Every January, I meet individually with each member of my senior management team, and we review his or her goals for the New Year. During these meetings, we also discuss the goals they set for their direct reports. It’s important that the managers and their teams know what they need to accomplish both individually and as a whole.
My business is technical in nature, so most of the goals our managers develop for their teams tend to be technical. The goals usually involve meeting certain measurements or criteria, gaining proficiency in specific tasks, mastering a process or system, or taking on more responsibility.
This year, in addition to the technical goals, I asked our senior managers to identify one soft skill each of their team members should develop or improve and add it to the individual’s goals for the year. Because just as the technical or numerical goals are important, so are goals related to personal development.
Examples of soft skills could include learning how to be better at leading a meeting, improving your communication skills, training to understand the importance of sales to become a better sales person and of course, leadership training, which is helpful for up and coming managers or executives.
All of us can improve our soft skills, and a good manager should be able to identify opportunities for soft skill improvement in each of their team members. However, this is often overlooked, ignored or accepted, either for fear of insult or deciding it’s an element of one’s personality that cannot be corrected. This helps neither the individual, the manager nor the business.
But if done in a professional manner, a manager can offer an individual the opportunity to develop and improve a soft skill, leading to the overall improvement of their team and a greater accomplishment of the team’s business goals.