People Management
6 min.

The 7 Professional Soft Skills You Need

Véronique Forest
Last updated on 6 Dec. 2023
Published on 2 Feb. 2021
Jeune gestionnaire en train de développer ses aptitudes professionnelles pour devenir une meilleure leader

Soft skills is the umbrella term for the attitudes and behaviors a person adopts in their everyday life. Developing such skills is crucial to stand out as a manager and as an employee.

Table of contents

In the workplace, a person’s professional soft skills are notably reflected in their ability to work in a team, communicate, and organize. They are what makes a truly competent employee stand out in both their work and behavior.

Soft skills relate to a person’s attitude and values. They are therefore integral to their interpersonal skills and are reflected in their behavior at work.

They are what allows you to create relationships based on trust with your colleagues, which is essential if you are to lead a team.

Of course, soft skills aren’t only for managers or those who aspire to manage. Employees too can develop them to better advance their careers.

1. Adaptability

The professional world is in constant flux, that much is obvious. This makes adaptability a top skill for both managers and employees.

Adaptability is the ability to change according to events and the environment without unduly restricting oneself.

Anyone who can’t adapt to change will sooner lose heart when a problem arises. An adaptable person, however, will look for innovative solutions and come up with new ideas. Adaptability translates to resilience in the long run.

No matter what your field of work is, you will without a doubt face numerous changes throughout your career. You had better get comfortable with the idea. Fighting change and refusing to adapt seldom is a winning strategy.

How can adaptability be developed? Stay open-minded. Be ready to challenge the status quo by thinking outside the box.

2. Good Communication

Communication is easy to learn but hard to master, even though it’s the cornerstone of any relationship.

So, what do great communicators have in common?

  • They use the proper channels (email, one-on-one conversation, telephone, text messaging, etc.);
  • They express themselves clearly and convey their expectations;
  • They know how to listen.

As for just about anything, practice makes perfect. Ask your team for comments or advice so that you can improve.

Centralize your communications.

Create a professional communication space for you and your team.

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Don’t forget that communication can be written as well as verbal. If you want to improve as a manager, you must master both types.

3. Organization

Only once in my lifetime did I have a disorganized boss, but I remember it like it was yesterday. For instance, he could never answer our questions, had a lot of trouble training newcomers, and always came in late. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say that working with him was rather demotivating.

As a manager, you must lead by example. Why should your staff be on time if you’re not? To become a role model for your team, you must be able to set priorities and manage your time (and that of others). This will spare you a lot of stress.

You have a hard time dealing with employee scheduling? Use tools that make you more efficient like an employee scheduling software. The frustration of your employees will be reduced and the morale of all the team will improve.

How can you be more organized? Discipline is key. Start by setting small objectives and doing away with procrastination. You will certainly come up with tricks to help you be more structured.

4. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the one skills all managers should have. It’s a powerful tool that allows you to better lead your team.

A lack of emotional intelligence often translates into absolutely unprofessional behavior. A colleague once told me about an old boss of hers that was woefully lacking in the EQ (emotional quotient) department. When stress took hold of him, he would make decisions on a whim, moved only by his momentary emotional intensity. He’d forget to put things in context.

For example, after losing an important client, he decided to send an intern to a partner agency for the rest of their internship, fearing he wouldn’t be able to pay him. The cherry on top? He announced the news during a social gathering, in front of the whole team.

Emotional intelligence lets you resolve conflicts more easily and better support your employees. But above all, it makes you more empathetic and frankly pleasant to be around.

To develop your emotional intelligence, get better acquainted with your emotions, your values, and what motivates you. This will allow you to become a better manager.

5. Collaboration

As a manager, you must be a good team player, but even better at getting your team to collaborate efficiently. To do so, develop a bond of trust with them.

To foster good collaboration, your communication must revolve around feedback. Don’t hesitate to congratulate your employees for their achievements, but also discuss anything that could be improved in a constructive way. Encourage your teammates to do the same.

The key to good collaboration is good relations between the members of your team. Plan team activities regularly so that everyone can get to know each other in a relaxed setting. Encourage your team to enjoy themselves at work.

Despite what some may think, having friends at work is a very good thing. At least, it works great for us!

6. Leadership

Leadership lets you display your capacity to lead, inspire, and rally a team. Some people are natural leaders. If that’s not the case for you, however, don’t panic: leadership can be worked on.

Here are a few tips:

  • Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses;
  • Get advice from those around you;
  • Surround yourself with inspiring and competent people;
  • Learn to be a team player.

7. Creativity

When you think of a “creative” person, who comes to mind? No doubt people you know who are artists at heart. But they don’t have a monopoly on creativity.

To be creative also means to be able to come up with innovative solutions, think critically, and have exceptional analytical skills. All these skills are essential to having success in the professional world.

Creativity can take many forms; you just have to go beyond the mundane. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get everything right the first time around. It’s what allows us to learn and grow.

Soft Skills Make You Stand Out

Beyond the knowledge and abilities needed to get your everyday work done, your soft skills are what will make you a key actor within your organization.

The skills you’ll take the time to develop will without a doubt be of use in your work and personal life.

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