Be trusting

Make sure to give people the benefit of doubt, especially in public, and when someone is taking a risk. Safety comes when someone becomes vulnerable without fear. Share your vulnerabilities, admit when you don’t know something.

Celebrate innovation

Celebrating innovation requires a leap of faith in attempting innovation. Just like Albert Einstein said, “Failure is success in progress”. When an employee fails, ask them what they learned out of it. Reinforce behaviors positively, like smart risk-taking, learning, and putting one’s head above the parapet. This will ensure that they will be repeated.

“I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” — Thomas Edison

Listen

When people get the feeling that they are being heard out and seen as individuals, they tend to become more trusting. So listen to what they have got to say, even what they don’t say. Listen for the sake of assumptions and beliefs. By understanding people better, you can learn more about their needs and motivations.

Stay transparent

Being transparent is the next best thing one needs to do to be able to give a push to innovations. Whether it is good or bad, be transparent and honest in whatever you say. You don’t need to always speak what the other person wants to hear. Critical feedback can work wonders at times.

Say what you want

Never feel shy or doubt whether you should speak something or not. If you want more innovation, ask for it. Give people the opportunities to innovate the parameters within which they can take risks. Empower employees for better efficiency and effectiveness. Always highlight where innovation has been happening, within the organization or outside.

Coach people

Coaching people can help them find their solutions. This gives rise to resourcefulness in them and unearths their ideas. The more the ideas, whether yours or theirs, the more the options and hence, potentially better solutions.

Be curious

Always ask questions. Challenge assumptions and beliefs. Uncover the blind spots of the organization. Many people think that asking the best question in a meeting makes them look smarter. However, the smartest person in the room not only asks the best question but also makes people think about it. That’s where innovation happens!

Foster courage

Courage is the ability to face one’s fears in situations of difficulty and danger. Innovation must require the courage to take risks and try new things. This might sound similar to the aspect of vulnerability- yes it is. Courage and vulnerability are like two sides of the same coin, a vicious cycle. You can’t be courageous without being vulnerable, and vice versa.

Communication

Just like everything else, communication is a key element to drive innovation. Communicating ideas and progress can lead to better results because of better feedbacks and constant improvements in the project. Communication is key in any aspect of life- be it personal or professional. Individuals who communicate better are also more likely to be mentally stronger.

Personality development

Discovering your soft skills and putting them to work can also lead to personality development. Innovation is fostered better by those individuals who tend to have control over all their emotional aspects and have a balanced approach towards life. This can prove to be beneficial in the long run as employees can develop better personalities for their future endeavors.

Public speaking

It is very important to be able to speak at public events and keep your points in place. Making successful and popular innovations would mean having to face large crowds to share your success stories, struggles, and useful insights to all the curious. Being able to keep your point systematically and having the ability to face the public are two very crucial elements of good public speaking.

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