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November 23, 2023
|
6 mins to read

The top five soft skills and how to develop them

In this blog, we round up the five most in-demand soft skills, and explain how you can develop them.
Alex Mullen
Web Content Writer

Despite their name, there is nothing “soft” about soft skills.

When trying to stand out in your professional industry, you can be forgiven for placing a lot of emphasis on hard skills. Computer literacy, HTML proficiency, a knack for making the perfect cup of tea …  Whatever it might be, candidates are making sure their CV’s demonstrate their competence. Because hard skills are invaluable, right?

But just as important, or arguably even more so, are soft skills. We’ve written about soft skills before in this blog about how they are actually power skills, so it’s safe to say we’re strong proponents of their value in the workplace.

In fact, it’s even been found that hard skills are “perishable”, with a half-life of 2.5 years. Soft skills, on the other hand, stand the test of time. This report from IBM Learning found that skills like leadership and effective communication have a half-life of 7.5 years, thanks to their foundational nature.

So how do you equip your employees - or yourself - with skills that have a doomsday-prepper-level shelf life?

Soft skills training is a complex and oft-misunderstood process. While hard skills are taught in a more traditional, straightforward way by imparting knowledge that you don’t already have, soft skills are based on the innate personality traits that you do already have. They are about who you are as a person, and using that to your advantage in the workplace.

Because of their innateness, some people think that soft skills can’t be taught. But we happen to disagree. Although our human software comes pre-loaded with certain soft skills, they can absolutely be enhanced, developed and nurtured over time.

You may have seen this recent report from The World Economic Forum which details the top ten skills of 2023, and the top ten skills that are on the rise. We’re happy to see that soft skills like creative thinking and curiosity cropped up repeatedly on these lists, so we’ve taken the time to collate them.

In this blog, we’ll go through what exactly these soft skills look like, and how you can develop them.

Tip: As an all-in-one learning platform for business, we at Thrive are obviously big proponents of the value of learning platforms to help employees develop their skills.
An LMS with skills and goals functionality is ideal for developing hard skills, while an LXP takes a more social, experiential approach to developing soft skills through collaboration. We’re proud to say that our platform combines both of these approaches - check out our full list of features to see if we could work for you and your team.

Now, back to our list. Read on to future-proof your professional development with these top five soft skills.

1. Analytical thinking


Analytical thinking consists of:

  • Taking issues that might be hard to understand, and breaking them down into their component parts
  • Critically evaluating each part to identify patterns and connections
  • Drawing conclusions based on evidence and reasoning to reach a solution.

Taking the number one spot on the top ten skills of 2023 list, it’s safe to say that analytical thinking is in high demand. So, how do you develop this skill?


How to develop analytical thinking skills

Practise problem solving on a smaller scale

If you’re hesitant about applying your existing analytical thinking skills to work, start small. A great way to keep the analytical side of your brain engaged is to take part in logic puzzles and brain-teasers. You can also practise critical reading by analysing articles and research papers.


Learn from the greats

Study great analytical thinkers to see how they use their skills to approach and solve problems. Not just Aristotle or Albert Einstein, but Jim from the Data and Analytics department. At Thrive, we’re big fans of User Generated Content (UGC.) Why look further afield for knowledge when it’s within your organisation? Tap into the knowledge of a colleague whose analytical thinking skills you admire, and learn from their expertise.


Analyse data

Yes, this one’s fairly obvious. Practise your analytical skills by working with data sets and interpreting graphs. You can analyse which conclusions you come to based on your calculations. To make interpreting information easier, try creating visual representations of ideas before breaking them down into simpler parts.

2. Creative thinking

While analytical thinking is about reaching a conclusion based on patterns and connections that you find in data, creative thinking is about thinking outside of conventional boundaries to arrive at a totally unique solution.

Creative thinking involves:

  • Generating original and imaginative ideas
  • Exploring possibilities
  • Finding connections between seemingly unrelated concepts

How to develop creative thinking skills


First thought, best thought?

Not always, but it helps to first consider the most obvious solution to your problem to make sure you’re not missing it. Once you’ve contemplated this idea, it makes space for more creative or intuitive ideas to flow.


Think twice.

Following on from the first point, as human beings we all carry unconscious bias and assumptions. It can be easy to get stuck in one, linear way of thinking, which stymies your ability to think creatively and consider all possible avenues. Before you go through with doing something a certain way, ask yourself: Why am I doing it this way? Is there a different way to do it?


Broaden your horizons.

