Soft Skills in the Workplace That Are Critical in 2020

Key Points:

  • Soft skills in the workplace that employers are looking for are essential, no matter your position or seniority level.
  • These behaviors come up daily in and out of the office, so keep them in mind as you develop and improve your leadership style.
  • Periodically review and improve you and your team’s soft skills with these tips.

Soft Skills in the Workplace

Soft skills in the workplace are sometimes hard to articulate. They’re typically behaviors that show up in everyday details and may be difficult to articulate when you land an interview or on a resume.  Moreover, the home building industry is a specialized field, and residential construction jobs require plenty of hard and soft skills. Here’s a list of the top 8 soft skills that are important in the workplace.

1.  Communication

Effective communication is crucial for successful interpersonal skills, operations management, conflict resolution, and a long-list of work requirements.  You need to understand the requests of each party fully. After that, you’ll have to convey them accurately to a different recipient, without distortion.  Communication also involves ‘telling stories’ to engage, motivate, or negotiate with others.

a profesional using the comunication soft skill in the workplaceEffective communication with clients is equally important as amongst coworkers.  Caitlin Sisley, with Workflow Max, suggests the following 7 Essential Tips for Client Communication, all of which apply on-site and in the office:

  1. Establish credibility immediately
  2. Avoid industry jargon and buzzwords
  3. Choose one point of contact
  4. Practice active listening
  5. Define the rules of engagement
  6. Use visual technology
  7. Be transparent

2.  Time Management

Some people give the impression that they’re always busy, but their productivity isn’t at a high level. They work hard, but they don’t put their effort where it matters.  Effective time management enables an individual to complete more in a shorter time, lowers stress, and leads to career success.

Joan Mooney, with Builder, suggests the following 8 Time Management Tips for Homebuilders.

  1. Plan upfront in as much detail as you can
  2. Educate your subcontractors
  3. Streamline your communication with a weekly email
  4. Delegate
  5. Don’t neglect less immediate tasks
  6. Create a focus for your company and your teams
  7. Set your priorities
  8. Mind your attention

3.  Multitasking

Every morning you are greeted with hundreds of emails, appointments, and paperwork. There might be a crisis waiting for your intervention, as well. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could make ten clones of ourselves?  On the job site and in the office, we have to multitask under pressure numerous times a week and month while keeping an upbeat disposition.

Cleverism notes that the term “multitasking” comes from “computer multitasking,” the ability to perform several tasks at the same time. “Human multitasking, therefore, is a human’s ability to perform multiple tasks at the same time. We often multitask without even realizing, watching TV while checking texts, listening to music while working, or walking while talking to someone. Done correctly, effective multitasking is an exercise in brain behavior and the ensuing organization and utilization of the neural channels within.”

Cleverism, suggests these 6 Techniques To Help You Multitask More Effectively.

  1. Make a to-do list
  2. Prioritize
  3. Solve tasks in blocks
  4. Avoid distractions
  5. Delegate
  6. Practice

4.  Teamwork

Working with teams is critical for the success of any project. In multidisciplinary homebuilding operations, harmony is essential for getting any work done.  A ‘difficult person’ is usually replaced promptly, and a good team-player often gets easy promotions.

employees using teamwork soft skill in the workplaceIn a good read by industry veteran Charlie Scott, at Professional Builder about the “High Cost of Hero Syndrom,” he suggests the following 7 Secrets to Building Teamwork:

  1. Pick team players. Look for new hires who have demonstrated their version of teamwork: sports, any kind of band, choir, church, community work, or volunteer work.
  2. Craft some plans. With team members in place, management should define an operational plan and a customer-experience plan.
  3. Measure performance. Identify the Key Performance Indicators for every member of your team.
  4. Monitor performance. Measuring alone doesn’t cut it. Frequent monitoring is critical for teamwork and success.
  5. Huddle up. From beach volleyball to football to home builders, smart teams huddle up before they play. When you do, listen to staff and communicate with them daily.
  6. Listen to the voice of the customer. VOC is one of the critical metrics to monitor.
  7. If you need to, call an audible. Team productivity excels when a leader or coach can recognize patterns and make smart plan changes on the fly.

Check out the article here for more details on building teamwork in the homebuilding industry.

5.  Critical Thinking

Many aspects of homebuilding have to do with codes and regulations in addition to complex problems that need to be solved. Regardless of your place within a company, you’ll encounter a situation where you’ll examine the work done against a set-standard, and you’ll also have to modify procedures for better or more efficient outcomes.  Critical thinking is a vital soft skill for an organization’s success.

Business.com suggests following this Six-Step Problem-Solving Process to foster critical thinking in your team.

