Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Six Soft Skills for Safety Leadership

In his article, “Six Critical Soft Skills for Effective Safety Leadership,” Bill Anderson, product manager for DuPont SustainableSolutions, discusses the necessary skills leaders need to be effective in their jobs. Soft skills are nontechnical, transferable abilities that are crucial for effective interaction with others. Anderson says that all employees can benefit from various soft skills training, but for those in a supervisory role, the six most vital skill sets are: communication, conflict resolution, coaching for performance, decision-making, meeting effectiveness and training job skills.

1) Communication
Many believe that the ability to effectively communicate is the most important soft skill an employee can have. “Good communication leads to efficient and effective productivity, improves team performance and bolsters workplace safety, Anderson says. Employees must mast four guidelines to effectively communicate in the workplace:
  • Identify the message and its purpose.
  • Choose the appropriate means of communication.
  • Deliver the message.
  • Solicit feedback and respond accordingly.
2) Conflict Resolution
To promote win-win outcomes in the workplace, workers must:
  • Understand their role in managing and resolving conflict.
  • Be aware of the potential sources of conflict in the workplace.
  • Know how to react to conflict in ways that are positive and helpful to everyone.
  • Learn to resolve conflict with collaborative solutions.
3) Coaching for Performance
Organizations must invest in their workforce and leaders must invest in those working under them by supporting and developing their efforts. Anderson says the two main components of effective coaching are to:
  • Create a positive and productive environment. The work environment should motivate everyone to perform at their best. Set realistic goals, encourage self-development, provide timely and meaningful recognition and provide appropriate training.
  • Provide constructive feedback. Delivery of feedback is as important as the feedback itself. “It’s not just what you say, but how you say it,” Anderson says. “That takes a special set of soft skills.”
4) Decision-Making
To be effective in decision-making, one must gather information, identify facts, recognize possible solutions then choose the best solution. In his research, Anderson found that “organizations that fully develop analytic skills in all workers will continue to be the top performers in the coming years.”

5) Meeting Effectiveness
Effective meetings are essential tools for presenting information, assigning workplace tasks and responsibilities, and passing information down the chain of command. Anderson says that leaders should master how to plan a meeting, as well as how to properly execute a meeting. These skills include determining the meeting’s objective, planning accordingly, setting the correct tone and ensuring that the meeting stays on track.

6) Training Job Skills
Job training is a necessary component to ensure that employees are prepared. Whether it be training for new or seasoned workers, managers should understand why training is necessary and how it should be carried out in useful ways. For successful on-the-job training, mangers must understand:
  • how to create effective training;
  • Characteristics of an appropriate learning objective;
  • how to plan relevant an useful training;
  • how to effectively present training.
“Investing in corporate job training that targets soft skills is an effective way to communicate these six skill sets to workers and to help them learn to use soft skills in the workplace,” Anderson says. A workforce that develops soft skills encourages workers’ personal success and creates growth within the organization.