Soft Skills vs Power Skills
How to Create a Powerhouse Team of Employees Through Power Skill Development
One of the factors healthcare employers consider when hiring new staff is the applicant’s soft skills. But if your goal is to create a powerhouse team of employees, it may be beneficial to focus on power skills instead. Here we explain the difference between soft skills and power skills, as well as a few ways to develop power skills in your healthcare staff.
Defining Soft Skills and Power Skills
‘Soft skills’ is a phrase used to describe someone’s interpersonal or non-technical skills which may be helpful in a work environment. They include skills related to communication, teamwork, adaptability, dependability, and creativity.1
Research indicates that soft skills are important to employers when choosing a job candidate, making it equally as important for educational institutions to work on these skills with students.2 In fact, if you look at Ultimate Medical Academy’s healthcare programs and degrees, you’ll notice that many of them include courses directed toward soft skill development.
Today, this phrase is being replaced by a term that some feel better represents what these skills actually are: ‘power skills.’
Some industry experts suggest that this change is necessary because these are skills that give employees more power in the workplace, in addition to the fact that they take effort to perform.3 Others feel that the transition to power skills makes it harder to dismiss the importance of these skills, taking them from “mushy nice-to-haves” to skills that are in increasing demand.4
Top 7 Power Skills in the Workplace
Just as the workplace changes over time, so too does the skills it requires. Healthcare companies must continue to change and adapt as the world around them does the same. For this process to go smoothly requires that employees adapt with it.
After reviewing both published research and analyzing companies that were hiring, seven power skills emerged as being the most requested in the workplace. They are:5
- Emotional Intelligence
How to Create a Powerhouse Team of Employees Through Power Skill Development
In addition to looking for these skills in job candidates, you can also promote their development with current employees, resulting in a powerhouse team. Here are a few ways to do this.
Emotional Intelligence Skills
Emotional intelligence involves recognizing your emotions and how they impact the people around you. Research indicates that emotional intelligence doesn’t just impact relationships and health, but also workplace performance.6
One way to help employees develop this power skill is by encouraging self-awareness. At a training event, you could ask them to think about their emotional strengths and where there’s room for improvement. Also, ask them to consider how their emotions affect their performance on the job.
Role-playing may help with this as well. Have two employees talk to each other about a particular topic, then ask them to reflect on how they felt during the conversation. How did their emotions influence the discussion? Did they respond with empathy or judgment? Bringing awareness to their emotional responses can help identify positive ways to respond to co-workers, managers, and patients.
Good communication in the workplace provides many benefits. Among them are reduced conflict, increased employee engagement, improved productivity, greater job satisfaction, and a stronger team.7 But how do you help employees develop these skills?
During in-house training, separate employees into small groups and ask them to practice their communication skills. Have them work on active listening skills such as paraphrasing, reflecting, and summarizing. Encourage them to communicate with empathy, open-mindedness, and respect.
A person who is adaptable is someone who is flexible when change occurs. The pandemic is a prime example of the value of adaptability as, for many, healthcare went from being in person to mainly a virtual service.8
How do you improve adaptability? One strategy is to encourage a growth mindset, or a willingness to try new things. You could do this for employees by offering access to classes to promote their skills. Keeping staff updated about changes that lie ahead may also make it easier for them to adapt, giving them time to prepare for the transition.
Creativity helps drive innovation. It is a desire to explore new, better ways to do things so processes are smoother or more efficient. It offers never-before-considered alternatives to workplace issues.
Creativity is one of the skills that you can have a lot of fun developing. When you have an issue that needs to be solved, hold a brainstorming session and make no suggestions off-limits – no matter how absurd they seem. Or maybe you decide to celebrate the last Friday of each month by holding a lunchtime creativity session, complete with arts and crafts. Have fun with this one and be creative!
From checking a patient in for their appointment to performing medical billing and coding duties so the provider can be paid after care was administered, healthcare is a team. Keeping this team together and functioning involves collaboration.
To help enhance this skill, hold a team-building event in which employees need to work together to obtain the desired results. If you want to take this one outside the workplace, you can arrange for everyone to meet at a local escape room. This helps teach them how to rely on each other’s strengths to successfully escape.
Admittedly, not everyone enters the healthcare field with the goal of securing a leadership role. However, some entry-level workers do desire to move up over time. Helping them develop leadership skills now gives them the opportunity to work on them as they continue to pursue their career goals.
With leadership comes more responsibility. While you can’t necessarily give entry-level staff management-type duties, you can encourage them to develop the skills that often go along with good leadership. This includes working on the ability to motivate and inspire others, keeping a positive attitude, and asking for feedback.9
Having good time-management skills helps direct patient care providers such as dental assistants keep patient appointments on schedule. These skills are just as important for healthcare professionals who provide more indirect services, such as health information managers, as it enables them to keep patients’ records updated should their healthcare team need to review the information.
Time management may be even more critical for work-from-home (WFH) employees as this type of environment can sometimes lead to distractions. Encourage WFH staff members to create a dedicated workspace where they can perform their duties without interruptions. If they have a flexible schedule, working during the part of the day where they are most productive can help as well.
UMA: Your Partner in Healthcare Employee Skill Development
At Ultimate Medical Academy, we want to do more than teach our students the technical skills associated with their job functions. That’s why many of our programs include courses on the development of power skills such as these. This benefits the student as they enter their healthcare role, also benefiting the employer by providing a powerhouse team member.
1 Indeed. Soft Skills: Definitions and Examples. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/resumes-cover-letters/soft-skills
2 Succi C, Canovi M. Soft Skills to Enhance Graduate Employability: Comparing Students and Employers’ Perceptions. Studies in Higher Education. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03075079.2019.1585420
3 Josh Bersin. Let’s Stop Talking About Soft Skills: They’re Power Skills. https://joshbersin.com/2019/10/lets-stop-talking-about-soft-skills-theyre-power-skills/
4 Paterson K. Leader’s Edge. The New Power Skills. https://www.leadersedge.com/brokerage-ops/the-new-power-skills
5 Konstant M. 7 Most Requested Power Skills in a Complex COVID Workplace. LinkedIn Newsletter Series. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/7-most-requested-power-skills-complex-covid-workplace-konstant-mba/
6 Jie H, Martinez O, Crespo R. The Influence of Employee Emotional Intelligence on Enterprise Innovation Performance Using an Adaptive Mathematical Modeling of Emotions. Aggression and Violent Behavior. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1359178920302421
7 Indeed. 10 Benefits of Effective Communication in the Workplace. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/communication-benefits
8 Padmanabhan P. Beyond Telehealth: The Virtual Care Technology Trends That Will Transform Healthcare. Healthcare IT News. https://www.healthcareitnews.com/blog/beyond-telehealth-virtual-care-technology-trends-will-transform-healthcare
9 Doyle A. Important Leadership Skills for Workplace Success. The Balance Careers. https://www.thebalancecareers.com/top-leadership-skills-2063782