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Why Soft Skills Shouldn’t Be Hard To Come By In The Workplace

When you think of team building, what comes to mind? An obstacle course, a bowling outing, a night out at a restaurant? How about a holiday party? Something that will get people together to allow them to mingle? Sounds good. But the impact doesn’t last.

After the last obstacle course is run and the final piña colada is downed, the team goes back to work, and there is still a separation.

Any smart leader knows that cohesive teams are more productive, and by extension, will make the company more money. If decision makers truly care about bringing a team together, they should focus on trust, because a lack of trust will cost them.

FranklinCovey, founded by Stephen Covey, who has spent a lifetime studying trust and its importance in the workplace, writes that “High trust is a dividend while low trust is a tax. High trust is a great ‘accelerator,’ increasing speed and decreasing costs in every dimension. The impact of trust is dramatic and pervasive. It’s something you can’t escape.”

Trust is something you can’t manufacture. It has to be authentic. It’s born in the willingness to be vulnerable and real with one another. One way to measure trust is by seeing how comfortable our team members are sharing their personal story with one another.

On the second day of a recent workshop I ran, Julie stood in front of the room and shared a story about losing her father at a young age. It was something she never shared with her co-workers. But as she told the story, others in the group relayed similar experiences of losing a loved one. There was the director of operations who lost his father and another employee who lost both her parents. A bond was formed in that room.

Often, employees feel that their personal story has no place in the corporate setting. But this is the very reason why teams are separated and often become dysfunctional.

This concept is gaining traction in the corporate environment, as Mike Robbins shares in Bring Your Whole Self to Work. This doesn’t happen by chance. Employees need both the tools and the permission to be able to express themselves.

This is why my public speaking training programs always include the personal story. An employee may already have a desire to share authentically, so giving them the skills to do so is the proactive approach.

Companies of the past focused on the bottom line and saw connection and speaking skills as soft skills that were less important. This is becoming less and less common in environments that are focused on creating a highly engaged culture.

In a 2015 Deloitte survey on employee well-being, more than half of millennial’s said that “knowing more about their CEO’s experiences in managing work and life would have a positive impact on their feelings about their workplace.” The survey also said that only 10% of employees “discuss personal life commitments with direct managers,” and 59% say that co-workers have “the greatest impact on their happiness.”

Companies that want to increase revenue, engage employees, retain employees and operate in a growth mindset can take the next step by focusing on building bridges between co-workers. This starts with employees feeling comfortable sharing their personal story. The 10% of the workforce who feel comfortable are the lucky ones — but good businesses aren’t built on luck.

As a leader who is tasked with improving the morale of your staff, my advice is to keep it simple. To be happy in our environment, we need to feel comfortable communicating openly. It’s the best measure of a functional team: How much does the team trust each other and how well do they communicate?

Read More: Forbes