5 ways to implement soft skills to retain talent

Thursday, April 19, 2018 - 06:45

As a manager, your people are by far your most valuable resource so retaining them should always be among your top priorities.

So as a manager, how can you retain the best people on your team?

In simple terms, the answer is soft skills. As a manager, you possess functional or hard skills in your field. Soft skills refer to those essential people skills such as mindfulness, emotional intelligence and people leadership to name a few.

Here are five ways soft skills can help keep your best people on board:

1. People leadership - set expectations and stick to them

Everyone wants to do a good job, but if they don’t know what “good” actually entails, they won’t know what they’re striving to achieve. As much as we’d like to believe that everyone should be a self-starting go-getter, the majority of people are used to a power dynamic where their manager exerts a certain level of control and sets minimum expectations of performance. Schedule regular time with every employee to ensure the goals you’ve set for them are achievable and that they still fit the context of your organisation, as organisational priorities are fluid in nature.

2. Step back - give your team room to move

Once you’ve set expectations, it’s time to take a step back and let them learn to swim on their own. Granting autonomy to your employees empowers them to take ownership of their roles and provides them with the opportunities to grow personally and professionally. While it can be tempting to take over certain tasks to ensure they’re completed on time, this robs your employees of the self-confidence they need to perform at their best.

3. Approachable leadership - keep an open-door policy

It’s a term that might seem old-fashioned in the age of open plan offices, but it simply means being available and approachable to employees when they need your guidance. No matter how busy you might be, it’s your role as a manager to answer questions and solve problems for your team members, especially if the tasks involved require signoff from senior leadership. If you’re struggling to find time to answer your team members’ questions, it’s a sign that you need to delegate some of your workload. Ignoring or rebuffing requests for help is basically pointing your employees towards the exit sign.

4. Emotionally intelligent leadership

You may not be aware of your behaviour as a leader 100% of the time, but rest assured, your team members certainly are. Everything you say and do, as well as the things you don’t, is observed and evaluated by your employees. They subconsciously measure your performance against their expectations of good leadership and use your every move, including non-verbal cues and body language, to make up their mind about whether you’re the sort of leader they want to work for. Emotionally intelligent leaders are aware of this dynamic at all times and adjust their behaviour appropriately.

5. Provide opportunities for growth

When you hire an employee, they’re starting a new role with a range of responsibilities and projects for them to sink their teeth into. While they’re bright eyed and bushy tailed in the beginning, if the tasks they’re completing on a daily, weekly and monthly basis stay exactly the same, they’ll eventually feel as though they’re stuck in a rut, leading them to start considering their options. Keep things fresh by creating new roles and offering opportunities for promotion. Most important of all, offer them the chance to learn new skills and knowledge through workplace training and formal qualifications.

There’s a saying that “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers”, which has an element of truth to it, as managers exercise the greatest influence over a person’s decision to move on. Understanding this is the first step to keeping your superstar employees on board but after that, there is no magic formula for influencing somebody to stay. It’s up to you to put the work in and invest time in your people if you really want them to stick around.

Looking to upskill as a leader? Benefit from a world-class MBA program, career coaching, short courses, and networking lounges with AIM’s game-changing MBA+ or request a callback from an AIM Senior Learning Advisor in order to discuss your MBA-related questions.