There are two types of skills benefit managers should have to help a business succeed – hard and soft skills. Hard skills are usually at the top of the list managers wish to develop because they’re usually more defined, specific and can be measured. But soft skills, often considered “fluff,” are just as important to business success, says blogger and author Sharlyn Lauby, who compiled the following list of soft skills managers should help employees hone.

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As the starting point to build on other skills, self-awareness allows employees to better understand their working relationships with others, Lauby notes. “We have to know who we are and be comfortable in our own skin,” she says.

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Oral and written communication skills are also important. As technology has exploded, a myriad of mediums have been created that allow for some sort of communication – texting, phone calls, Facebook messaging, etc. Communication has to be done properly, and that means using the right medium for the message alongside crafting the message so it is heard by the intended audience.

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Listening (and accepting feedback)

While multi-tasking is an accepted way of life, Lauby says “sometimes multi-tasking isn’t appropriate or effective. We improve our listening skills by focusing. When others are giving us feedback, they deserve our attention.”

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To be successful, networking is a must-have skill. Networking skills are used both internally and externally, and with good networking skills, employees are able to ask for the necessary information and help when needed.

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Some employees thrive working in groups, but there are many that also excel working alone. However, there are times when a project will require teamwork. “We must be able to adjust our communications when working in a group so the team is successful,” Lauby says.

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Meeting management

It’s important to be able manage meetings – as both a meeting leader and participant. Learning how to make meetings more effective will contribute to a company’s success.

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Conflict resolution

As companies operate on a leaner workforce, managers and HR don’t have the time to always mediate conflicts. Everyone’s plates are full, and employees need to learn to resolve their own conflicts.

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Problem solving

“Companies expect employees to share their thoughts about how to solve problems,” Lauby says. “Even if the solution presented isn’t adopted, it likely started the conversation.”

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Stress management

A lack of work-life balance and burnout are common threads in the modern workforce and it can sometimes take more than a vacation to fix an ongoing problem. Employees should be aware of what they find stressful at work and look for ways to alleviate it.

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Time management

“One way to control stress is to control time,” Lauby advises. “Learning how to effectively manage your time can have a huge impact on productivity and the number of hours spent on work.”

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