UGH…I cannot tell you how often I have to battle with someone who says the phrase, “soft skills,” or makes a statement that refers to me as the “warm and fuzzy lady.” STOP. There is nothing warm and fuzzy or soft about skills that get work done and add to the bottom line.
Why Are They Called “Soft” Skills?
The term evolved largely because we could not measure these skills (before the 2000s) like we can measure metrics like Average Speed of Answer or Abandon Rate.
What we could measure were attrition and turnover. What is the cost associated with that? According to The Undercover Recruiter, bad hires cost $240,000 in expenses related to hiring, compensation, and retention. According to Career Builder, 74% of companies who admit they've hired the wrong person for a position lost an average of $14,900 for each bad hire.
That is just the hiring/firing aspect and raises the question of why are we not hiring more on the emotional intelligence (EI) side than technical knowledge or education? Because typically, in the past, we have not known how. We can now.
What about the cost of gossip, slander, offense, failure to deal with conflict, fear to speak out to someone such as a manager about their bad behavior? The time wasted is enormous, and the cost matches that. Rarely, in the past has it been a consideration. That has changed in our current work environment and it should impact you and your behavior.
Consider Them Essential Skills
We have been able to measure and psychometrically validate all these essential skills since the early 2000s. Like the VCR when it first came out, these assessments were very expensive. Now, not so much!
- Would you not want to know the areas to use in your “soft skills allotment” that are your strengths?
- Would you not want to know what you should build for better results?
We say it all the time, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it!” So, if you have never measured these skills, it is time to do so. Just ask me how.
Today, I can measure your intrinsic ability to be empathetic (or not). I can measure your optimism level (over time in your belief system and a situational affect). I can measure how you see yourself versus how your direct reports see you, how your management sees you, how your peers see you, how your family sees you. We can identify why that difference is between groups and their response, if there is one, exists and work with you on how to change and tweak those things that need to be addressed.
With the ability to measure these essential skills, they are no longer soft. We can see and quantify the wreckage of time and money that happens when there is a lack of these skills or a lack of desire to build them. They are hard skills, and they are essential.
Measure It to Manage It
You know yourself pretty well so you will know what comes easy to you…you will also know what you have to work at. That is powerful. What is even more powerful is to have it measured, so you know for sure and stop guessing. Reminder, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.
Here is a list of competencies from several different models of Emotional Intelligence (EI) and Emotional Quotient (EQ) that we have been measuring for 20 years (through IHHP and Six Seconds models and competencies) .
Self Awareness/Know Yourself
- Emotional Self Awareness: Recognizing and knowing what and why you feel that way
- Self Assessment: Do you see yourself in a realistic way
- Self Regard: Self-care and appreciation
- Emotional literacy: Being able to identify emotions
- Recognizing patterns
Emotional Management/Choose Yourself
- Navigate Emotions
- Engage Intrinsic Motivation
- Exercise Optimism
- Apply Consequential Thinking
- Impulse Control
- Personal Drive
Emotional Connection/Give Yourself
- Increase Empathy
- Pursue Noble Goals
- Coaching Others
Below is a small sample of a Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Assessment (SEI®) based upon their model of EQ. You will see their competencies and how they are measured. As a certified coach and handler of this assessment, what I would do is read it and correlate the information that is important for you to know, discuss your desires to improve in these areas, and build an approach for you.
Even more important than the individual, we can measure the EQ of the entire team and see how that dynamic is working in the culture of an organization.
Recently I have seen the lack of EQ skills in a director have such an impact on the employees and consultants of a large company that some of the best and most dedicated people are leaving and taking all that knowledge, tenure, and enthusiasm with them…because of ONE person. That person is clueless because everyone is afraid to talk to them, and their upper management does not get it. This is a theme I have seen over and over for more than 30 years, and we need to address it.
At the end of the day, you can have all the processes, all the technology and all the knowledge that you want, BUT if you don’t have people who know how to work together, play in the same sandbox, know how to communicate with one another in a mature and adult fashion, you are going nowhere fast. The legacy you leave will have a bad taste for years to come and everyone will remember you, and not in a kind way.
If you don’t have people who know how to work together…you are going nowhere fast.
Everyone Must Step Up
In many of my HDI courses, I talk about what makes extraordinary leaders. Consider these three categories:
- Intelligence (IQ)
- Emotional Intelligence
Of the three, emotional intelligence of the manager/executive is ALWAYS the clear motivator for buy-in at every level in an organization. We don't care if you are smart or have a good education. We do care if you are fair, if you listen, if you empower, if you collaborate well, if you have integrity, if you are authentic, etc.
On the other side, it is ALWAYS the lack of emotional intelligence that stirs the pot to fury and chaos, both in the ranks and in management. No one escapes when even one person has a gap in these skills.
If you don’t have these skills, there is nothing soft about the result. The result is losing people or leaving an organization yourself because your management does not practice this. Or plainly, you get yourself fired because you are lacking these skills.
There is nothing wrong with absent skills initially. No one comes to the game fully formed. We must learn and put effort into working on these things ourselves, largely because they were not and are not often taught in our schools.
I am not talking about personality models here like Myers Briggs, DISC, Colors, or the many others out there. No one can fire you for your personality or lack of one! I am talking about the competencies in EQ that I listed above.
Let us change our schema and attitude towards these essential skills. They are as important if not more important than IQ and technical knowledge and education in building a cooperative and thriving, cutting-edge culture. Harvard did a 30-year study on the determiners of success. EQ came in as determining someone's success over 40% of the time while having a high IQ or a super high education determined someone's success only 6–9% of the time.
Do you really care if your boss has a master’s degree? What you do care about is that they just embarrassed you in front of all your peers by degrading and yelling at you. That experience will influence how you work with that person. It will influence your extra effort. It will influence your creativity in solving problems and it may start a job search. One more time, if you don’t have these skills, there is nothing soft about the result.
The good news is that these skills can be grown and mature. It is up to you, the effort you put in and the thought process on what you want to create in your work culture.
Deborah will be teaching the pre-conference workshop, Desktop Support Manager, at SupportWorld Live!
Deborah Monroe is one of 18 Master EQ practitioners in the world, through the Global EQ Community of Six Seconds. She's also an associate with the Institute for Organizational Performance and an HDI business associate. Working with all levels of executive leadership, management, and individual contributors, Deborah concentrates on integrating humans and process to create a balanced working environment. Her aim is to build understanding and empathy, creating a positive bottom line through employee and customer retention.