An organisation’s people are key to its success and give a business its competitive edge. Yet, so often businesses fail to help their people develop this edge. They go half-way; ensuring their people have great ‘technical’ knowledge and skills then stop at the ‘business’ skills their people need. If you missed my article on why these skills matter, click here.

In 2019, LinkedIn released its 2019 Global Talent Trends research, a study that summarises job and hiring data across millions of people. It revealed:

  • 91% of companies cited that ‘soft’ skills are a key need in their business.
  • However, 80% of companies are struggling to find better soft skills in the market.

Clearly there is a gap in terms of making the time and investment in developing these skills in teams. Often, it’s because it’s hard to know what to start with.  Unlike technical skills, ‘soft’ skills can be seen to merge somewhat. However, they are distinct skills that can be learnt, improved and perfected so that your people have the ‘edge’.

Let’s look at each of them in turn.

 The nine skills your people need to give your business the edge

You can read more about each skill in my guide, The overlooked skills your people need to give your company a competitive advantage – request it here. Below, I’ve given you a short overview of each skill and some areas to consider to help you begin to assess if this is an area your people need to work on.

  1. Positive Personal Impact

Why this matters:

Personal Impact is a combination of how we come across and how people perceive us. The impact your people make on others affects the relationships they build with them. Creating and maintaining good relationships are key to business performance therefore managing your personal impact is crucial.

Consider: Whether your people come across confidently and build rapport well. In which situations they do this less well?

  1. Managing ‘Office Politics’ Positively

Why this matters:

Where there are different people with different values, assumptions, motivations and behaviours, ‘Office Politics’ happens. When it is negative and poisonous, it really impacts your business.

While Office Politics is universally viewed as a negative thing and managing it can be seen as manipulative, understanding how to be positively politically intelligent (not just doing whatever we want, to get what we want) is essential for good knowledge sharing, decision-making and ultimately productivity.

Consider: If and how negative ‘Office Politics’ is impacting your company’s performance. How wide spread is it?

  1. Building Relationships with Clients & Prospects

Why this matters: With increased seniority, being good at the ‘day job’ is insufficient as winning new business and leading client relationships becomes a key capability. In a service business, where the ‘product’ is less tangible, companies offering the same service are often hard to choose between – the people make the real difference.

Standing out and delivering great work for clients is about the what and the how. See one of my previous blog posts for more about the ‘difference’ your people can make in creating a competitive edge.

Consider: What’s your client turnover? If it’s high, why might that be?

  1. Networking to Get Results

Why this matters:

Having people who can network effectively – the real and virtual world- is essential if you continually need new business leads and/or want to be well known in you sector.

Often, service businesses rely on a limited number of people who have these skills. This is dangerous. It puts too much reliance on a few key people. However, a firm with most of its people being able and willing to network helps your organisation find and build a strong network of referrers, clients and prospects.

Consider: Who currently ‘does the networking’ in your organisation? What happens if they leave?

  1. Building Strategic Internal Relationships

Why this matters:

Better internal relationships help productivity at a day-to-day level. Over the long-term, it also fundamentally increases cross-selling opportunities, as it means people are more aware of the services other parts of the business offer clients and importantly trust those internal individuals sufficiently to refer their clients to them.

Consider: How well do individuals currently know those outside of their immediate team and at different levels?

  1. Managing a Team Effectively

Why this matters:

Team leaders have an enormous impact on the productivity, effectiveness and wellbeing of their team

Frequently, people are promoted and gain people management responsibility with no professional training or development in this area. If the individual has innate skills in this area and/or they have experienced positive role-modelling in this area themselves, it can work out well. However, often it doesn’t. As team morale and productivity dives, so does your organisation’s competitive edge.

Consider: Are team leaders getting the best from their teams? Do some teams seem to have constant challenges?

  1. Meeting Effectiveness

Why this matters:

People spend a lot of time in meetings, whether they are on or offline.

At best, they’re a great way to discuss important topics and agree a way forward. At worst, they’re long, drawn out, with disengaged people and no tangible outcome.

To improve the performance of your organisation, meetings need to be effective. Your people will appreciate this, your clients even more so. This relies on the skills of the individuals running them and participating. Without good meeting discipline and culture, they can become a waste time and a drain on productivity and decision making.

Consider: Are meetings in your organisation perceived as effective? Estimate what % of meetings you would say are.

  1. Presenting Effectively to Influencers

Why this matters:

Presenting, whether formally at a conference or in a meeting with or without PowerPoint, daunts many people and very few of those who will do it are as effective and able to influence as they could be.

Presenting effectively is an essential skill from both an internal and external perspective. Whether it is outlining a proposed initiative to the leadership team to request budget, pitching to a prospective new client or presenting a project back to a client, all need to engage the audience and influence them in some way.

Consider: What are the occasions in your organisation when effective presenting is a required skill for your people? When have your people’s presentation skills let the business down?

  1. Dealing with Feedback

Why this matters:

Feedback is key for improvement and individual development. Organisations which perform well usually have a strong culture of helpful feedback being provided well, then considered and acted upon.

It’s difficult for individuals to assess themselves due to personal blind spots, therefore getting input from others is essential. Conversely, feedback that is badly given and badly received can set an organisation back.

Consider: To what extent, there is a positive culture around feedback and its value?

What do your people most need to work on to give your business its competitive edge?

In a recent webinar I led, this was the verdict from individual professionals about themselves:

competitive edge

Your people are key to your firm’s competitive edge. If you’d like to discuss the challenges in your business / department / team and how individual and business performance could be improved, please contact me for a conversation.

You can also find out more about each skill and practical advice on how to develop them in my free guide which builds on the above, The overlooked skills your people need to give your company a competitive advantage – complete your details in the box below.

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