  1. Name the situation.  When you name the situation, you present a single discussion point that everyone in the discussion can identify.
  2. List all possible solutions.  Brainstorming takes place during this part of the process. There is nothing outside the realm of possibilities at this point in the discussion.
  3. Narrow your solutions to three options.  Everyone in the team needs to agree with at least one of the three options. Individuals who can find a compromise and create solutions from many perspectives are better able to bring a team together.
  4. Choose one option from the three choices.  Make a final choice that offers the best chance of success based on the rational discussion about the situation.
  5. Put a plan in place to implement the chosen solution.  Your chosen solution should have timelines and a list that identifies which participants are responsible for what parts of the final plan.
  6. Complete the plan.  Think of the number of times a great plan floundered because there was no follow-up. Make sure each person from the team has a part to play in the process that emphasizes their areas of expertise and interest.

6.  Decision Making

Every home building project has numerous decisions and project tasks.  And every residential construction professional has to make decisions on how to choose among a variety of options to move a project forward.

Bruce Harpham, PMP, the founder of projectmanagementhacks.com, asks, “How often do you think about—and work on—your decision-making skills, as you focus on juggling your project schedule, manage resources and other job demands?” He suggests that “Improving your ability to make decisions is simple. Psychologists, economists, philosophers, and other scholars have been studying how people made decisions for ages. The good news is that improving your ability to make a smart decision is mainly a matter of avoiding mistakes.”

Bruce suggests the following 10 Tips for Making Better Project Management Decisions.

  1. The two-minute rule.  Can you complete the action in less than two minutes? Do it right now and stop thinking about it any further.
  2. Make minor decisions fast.  For small decisions, spend a small amount of time.
  3. Pick up the phone. Email can slow down decision making. The next time you need more information to make a decision, make a short phone call.
  4. Establish criteria for major decisions. When it comes to allocating resources, assigning major project tasks, and spending large amounts of money, it’s important to be thoughtful.
  5. Avoid big decisions before lunch.
  6. The halo effect.  The halo effect is a cognitive bias where we develop opinions of people based on overall (and popular) impressions. Take the time to realize that everyone has strengths and weaknesses on your project—first impressions can lead you astray.
  7. Availability bias.  To combat the availability bias, you need to rely on your project team. By regularly asking, “What else can we do about the situation?” or “What other options are there?” you’ll go a long way to fighting this bias.
  8. Escape the curse of knowledge—act like a beginner.  Have you ever yelled at a project stakeholder because they didn’t understand technology? If so, you’ve fallen victim to the curse of knowledge. Until you free yourself from this curse, your communication with stakeholders will suffer.
  9. Endowment effect: loss hurts.  Before you cut a feature or function from the project, ask yourself, “Are there any stakeholders who directly asked for this?” If so, talk to that stakeholder before making a final decision. They may have helpful ideas or resources that enable you to keep the project scope intact.
  10. Fundamental attribution error.  Relying on personality-based explanations for behavior is the heart of the fundamental attribution error.

7.  Self Motivation

Self-motivation is powerful and drives us to keep forging ahead. In the home building industry, amongst others, self-motivation is what drives us to learn and succeed, no matter the scenario continuously.  It is a primary means of realizing our goals and progressing. This drive for success and improvement is the basis for creating a strong culture at most companies.

mountain climber's self motivation soft skill helped him reach the mountain peakThe Army Cadets have a few great tips (see below) about How To Improve Self-Motivation in the Workplace.

  1. Set a goal and think of it regularly: Having a concrete goal in mind is the best way to keep yourself motivated. Your goal might be getting a promotion or a pay rise, working on a desirable project, learning a new skill, or even finding a new job.
  2. Only do meaningful work: This is easier said than done, but doing only meaningful work makes motivation effortless. If you care deeply about the things you are working on, then you are better equipped to deal with the inevitable stresses and difficulties you’ll face.
  3. Develop a good work/life balance: Again, often easier said than done, but this is an important one to strive for, especially if you have a demanding job.
  4. Get to know your colleagues: Even if you work in a large company, take the time to get to know your colleagues. When you value and care about the people you’re working with, it makes it a lot easier to motivate yourself to work hard.
  5. Celebrate the small successes: We often dwell on our mistakes or failures, but forget to dwell on our successes. Focusing on the things you’ve done well will boost your positivity.

8.  Leadership

Leadership is a unique soft skill that provides limitless benefits to all companies. To be a leader means that you have an extensive set of soft skills, including many mentioned above.  Also, traits such as empathy, thoroughness, creativity, vision, and risk-taking ability encompass a strong leader and are very important in the office and on-site.

Personal development guru, Tony Robbins, suggests the following 7 Ways of Developing Leadership Skills.

  1. Be passionate
  2. Model great leadership for others
  3. Set concrete goals and execute them
  4. Admit when you fail and move on
  5. Motivate others
  6. Find your higher purpose.

Soft Skills in the Workplace Wrap Up and Video

We found a great video with more information about the importance of soft skills in the workplace.

The top homebuilding recruiters look for the best candidates to fill managerial, administrative, or technical jobs, and soft skills have recently become a major differentiator.

That’s why you need to frame your skills well in your resume and your interviews. ‘Show not tell’ applies perfectly in a resume. Talk about the projects and tasks that reflect your best qualities, and don’t use big words, just be candid and proud.

Furthermore, knowledge of these skills will only benefit you when preparing for common behavioral interview questions.


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