We can all be in the habit of sticking rigidly to our echo chambers, only taking in news and information from our very narrow niche or market. But to develop creative thinking skills, it’s really helpful to step outside of these self-imposed boundaries and explore topics that don’t directly relate to your field. Not only does this encourage you to think outside the box, but you might find a piece of wisdom that can be applied to your role or problem.


Brainstorm.

Make time for a brainstorming session, and gather all possible ideas and solutions into one place. You can then go through and analyse these ideas’ individual merits, and it also opens your mind and cultivates a creative atmosphere.


Fail and fail again.

If you don’t embrace failure, you’re falling at the first hurdle. This is not a new idea by any means, but it’s helpful to remind ourselves of it when talking about creative thinking. In order to truly think creatively, you’ll need to take risks and accept failure as a natural part of the process - rather than something to be avoided at all costs.


3. Resilience, flexibility and agility

These three ideas have all been pulled into one singular skill by the World Economic Forum, and can be summed up as “the ability to adapt, thrive, and remain productive amongst adversity or varying expectations.”

But how do you go about developing this - even without some adversity to practise on?!


How to develop resilience, flexibility and agility

Innovation over efficiency

As pointed out by research firm Gartner HR, resilience is not efficient. If you focus purely on efficiency, you fall victim to the status quo and doing things the way they’ve always been done. To truly cultivate innovation, you’ll need to accept that progress is slow and non-linear.


Don’t underestimate the power of your support network

Being resilient does not mean being a lone wolf who carries the weight of the world on their shoulders and never asks for help.

In order to be truly resilient while avoiding the dreaded burnout, tap into your support network and know when to ask for help. Develop connections in the workplace so that you can support one another during challenging times, and maintain a healthy work-life balance.


Embrace change

Change is scary, but it’s in the space between “old” and “new” that we find our resilience and grow. Instead of avoiding change, actively seek it out. Take on new experiences or projects that bring you outside of your comfort zone.

4. Motivation and self-awareness

Falling under the ‘self efficacy’ umbrella in The World Economic Forum’s ‘The Future of Jobs’ report, motivation and self-awareness were grouped together as highly coveted skills both in 2023 and the future that lies ahead. Here’s how you can develop these traits.

Find the ‘why?’

Borrowing an idea from author Simon Sinek, to find motivation within your work, you need to connect it to a larger purpose outside of it. How does your work contribute to the world around you; what value does it bring? Once you connect to this idea, it’ll be a lot easier to tap into the motivation you need to continue.


Lay out a clear path, with celebrations along the way

To stay motivated, cut through the noise of nebulous ‘To Do’ lists and far-away yearly goals, and instead set your own smaller and more achievable goals to hit on the path to your eventual destination. When you achieve one of these small goals, take time to celebrate and congratulate yourself. This reward sets up positive reinforcement in your mind.


Listen and reflect

Take the time to listen to feedback from others and take it on board. Amongst your goals and celebrations, take time to reflect: What worked? What didn’t? What did you do well, and what could you do better next time? Taking this time to reflect will help you to develop self-awareness.

5. Curiosity and lifelong learning

Ah yes, our favourite workplace skill and the reason why we’re all here. As a Learning Platform, we’re obviously very invested in the concept of curiosity and lifelong learning. Curiosity is something that we develop as children, and sadly tend to grow out of as we age. But we at Thrive are in the business of keeping people curious.


Question everything

This relates closely to our point about questioning your assumptions. If you have a question, don’t sit on it - ask it! You’ll hopefully gain insights into why things are done a certain way, and build up your knowledge in that area.


Curb your judgement

Judgement is a fundamental part of the human psyche. It’s how we make decisions, keep ourselves safe, and learn. But when used without discretion, judgement can actually impede our ability to learn. Try to get ahead of that judgemental part of your brain as it monologues in the background (“I don’t want to do this, I hate that idea”) and keep an open mind. When you remain perceptive to new people, processes and ideas, you never know what gold you might strike.


Dedicate time to learning

Curiosity is arguably the most important soft skill on this entire list, because it's through opening this up that you can then allow every other soft skill to take shape.

With that in mind, prioritising learning is a must. Firstly, set yourself learning goals and objectives in the areas you care about most. Next, research which resources, newsletters or platforms you’ll dive into for this knowledge. Finally, set aside time each week (or on a regular basis) to learn.

Thanks for reading our guide to soft skills in the workplace. Need a central place to set, track and gain valuable soft and hard skills? Thrive’s skills and goals functionality allows you to do just that in one intuitive platform. Get in touch with our team today to book a demo, and find out how Thrive could help you.

More Stories

See all

See Thrive in action

Explore what impact Thrive could make for your team and your learners today.

