What are Business Soft Skills?

It's not how fast you type.

getting along


Many years ago, while in a management role, I was involved in navigating a difficult situation that came up between two employees. Large chunks of time were taken up in meetings with the employees and upper management. Many hours of productivity were lost because of this issue that was almost overwhelming at the time.

Unfortunately, scenarios like this are not isolated. Ask any business leader if they’ve had to spend time coaching or even disciplining an employee who didn’t have the best of people skills, or who couldn’t manage their time well, and many will say a resounding “yes.”

When preparing this article, I asked people on my Facebook list to simply “like” the post if they’d experienced lack of productivity on a team because of an employees lack of people or productivity skills. Over 35 people liked the post and a few added comments. That’s 35 different companies adversely affected by lack of “soft skills,” and I’m sure that’s a small number compared to reality.

Business soft skills are the character traits, attitudes and self-management strategies that you carry with you throughout your career, no matter what position you have. They are measured more in terms of relational success and productivity than with tangible metrics.  Soft skills are not about how many words a minute you type, or how fast you can create an Excel spreadsheet with formulas. It’s about how you get along with others, manage your time, and communicate. Soft skills can have a huge impact on the bottom line because productivity is often very affected by how successful (or not) employees and their bosses are in these areas. Training can be  rewarding and sometimes frustrating because these skills are impacted in a big way by a person’s natural personality, emotions, and life experiences.

There are a number of soft skills that are worthwhile to “brush up on” from time to time. These include:

  • Communication
  • Leadership, Coaching, Mentoring
  • Time Management
  • Teamwork/Teambuilding
  • Emotional Intelligence/Personality Styles (the ability to self-govern and also observe and influence working relationships)
  • Customer service
  • Organizing, planning and productivity

I encourage you to invest in your own soft skills on a regular basis by reading good books and resources, and taking classes, whether through formal training such as what I do as a contract trainer through CCT Business Training, Lunch and Learns, or books and online courses.  

(And a word to bosses…more than one student wishes their supervisor would be made to take the same classes they are sent to. Set the example by continuing to learn yourself.)

PS: I’m currently doing a local series of Lunch and Learns for a company of about 25 employees. They hired me to come in every three weeks during the summer to present a topic related to being more organized and more productive. Contact me if you’d like more information on this service, or online options for those outside upstate South Carolina.


Guest Post: 7 Ways to Make Your Home Office Work Better for You

For busy professionals who have the option to work from home sometimes, this helpful photo article from Houszz can give you tips to help you make it more effective. I love the ideas about having nature nearby. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by woods, but this encourages me to think about getting the bird feeder pole outside my office window going again.

If you don’t have the privilege/challenge of working from home, you might be able to incorporate some of these ideas at your place of employment.

Which of these 7 tips are something you’d like to do with your workspace?

Com-MIT to your Most Important Thing

Inspired by #winningwell

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Being a generalist is my specialty–people hire me to take care of the little things. As a Virtual Assistant and business owner, I have a myriad of little tasks each week to keep up with, for my clients and myself. Although I help overwhelmed professionals excel, I can feel overwhelmed too.

So what’s a busy pro to do?

Take some advice from the exceptional book, Winning Well, by Karin Hurt & David Dye.* Ask yourself,

What’s the Most Important Thing?

On the day I am writing this, I am booked to teach the first of a summer lunch and learn series for a local company. My comMITment to them is the most important thing for today. Yes, I have a list of other things to do, but my mind needs to be primarly focused on serving that group well.

Since that comMITment is not going to take the entire day, there are other important things I can and should plan for.  Things like:  wrapping up details from another speaking assignment. Investing in some VA client work. Taking some time for myself and a current hobby.  Conveniently some of these can take place in the vicinity of that company, and after I’m finished, so it will be an efficient use of the rest of the day.

So for me, MIT can become “multiple important things.”  (I bet you have those days, too.)

However, the concept of the MOST important thing still applies. The other things I mentioned don’t HAVE to be done today. But my comMITment to that company is priority.  Returning to that focus when I start to feel scatterbrained will help me stay centered. So, now it’s time to go review and make sure I have everything ready. (After I make a cup of coffee.)

Your turn: What is your MIT for today?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.


*I am privileged to be the Virtual Assistant for Winning Well and am thrilled they are one of my clients. But having just finished the book, I can tell you without bias that it is excellent. Visit my store for this book and more products I recommend.