It is often said that employees don’t leave companies, they leave their managers, but this can be avoided if EQ training is offered to everyone, including managers
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In every workplace, employers expect employees to have both soft and hard skills to encourage a positive and functional work environment, where employees can apply their multiple disciplines. However, little importance is placed on managers possessing soft skills which would play a significant role in how they manage the business – especially if we consider that “people leave managers and not their jobs”.
There are two core skills that employers primarily look for in an efficient employee, hard and soft skills. According to Betterteam, hard skills are specific professional abilities that can be taught through education and training. Clinical Psychologist and founder of FeelSmart, Samantha Williams describes soft skills as “everything that’s not hard skills; self-awareness, self-regulation, self-esteem, self-worth, communication, empathy, critical thinking and motivation.” However, these don’t only apply to employees because in order to run a tight ship and to do so effectively, managers need to develop these EQ-based skills.
As far as the corporate environment is concerned, Williams says there are five types of intelligence which encompass soft skills; IQ, emotional intelligence, spiritual intelligence (which is about your existential being), physical intelligence (in knowing your body) and team intelligence (team dynamics and communication skills within a team). While the soft skills of employees may predominantly mirror those of managers, there are some differences. This is mainly because of the hierarchical structure in the workplace, as well as leadership styles. At the same time, Williams points out that soft skills differ between a manager and a leader because “a manager manages your work [but] a leader will help you grow and motivates you. The main skill that a leader needs to have is empathy.”
Dealing with diversity
It is important for managers to have soft skills as these help them form relations with employees, which may help detect changes in behaviour that affect work, and also assist in finding ways of reaching out and supporting employees. This is in addition to the difficulty that comes with dealing with teams that consist of diverse people, which can sometimes create conflict because of differences in outlook. Because they are working with people from diverse backgrounds with different races, genders, expectations and languages of expression, Williams says managers must be exceptionally flexible and open-minded. They have to park all judgement and biases when they enter the office space and [have] empathy.
Communication and conflict
To achieve this, Williams says leaders will need to be able “to listen actively, empathise and communicate,” while also striving to create a compassionate and empathetic culture that encourages affirmation — which will result in employees who are hardworking and passionate. She also adds that how you deal with conflict is important. “There’s a big difference between confrontation (where you immediately address issues) and conflict. If you’re not assertive and avoid conflict, then it will snowball and lead to high level conflict at which point you’ll [be forced to] bring in a professional.” You need to have confrontation/assertiveness skills to be able to communicate effectively.
Assessing your soft skills and damage control
According to Williams, your work environment will reflect whether or not you possess soft skills that make you an effective leader. “Somebody will, at some point, say to you that you don’t have tact or that you don’t have people skills; [it will] most often be people reporting to you”, she says. To develop these soft skills, “employee assistance programmes [conduct] workshops and training around soft skills [for both employers and employees]”, she says. However, sometimes the damage has already been done and you find that as a manager, you are tasked with winning your employees’ trust back. “Talk is cheap”, says Williams, adding that it isn’t going to shift people’s perceptions. She says winning your employees’ trust back is going to take time, as the trust evolves, the relationships will transition with it. “Empathy isn’t something too hard to express yet at the same time it’s the most difficult thing to have. People will feel it if it’s there,” she says.