Guest Blog by John Mancuso
While soft skills are hard to quantify, they can be measured. And if soft skills dictate the lion’s share of a person’s success or failure and reside in root causes of skill gaps and interpersonal conflicts, they need to be measured. So how can this be achieved? Let’s explore.
“Unprofessional,” “not committed” and “inflexible” are phrases that come to mind when describing soft skill deficiencies. When such statements are delivered directly from managers—as they often are—they can be perceived as “fighting words” from their employees. It would take an extraordinary subordinate to think that such criticisms are constructive; most would consider them hollow insults and could lead to turnover. When somebody can write off such comments so easily, an opportunity to see some legitimate truth in them is lost.
Consider the person who does everything she’s asked during business hours, shows up on time and gets along well with others. This is also the same person who never takes that next step to engage a customer, rarely covers a shift for a co-worker and infrequently stays a minute after she’s required. From her manager’s perspective, her overall commitment is a problem. This employee, however, can easily negate the “not committed” criticism because she’s done everything expected of her—as far as she knows. It’s likely nobody has ever defined commitment in a way that she and her fellow employees can navigate (and mutually understand). In other words, in order for her to satisfy performance expectations, she has to read the often contradictory and mercurial minds of her leaders.
Most people are skeptical that things like “commitment” can be defined and measured, yet the word commitment, and many others like it, appears in job descriptions and performance reviews—and in some situations, gets tied to pay increases. That’s a lot at stake for a concept about which people have a limited vocabulary to discuss and understand.
So, what does commitment look like on paper in largely objective and relatable terms? While it would depend on an organization’s work rules, culture, core values, etc., commitment can be measured by such things as: the number of trainings an employee has volunteered to complete, the number of professional organizations and/or affinity groups an employee joins, the number of optional team building events an employee attends—or even helps organize. That’s the beauty of this! Leaders can get creative by choosing metrics that are most valuable, appropriate and relevant to their organization and business goals—and that also resonate with their employees.
What words in your job descriptions, performance reviews and policy manuals do you take for granted that all of your organization’s employees understand–and can achieve through actionable, measurable behaviors? If you are uncertain and/or could use some additional training on the topic of soft skills for leaders, consider attending one of our Cannabis Trainers hosted supervisor trainings! https://cannabistrainers.com/supervisor-skills-training/
John Mancuso, Owner/Founder of Authentic Communication Matters, has written and facilitated learning experiences for executives, managers, administrators, hourly contributors, college professors and students in a variety of industries, both public and private. John has served as keynote speaker, garnered numerous creative and academic publications–including textbooks, ancillary teaching resources and creative prose in both fiction and nonfiction. Additionally, John taught English for many years at the post-secondary level. In his last in-house position, he served as Director of Curriculum and Programs (and internal training consultant) for North America’s largest transportation agency, the New York City Transit Authority (MTA).
John has a certificate in Adult Learning Transfer from the City University of New York; a BS in Mass Communications from Emerson College in Boston, Mass.; an MA in English from Middlebury College in Middlebury, VT; and an MA in fiction writing from the University of Texas at Austin.
Learn more about John and his organization by visiting https://www.authenticcommunicationmatters.com/