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Stop, collaborate and listen: 5 signs your team needs a soft skills upgrade

By 16th November 2023No Comments
Stop, collaborate, and listen. a triptych of a stopwatch, puzzle piece and dog wearing headphones.

We all want to see smoother processes, better collaboration and seamless knowledge sharing in the workplace. If progress is slow, it’s tempting to look at productivity software as the cause and cure.

But you might not have a technology problem. It’s easy to overlook the behaviours and soft skills that enable your workforce to reap the benefits of smarter software.

The question you should be asking is how well your organisation can stop, collaborate, and listen.

To paraphrase the immortal wisdom of Vanilla Ice, if there is a problem, yo we’ll solve it / scroll down for five signs while our DJ revolves it.

animation of a record spinning on a turntable

Sign 1: Team meetings aren’t productive

Unproductive meetings can take many forms. If your people are bouncing between back-to-back calls without a break, joining mystery meetings with no clear purpose, or re-living the same status stand-up every week, it might be time for a remix.

Soft skills including organisation, active listening, and leadership are the unsung heroes of successful meetings. Whether you’re meeting in person or online, it’s helpful to press pause, tune into what’s missing, and compose a training plan for smarter meetings.

A man falling asleep at his desk during a very dull meeting

Sign 2: No one can find information fast

SharePoint, DropBox, Google Drive. It doesn’t matter what file sharing system you use, your documents won’t organise themselves. If people can’t find what they need easily, you’re setting the stage for conflicting information, wasted time, and missed opportunities to collaborate and share.

Getting the basics right with information management is only going to become more important as AI technologies such as Microsoft Copilot come onto the scene. If information is disorganised, incorrect, or inaccessible, AI tools won’t be able to add much value.

Top up this skill set with clear governance on what your team should be saving and where, along with a quick refresher course on naming conventions and search techniques to help surface information and keep your records pristine.

A chaotic file system. Folder icons are positioned on a background to look like an ancient map. Folder names read "here there be monsters", "Look here glenn" and "Action plan old"
Here there be monsters: navigating shared files shouldn’t feel like a journey into the unknown. But without proper governance and good practice, collaborative tools can become a hindrance.
top-down view of a cracked tarmac pavement.

Sign 3: Projects are falling through the cracks

Whether you use Planner, Trello, Asana or a good old-fashioned spreadsheet to track team projects, there’s usually a couple of items on hold, awaiting a change in circumstances.

However, when projects rarely make it to completion and your task list starts to look like a graveyard of good ideas, you have a problem that can’t be solved by task management software.

Project management isn’t just about checklists, timelines and Gantt charts; it’s a symphony of planning, communication and collaboration, coordinated by a skilled conductor. Soft skills training can help your team fine-tune their abilities and set the rhythm for work that’ll top the charts.

Sign 4: Different teams are duplicating work

Two teams, both alike in dignity, each working separately to solve the same problem in your organisation. But it’s not a competition, hackathon or sprint – each team is oblivious to the other and the value they could bring. Sound familiar? You’ve got siloed working.

Other than the duplicated effort and wasted resource, siloed working can create a patchwork of unique workarounds, shadow IT, and inefficiency.

Working in the open can help enhance communication and collaboration across different departments, facilitated by tools such as Slack and Microsoft Teams. But having the software doesn’t necessarily change behaviours. Your people need training and drumbeat comms to understand when, how and why they should share updates to open working channels.

Sign 5: There are tensions within your workforce

If interaction between colleagues has started feeling more like a rap battle than a duet, it’s a more serious sign that something needs to change. Rivalry, conflict, and interpersonal drama can hinder both business operations and wellbeing. To restore harmony, you’ll need to find the underlying cause.

Rewind and examine the tension. Are your people working towards shared goals, or do they each have conflicting priorities? Is information flowing freely, or does knowledge bequeath power in your workplace? Can people ask for what they need, or are they always under pressure?

These issues aren’t always an easy fix, but by tapping into the soft skills that make us all human, it’s possible to get your culture back on track.

Watch our webinar: Does culture matter within the digital skills gap?

“If the outcome you want is collaboration, creativity, safe data, what behaviours do you need your organisation to nurture?”

Gini Holden

Culture + Behaviours Specialist

Soft skills training, feat. The Inform Team

Getting culture and behaviours right in an organisation is critical to unlock the potential of digital technology and optimise ways of working. If you recognise any of the five situations above, it could be a sign that your approach to soft skills training needs a little TLC.

At Inform, we specialise in people-first digital change. Our services range from engaging soft skills courses to in-depth coaching from our in-house culture + behaviour specialists. To find out more, get in touch and book your free consultation call.

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