Soft Skills - Essential for Business Growth

March 7, 2016

Soft Skills - Essential for Business Growth

Image courtesy of ddpavumba via

I have made many mistakes during my time as a practice manager. Looking back, many were due to a lack of ‘soft skills’ or ‘interpersonal skills’ necessary to handle difficult people and difficult situations - Handling gossip-mongering, resistance to change, grievances, poor performance and sub standards would have been far less stressful had I been better equipped to deal with these issues. Boy, did I learn fast in an attempt to avoid replays of past events!

Is Your Team Dysfunctional?

There is no doubt that understanding the motivations of our people is a challenge. Being able to recognise individuals’ traits, and our own characteristics, can give us a greater insight into our team dynamics and how to deal with problems when they arise. I found a great read called The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni -

Lencioni describes the many pitfalls that teams face as they seek to "row together" to achieve the vision of the business. He defines fundamental causes of organizational politics and team failure as:-

  • Absence of trust
  • Fear of conflict
  • Lack of commitment
  • Avoidance of accountability
  • Inattention to results

Who recognizes these dysfunctions in their team? I certainly did! The good news is that you can learn and develop soft skills. The bad news is that they are more difficult to learn than hard skills and there is no easy measure of success. Like hard skills, such as strategic business processes, soft skills require a lot of practice to make sure you really are adept at using them. Unlike hard skills, there are no tests or assessments to show that you can do them. The success of using soft skills can only be gauged by the development and management of your relationships at work. 


Soft Skills Required?

If your answer ‘yes’ to this question, here is a brief overview of what you need to acquire:-

  1. Communication skills – top of the ‘essential skills’ list in a dental practice.
  2. Leadership skills - about aligning your people to your vision and achieving staff ‘buy in’.
  3. Decision-making skills – ability to make decisions conclusively and quickly.
  4. Team-working skills - matching team to task, setting goals, listening and providing support to your team.
  5. Motivational skills – encouraging staff to be self-motivated and work in an autonomous and accountable way.
  6. Creativity and problem-solving skills – introducing innovation and initiatives into your practice.
  7. Ability to work under pressure – keeping a level head when those around you are losing theirs.

McDonalds Take the Lead

Back in January 2015, McDonalds released the findings of a report which highlights the economic value of soft skills - report concludes that these types of skills contribute £88billion to the UK economy, and that a lack of investment in this area of training will lead to a deficiency of soft skills by 2020. It clearly makes commercial sense to invest in training to boost hard skills but we now have evidence to show that soft skills are equally as important. Perhaps practice principals should take heed and invest in training for their management teams to fill this potential skills gap and drive practice growth?

Want To Be an Expert?
“An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject, and how to avoid them.” 
― Werner Heisenberg

This is not quite my definition of ‘expert’ but let’s go with it for now. Learning from our mistakes is key to identifying what went wrong. Learning to rectify the wrongs is about gaining the skills to avoid the mistakes in the first place. Sounds complicated? Not really! Just contact me to find out when I will be delivering ‘soft skills’ seminars over summer -

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