Encouraging The Use of Basic Soft Skills for Mutual Success

woman looking at laptop

As employers, it’s easy to expect that when hiring a young professional, they’re going to come in ready to work. While they may indeed be ready to work, they might not be fully prepared for the changes and dynamics that come along with transitioning from college to career.

Most often, employers find there is a gap in basic skills. When we say basic skills, we’re talking things that truly aren’t rocket science like taking notes and asking effective questions. However, they still are “perishable skills” that are causing gaps for young employees and employers.

While it is not your job as an employer to hold their hand and tell them step by step what to do, it is your job to provide them with the systems and processes to re-learn these basic skills for application in the workplace.

How to Reinforce Basic Skills to Develop a Successful Employee

Most young professionals are still embracing the “will it be on the test?” mentality. This mentality is that if they’re not going to be quizzed on it later, they’re not going to soak up the knowledge, pose useful questions, or sometimes even pay attention at all.

This is the mentality you want them to overcome and it requires consistent reinforcement and guidance from your managers. For example, let’s think about note taking. Most young, college-educated employees took rigorous notes so they could pass a test. However, we bet that very few (if any) professors told them this was a skill they could use once in the workforce. So, make sure they understand why they were taught these skills and how they can use them in their day-to-day life to become successful.

What you want to do is follow the learn, practice, and ask questions framework. Encourage them to practice skills like note taking in each and every meeting. If they have questions afterwards, encourage them to ask. Practice makes perfect, but asking well-informed questions and keeping communication open also really helps.

Two Key Strategies to Inspire Employees to Practice Basic Skills

As we mentioned, it’s not all on you as the employer to re-teach your employee these basic skills. However, just like exercise, if you don’t do it you lose the muscle. Exercising these basic skills in day-to-day work situations will allow employees to regain that muscle memory and thrive.

Encourage Open Communication

Communication is key when it comes to mentoring young professionals in the workplace. Often, they’ve been taught that if they don’t understand something it’s on them; they need to do what they can to achieve that positive outcome. But many are afraid to admit they don’t understand, and afraid to admit they aren’t perfect. So, they end up wasting time and spinning their wheels, which causes them to not provide quality work. Encourage them to ask questions, encourage them to come to you when they don’t understand something, encourage them to share their thoughts on a project, and offer clear feedback in return. Communication is a basic skill that everyone needs to succeed in the workplace; sometimes, they just need a little push.

Provide Frameworks for Effective Task Execution

Taking notes in college may be different than taking notes for professional use. While the first step is getting them to take notes at all, you can provide them with a format for taking effective notes during meetings to help promote positive business outcomes.

For example, the business workflow management tool Monday recommends splitting your notes into three sections: key points, action items, and ideas. This way, you capture the important discussions in the meeting, what the follow-up tasks are, and are able to share creative opinions based upon your thoughts about the discussion — which also encourages critical thinking, another perishable skill. Richard Branson once shared, “Some of Virgin’s most successful companies have been born from random moments — if we hadn’t opened our notebooks, they would never have happened.” Notes can have a big impact on business, so encourage employees to use these processes to successfully take notes in a way that gets them thinking instead of just writing some things down for the heck of it.

Effective Management for Mutual Success in the Workplace

When providing a framework and consistent communication, your managers must also understand that not everyone will have the same learning styles or styles of working. Our NimblyWise courses can help your managers learn how to effectively guide their team to practice these perishable skills for mutual success in the workplace. Chat with our team to learn how to get back to the basics to help your team and business succeed!