November 23, 2023
|
6 mins to read

The top five soft skills and how to develop them

In this blog, we round up the five most in-demand soft skills, and explain how you can develop them.
Alex Mullen
Web Content Writer

Despite their name, there is nothing “soft” about soft skills.

When trying to stand out in your professional industry, you can be forgiven for placing a lot of emphasis on hard skills. Computer literacy, HTML proficiency, a knack for making the perfect cup of tea …  Whatever it might be, candidates are making sure their CV’s demonstrate their competence. Because hard skills are invaluable, right?

But just as important, or arguably even more so, are soft skills. We’ve written about soft skills before in this blog about how they are actually power skills, so it’s safe to say we’re strong proponents of their value in the workplace.

In fact, it’s even been found that hard skills are “perishable”, with a half-life of 2.5 years. Soft skills, on the other hand, stand the test of time. This report from IBM Learning found that skills like leadership and effective communication have a half-life of 7.5 years, thanks to their foundational nature.

So how do you equip your employees - or yourself - with skills that have a doomsday-prepper-level shelf life?

Soft skills training is a complex and oft-misunderstood process. While hard skills are taught in a more traditional, straightforward way by imparting knowledge that you don’t already have, soft skills are based on the innate personality traits that you do already have. They are about who you are as a person, and using that to your advantage in the workplace.

Because of their innateness, some people think that soft skills can’t be taught. But we happen to disagree. Although our human software comes pre-loaded with certain soft skills, they can absolutely be enhanced, developed and nurtured over time.

You may have seen this recent report from The World Economic Forum which details the top ten skills of 2023, and the top ten skills that are on the rise. We’re happy to see that soft skills like creative thinking and curiosity cropped up repeatedly on these lists, so we’ve taken the time to collate them.

In this blog, we’ll go through what exactly these soft skills look like, and how you can develop them.

Tip: As an all-in-one learning platform for business, we at Thrive are obviously big proponents of the value of learning platforms to help employees develop their skills.
An LMS with skills and goals functionality is ideal for developing hard skills, while an LXP takes a more social, experiential approach to developing soft skills through collaboration. We’re proud to say that our platform combines both of these approaches - check out our full list of features to see if we could work for you and your team.

Now, back to our list. Read on to future-proof your professional development with these top five soft skills.

1. Analytical thinking


Analytical thinking consists of:

  • Taking issues that might be hard to understand, and breaking them down into their component parts
  • Critically evaluating each part to identify patterns and connections
  • Drawing conclusions based on evidence and reasoning to reach a solution.

Taking the number one spot on the top ten skills of 2023 list, it’s safe to say that analytical thinking is in high demand. So, how do you develop this skill?


How to develop analytical thinking skills

Practise problem solving on a smaller scale

If you’re hesitant about applying your existing analytical thinking skills to work, start small. A great way to keep the analytical side of your brain engaged is to take part in logic puzzles and brain-teasers. You can also practise critical reading by analysing articles and research papers.


Learn from the greats

Study great analytical thinkers to see how they use their skills to approach and solve problems. Not just Aristotle or Albert Einstein, but Jim from the Data and Analytics department. At Thrive, we’re big fans of User Generated Content (UGC.) Why look further afield for knowledge when it’s within your organisation? Tap into the knowledge of a colleague whose analytical thinking skills you admire, and learn from their expertise.


Analyse data

Yes, this one’s fairly obvious. Practise your analytical skills by working with data sets and interpreting graphs. You can analyse which conclusions you come to based on your calculations. To make interpreting information easier, try creating visual representations of ideas before breaking them down into simpler parts.

2. Creative thinking

While analytical thinking is about reaching a conclusion based on patterns and connections that you find in data, creative thinking is about thinking outside of conventional boundaries to arrive at a totally unique solution.

Creative thinking involves:

  • Generating original and imaginative ideas
  • Exploring possibilities
  • Finding connections between seemingly unrelated concepts

How to develop creative thinking skills


First thought, best thought?

Not always, but it helps to first consider the most obvious solution to your problem to make sure you’re not missing it. Once you’ve contemplated this idea, it makes space for more creative or intuitive ideas to flow.


Think twice.

Following on from the first point, as human beings we all carry unconscious bias and assumptions. It can be easy to get stuck in one, linear way of thinking, which stymies your ability to think creatively and consider all possible avenues. Before you go through with doing something a certain way, ask yourself: Why am I doing it this way? Is there a different way to do it?


Broaden your horizons.

