How do you measure ‘soft’ skills?
One of the things our recruitment clients often ask about is how to measure ‘soft’ skills.
Yes, they are more difficult to measure than some of the more technical skills. However, there are ways. Today I’m going to share with you some basic building blocks in one very key skill – rapport.
It’s something you instinctively know, but as it turns out, there are some objective measures. You can use these for recruitment but also for training people. And yes, they can be learned.
An easy way to work it out
When you are trying to work out how to measure soft skills, one easy (well, easier) way is to pick someone who has the skills you are looking for and compare what they do with someone who does not have the skills.
How to measure rapport skills
Here are some of the things you can look for when you are checking for rapport-building skills:
• Responses to your behaviour
• Laughing at your jokes
• Asking you questions about yourself
Responses to your behaviour
During any conversation, it’s much smoother if the other party responds appropriately to what you are saying. In other words, if you mention that it’s raining or cold, do they sound sympathetic?
Laughing at your jokes
This may sound silly, but laughter is one of the building blocks of relationships. If you don’t believe me, just notice how often people who get on well laugh together compared to those who don’t get on well.
So a good measure is to make a casual witty remark and see what response you get. (If you find that hard, have one ready prepared.)
Asking you questions about yourself
A large proportion of rapport is about understanding the needs of others and being interested in them. So when you are interviewing someone and want to check if they have that skill, simply give them some opportunities to ask you something about yourself.
We do a lot of recruitment in the veterinary field. I often ask candidates if they have any pets. This is an opportunity for them to ask me if I have any pets. I usually give them three opportunities to ask me something about myself. If you are looking for a receptionist, it’s the kind of skill you probably want. Or indeed anyone who often deals with customers.
When poor performance is really poor management
Imagine the scenario- you recruit a new person into your team and a couple of months later he or she is still not performing.
What do you do?
That was the situation faced by a manager I spoke to recently.
So I asked him if he’d set the new team member any goals. It turned out that he thought the team member should know what to do. And he did, in a vague way.
Delegating the goals
However, the manager had not delegated the goals clearly. By this I mean the difference between saying:
You need to sell shoes
You need to sell enough shoes to make $500 profit each day
The second statement focuses on getting the important thing, the profit. It’s easy to make the mistake of just focusing on the sales. But any fool can sell at a loss. That generally isn’t very useful.
What if the new team member still isn’t performing?
Then you need to look at what he or she is doing. They need to be clear what needs to be different.
So you ask the question:
What do you need to do differently in order to achieve this goal?
Sometimes you’ll find that people don’t know the answers. Sometimes they will need to think about it or they will need some help. The important thing is that they get an answer so that they can start to improve.
If you don’t do anything different, you’ll get the same result.
A leadership skill
There doesn’t have to be a complicated plan, just keep identifying what needs to be different and you’ll often find performance will start to improve.
The skill of the effective manager is to make it easy for people to get this information so that they can take action.