In the professional world, skills are at the heart of recruitment and training processes. Indeed, if we recruit a candidate primarily on their technical skills, however, personal and interpersonal qualities are now just as important, if not more so. Empathy, autonomy, confidence, communication, motivation, these behavioral faculties would be decisive when hiring, but also throughout an employee’s career. According to a Monster study conducted in late 2018, 85% of companies acknowledge that they take soft skills into account more than technical skills in their recruitment process and 45% of companies include soft skills as an evaluation criterion during annual interviews. 

However, soft skills also play a decisive role in crisis management. The current environment – and generally speaking, times of great upheaval – allows us to reveal skills that we are less likely to use in normal times. Employees need to respond to these changes by finding the resources to manage their work and personal lives in a tense and uncertain international environment. Enduring the crisis and its consequences can be a source of long-term stress, frustration and anxiety. Therefore, managers need to mobilize their personal qualities to support their teams while reducing uncertainty over the long term. More than ever, soft skills will make the difference on the professional field. 

But what soft skills will be needed in the aftermath of the crisis? In times of increased disruption, certain skills will play a real role in motivating teams and limiting their fears and doubts on a daily basis to ensure the company’s sustainability. Some soft skills have a more sustainable potential and these are the ones that should be favoured in order to withstand the crisis. 

1. Listening 

Knowing how to listen is a personal skill more than necessary in times of crisis. According to an Ifop/Lavazza survey conducted in September 2019, 73% of respondents believe that listening is an essential quality within a company. Indeed, taking the time to listen to employees’ requests, complaints or impressions shows a real commitment to the teams and helps to create authentic and trusting relationships. Listening also allows us to better understand the needs of our employees and thus better support them. If in normal times managers must make themselves available to their employees, in times of crisis, the ability to listen must be put forward in order to make it easier to return to the office and prevent a drop in motivation. Listening, but also empathy and patience are linked and will be a determining factor in overcoming the crisis. Employees will feel surrounded and understood, guaranteeing their psychological health. 

2. Adaptability

Adaptability is the ability to cope with even the most stressful situations by being flexible. According to Heraclitus, change is a constant in the universe. Digital transformation, restructuring, layoffs, companies cannot escape disruption, especially in the aftermath of an international crisis. Adaptation is therefore an essential skill to manage situations in perpetual motion. According to the Ifop/Lavazza survey conducted in September 2019, it is also the soft skill most appreciated by nearly 84% of those surveyed. The ability to approach change positively with an open mind is therefore valued by HR departments and even sought after during recruitment. Adaptability is also often cited along with agility and resilience. Indeed, managers need to manage stress and build resilience in order to thrive in high-pressure environments. To cope with the crisis, adapting to the new work models that have recently emerged (teleworking, social distancing, video conferencing meetings) and showing agility in order to find new ways to make their teams grow despite their uncertainties, become necessary. 

3. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence defines the ability to recognize, evaluate and manage one’s own or others’ emotions, to step back and focus on solutions rather than problems. The presence of emotional intelligence in the ranking of the skills most sought after by recruiters proves that managing emotions is at the heart of professional relationships. It fosters mutual support and team spirit while creating a healthier work environment. In this time of crisis, we are all subject to strong peaks of stress, anxiety, fear, frustration and sadness. Everything can get mixed up and amplify our reactions to our colleagues or clients. As a manager, it is necessary to be able to identify one’s own emotions and those of others in order to unblock situations, to be innovative and adaptable and to push one’s teams towards greater boldness by avoiding emotional shocks. To develop the emotional intelligence of your employees, the help of a professional coach is highly recommended. Thanks to targeted exercises, the coach will help the employee to open up to his feelings in order to better understand his functioning and lead to more self-control. 

4. Trust

In these troubled times, maintaining confidence is a quality that is essential to the survival of the company. However, two aspects of trust are to be distinguished: confidence in the future and self-confidence. Firstly, having confidence in the future will be a determining factor in being able to keep teams motivated and determined. At a time when employee commitment is at a low ebb, especially since the crisis, managers must be able to confirm them in their jobs and their know-how in order to involve them once again in the daily life of the company. Mobilizing employees around the company’s values and sharing with them a positive vision of the future will help maintain a motivating work environment, a source of success for the company. Inspiring employees to have confidence in themselves and in the future is linked to leadership skills, which are essential today in a constantly changing professional world.
Secondly, self-confidence is the key to progressing in one’s job, surpassing oneself and achieving one’s goals. Self-confidence is also a soft skill that is highly valued by recruiters because it is contagious. A self-confident manager will inspire teams to surpass themselves. Thus, trust has a direct impact on employee motivation and therefore commitment. Beware, believing in oneself does not mean being above others. At the end of the crisis, demonstrating self-confidence and trust in one’s employees and in the future will be decisive in re-motivating the troops and guaranteeing a successful return to the office. 

5. Creativity

According to Steven Spielberg, we need to replace fear with creativity. Creativity is an innate human capacity that is becoming a real asset in today’s business world. Indeed, recruiters are particularly interested in atypical and innovative profiles. 58% of managers believe that being creative is an indispensable skill for good management. Why is creativity so popular? Because creativity is about turning imagination into reality. The ability to come up with innovative ideas is essential for solving the new problems that the crisis has created. Developing one’s creativity in times of crisis allows one to be visionary, to create new processes, to think “out of the box”. Creativity is also linked to the ability to visualize, which is crucial to the survival of the company. It is an exercise often used by great leaders, or top athletes. Visualizing trains the brain to consider all the risks and benefits of an opportunity, while motivating teams to step outside their comfort zone. This makes you more daring. Also, don’t forget that being original is a differentiating factor in relation to the competition. 

Discover the hard facts about soft skills and the growth priorities of 1000+ mid-senior level managers, across 4 different countries, in our very own research study here.