What is the lack of soft skills in millennials costing us?

We hear it often. “Millennials make eye contact. They don’t respect authority. They don’t show up on time.” Why? What happened? And how is this lack of soft skills impacting our culture and our businesses?

Millennials who have great soft skills have a huge advantage over their peers who do not.  Studies, reports and articles emerge weekly about the severity of the challenges that employers have with hiring and managing a generation that lacks people skills. That means that members of the most tech savvy generation who have solid soft skills have a serious competitive advantage in the job market.

In his recent post, “Is Lack of Soft Skills Hindering Millennials’ Careers?,” Kevin Howell cited several studies that indicate the answer is “Yes”.

Lack of soft skills is holding back Millennials in their careers

It’s such a chronic and acute problem, that, according to a recent McKinsey study, “40 percent of employers said they have difficulty filling vacancies because younger workers lack soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, and punctuality. A PayScale survey found similar results, with managers highlighting leadership and ownership as skills that Millennials lack.”

What’s the cause of this lackluster skill set? Too much focus on STEM education and job? Maybe. Too much screen time? Perhaps. Some studies have shown that “social anxiety with face-to-face interaction increases with the amount of time spent online.”

“Regardless of the reason young workers struggle with soft skills, companies have to deal with it. Addressing the skills shortfall in the workplace means tailoring training and development toward those needs.”

And that means that soft skills training for millennials needs three things:

  • To be valued by millennials
  • Fun for them to learn
  • Include a lot of practice

Changing behaviors is hard and humans resist it. Shifting the way millennials interact in person is not going to be easy. Success will require engaging training, practice and accountability along the way.

This generation grew up with digital media and video games and they like activities to be fun. Gamifying soft skills training is essential to hold their attention.

Practicing new skills and repeating them often is how people skills behavior will change.

Referrals: the secret weapon used by the world’s most successful business owners

Part 1 of 2 in a series.

Quick question: Which is more important for professional success?
A) What you know
B) Who you know

If you answered B), you already know a lot. But who you know isn’t much help for advancing your career or business if you don’t have skills. Having knowledge is far more likely to lead to success if other people realize you have it than if you secretly have them. So really, the answer is A) and B), in that order. Knowing people is great for building referral partnerships, but it won’t get you a job or sales leads without some talent and ability.
And have amazing skills in a vacuum won’t make you successful.

Do you find yourself stressed out when you think about making sales calls? Many people fee frustrated when they realize they need to build a strong network, have no idea where to begin. It can be a little like the “How do I get experience if I don’t have experience yet?” syndrome.

Download free ebook “From Cold to Sold” 17 secrets to getting more customers

Some people are naturally gifted in the art of networking and some are not. Guess what? That’s totally ok! We are all different, which is what makes the world an interesting place. There’s no reason to feel badly about yourself if you don’t already have relationship building skills honed to a fine point. We can’t all be ace at everything. (For example, don’t ask me to file your taxes. Orange is definitely not my best color and I doubt it’s yours.) If you aren’t the best at relationship and network building, don’t worry. Skills can be learned.
So, what are the 3 steps you can take to build highly successful business relationships and bring referrals flowing into your business?

1. Ask. Be intensely curious about people. Ask a lot of questions about what they do, what they like to do, what success looks like for them, what their challenges and problems are. Ask what they enjoy most and least about their work. People love to talk about themselves, so this is easier than you might think.

Specifically ask them about their goals and concerns. Sample questions:
What’s the most important goal you’re working towards right now?
What’s your greatest challenge with achieving it?
What keeps you up at night?
Their answers will give you some insight to what they care about and the problems they are trying to solve. We’ll come back with what to do with the answers in tip 3.

To get 17 hacks for generating and converting leads, download my eBook, “From Cold to Sold” here.

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2. Listen. Have you ever tried the experiment of listening more than you speak in a conversation? If you have, did the person you were “talking” with say, “You are so easy to talk to”? If not, try it out sometime. The results can be a fascinating illustration of how much value people place on sharing and feeling heard. It’s not a bad thing that we like focusing on our own experiences and telling others about them. It’s a human thing. When you’re building a network of relationships with humans, understanding this quality is invaluable. We are wired to connect and share our thoughts, ideas, feelings and experiences with people. And that happens to be awesome for networking.

3. Nurture. Once you’ve met someone and discovered what they value and established some rapport, the most important step to adding them to your network, is to follow-up with them. I cannot emphasize the importance of following-up enough. Have I mentioned how essential the follow up is?

Look for part 2 of this blog post next week and discover exactly what you can do to accelerate relationship nurturing and turn on the flow of referrals into your business.