We can all be in the habit of sticking rigidly to our echo chambers, only taking in news and information from our very narrow niche or market. But to develop creative thinking skills, it’s really helpful to step outside of these self-imposed boundaries and explore topics that don’t directly relate to your field. Not only does this encourage you to think outside the box, but you might find a piece of wisdom that can be applied to your role or problem.


Brainstorm.

Make time for a brainstorming session, and gather all possible ideas and solutions into one place. You can then go through and analyse these ideas’ individual merits, and it also opens your mind and cultivates a creative atmosphere.


Fail and fail again.

If you don’t embrace failure, you’re falling at the first hurdle. This is not a new idea by any means, but it’s helpful to remind ourselves of it when talking about creative thinking. In order to truly think creatively, you’ll need to take risks and accept failure as a natural part of the process - rather than something to be avoided at all costs.


3. Resilience, flexibility and agility

These three ideas have all been pulled into one singular skill by the World Economic Forum, and can be summed up as “the ability to adapt, thrive, and remain productive amongst adversity or varying expectations.”

But how do you go about developing this - even without some adversity to practise on?!


How to develop resilience, flexibility and agility

Innovation over efficiency

As pointed out by research firm Gartner HR, resilience is not efficient. If you focus purely on efficiency, you fall victim to the status quo and doing things the way they’ve always been done. To truly cultivate innovation, you’ll need to accept that progress is slow and non-linear.


Don’t underestimate the power of your support network

Being resilient does not mean being a lone wolf who carries the weight of the world on their shoulders and never asks for help.

In order to be truly resilient while avoiding the dreaded burnout, tap into your support network and know when to ask for help. Develop connections in the workplace so that you can support one another during challenging times, and maintain a healthy work-life balance.


Embrace change

Change is scary, but it’s in the space between “old” and “new” that we find our resilience and grow. Instead of avoiding change, actively seek it out. Take on new experiences or projects that bring you outside of your comfort zone.

4. Motivation and self-awareness

Falling under the ‘self efficacy’ umbrella in The World Economic Forum’s ‘The Future of Jobs’ report, motivation and self-awareness were grouped together as highly coveted skills both in 2023 and the future that lies ahead. Here’s how you can develop these traits.

Find the ‘why?’

Borrowing an idea from author Simon Sinek, to find motivation within your work, you need to connect it to a larger purpose outside of it. How does your work contribute to the world around you; what value does it bring? Once you connect to this idea, it’ll be a lot easier to tap into the motivation you need to continue.


Lay out a clear path, with celebrations along the way

To stay motivated, cut through the noise of nebulous ‘To Do’ lists and far-away yearly goals, and instead set your own smaller and more achievable goals to hit on the path to your eventual destination. When you achieve one of these small goals, take time to celebrate and congratulate yourself. This reward sets up positive reinforcement in your mind.


Listen and reflect

Take the time to listen to feedback from others and take it on board. Amongst your goals and celebrations, take time to reflect: What worked? What didn’t? What did you do well, and what could you do better next time? Taking this time to reflect will help you to develop self-awareness.

5. Curiosity and lifelong learning

Ah yes, our favourite workplace skill and the reason why we’re all here. As a Learning Platform, we’re obviously very invested in the concept of curiosity and lifelong learning. Curiosity is something that we develop as children, and sadly tend to grow out of as we age. But we at Thrive are in the business of keeping people curious.


Question everything

This relates closely to our point about questioning your assumptions. If you have a question, don’t sit on it - ask it! You’ll hopefully gain insights into why things are done a certain way, and build up your knowledge in that area.


Curb your judgement

Judgement is a fundamental part of the human psyche. It’s how we make decisions, keep ourselves safe, and learn. But when used without discretion, judgement can actually impede our ability to learn. Try to get ahead of that judgemental part of your brain as it monologues in the background (“I don’t want to do this, I hate that idea”) and keep an open mind. When you remain perceptive to new people, processes and ideas, you never know what gold you might strike.


Dedicate time to learning

Curiosity is arguably the most important soft skill on this entire list, because it's through opening this up that you can then allow every other soft skill to take shape.

With that in mind, prioritising learning is a must. Firstly, set yourself learning goals and objectives in the areas you care about most. Next, research which resources, newsletters or platforms you’ll dive into for this knowledge. Finally, set aside time each week (or on a regular basis) to learn.

Thanks for reading our guide to soft skills in the workplace. Need a central place to set, track and gain valuable soft and hard skills? Thrive’s skills and goals functionality allows you to do just that in one intuitive platform. Get in touch with our team today to book a demo, and find out how Thrive could help you.

More Stories

See all

See Thrive in action

Explore what impact Thrive could make for your team and your learners today.