It is said that there is nothing soft about soft skills when they are going wrong: professional skills development is a vital component of any corporate training strategy.

As a result, any developmental curriculum should include a strong focus on practical dynamic empathy as well as technical upskilling.

It may sound obvious that organisations that invest in their people with professional skills aligned to their roles arm their people with skills vital to the effective execution of the organisation’s strategy: they achieve higher levels of productivity, stronger engagement with clients (internal and external) and a more motivated workforce overall.  

Professional skills development is a crucial factor for corporate success | MDA Training

Professional skills development is a crucial factor for corporate success, and it goes beyond just technical expertise. Soft skills such as practical dynamic empathy are equally important in fostering an engaged and motivated workforce.

In fact, a study by Harvard University found that 85% of job success comes from having well-developed soft skills, while only 15% comes from technical skills and knowledge. 

Investing in professional skills development can lead to tangible benefits for organisations. According to a survey by LinkedIn, 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development.

Additionally, organisations that provide their employees with professional skills training have been found to experience a 24% increase in productivity and a 34% improvement in employee engagement. 

With such clear outcomes, the questions must be where should professional skills focus on, and why? 

1. A Focus on Self-Awareness 

A Focus on Self-Awareness | MDA Training

The foundation of self-awareness is the ability to recognise and monitor your emotions and reactions, giving you a deeper understanding of your areas of excellence as well as opportunities for growth, a deeper understanding of your triggers, motivations and aspirations.

Without a clear understanding of self, an individual can't truly understand others. This is why self-awareness is a crucial aspect of professional skills development. 

Self-awareness is not just a buzzword in professional development; it is a key factor in driving success in the workplace. According to a study by the Korn Ferry Institute, executives with high levels of self-awareness had a 90% success rate compared to those with low levels of self-awareness, who had a 79% success rate. 

Increased teamwork and collaboration | MDA Training

Investing in self-awareness training can lead to significant benefits for both individuals and organisations. In fact, a survey by the Harvard Business Review found that 83% of organisations that provided self-awareness training to their employees reported increased teamwork and collaboration, while 72% saw improved leadership skills. 

As noted by executive coach and author, David L. Bradford, "self-awareness is the first step in self-improvement and leadership development."

By understanding their own strengths and weaknesses, employees can take ownership of their development and improve their performance. This, in turn, leads to improved outcomes for the organisation as a whole. 

Organisations should invest in training programs that help their employees build self-awareness. By learning how to identify their strengths and weaknesses, employees can better understand their roles and responsibilities within the organisation.

They can also gain insight into how their actions and behaviours impact others, leading to more effective communication and collaboration. 

2. A Focus on Self-Management 

A Focus on Self-Management | MDA Training

Self-management is how you choose to respond to challenges, triggers, and mind talk: having the skills to take yourself from unhelpful to helpful thinking, removing unproductive mind chatter, and only investing emotionally in the truth of the situation.

Greater resilience and control over emotions helps support a stronger work-life balance, enhancing effectiveness in the workplace as well as an individual’s personal development. 

According to a report by the American Psychological Association, workplace stress costs U.S. employers an estimated $500 billion annually due to absenteeism, turnover, and decreased productivity.

However, investing in training programs that promote self-management can help mitigate these costs. In fact, a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that employees who received stress-management training had a 31% decrease in absenteeism and a 46% decrease in healthcare costs. 

Stress-management training | MDA Training

As noted by executive coach and leadership consultant, Kirstin Lynde, "self-management is a key skill for success in today's fast-paced business environment."

By learning to manage their emotions and reactions effectively, employees can stay focused and productive, even in the face of difficult challenges. 

Furthermore, self-management skills are not just beneficial in the workplace, but also in an individual's personal life. As noted by leadership expert, John C. Maxwell, "leadership begins with self-leadership."

By learning to manage their own emotions and reactions, individuals can become better leaders in all aspects of their lives. 

Training programs that focus on self-management help employees develop the skills they need to manage their emotions and reactions effectively.

This includes learning techniques for managing stress, building resilience, and maintaining a positive outlook in challenging situations.

3. A Focus on Relationship Management 

A Focus on Relationship Management | MDA Training

Managing your relationships effectively requires a professional skill set that includes empathy, listening, influencing, and collaboration.

1. Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes, to read the room, see and hear the needs of others deeper, and connect at an emotional level. By developing empathy, employees can build stronger relationships with their colleagues and clients, leading to better communication and collaboration. 

2. Listening is the ability to take on board other perspectives and shift your views based on other perspectives. Active listening skills are critical for effective communication and collaboration in the workplace.

3. Influencing is the ability to stand firm with integrity in conversations and developing an approach to communication that supports successful outcomes within long-term relationships. Effective influencing skills are necessary for negotiating, persuading, and resolving conflicts.

4. Collaboration is the ability to leave people in a better state than how you found them and creating opportunities that benefit both parties. Collaboration skills are essential for effective teamwork and building strong relationships with clients.

Empathy, collaboration, listening, influencing | MDA Training

According to a survey conducted by LinkedIn, 92% of talent development professionals believe that soft skills are just as important or more important than hard skills.

Moreover, the World Economic Forum predicts that by 2022, companies will seek out employees with skills such as emotional intelligence, creativity, and critical thinking, rather than just technical knowledge. 

Investing in professional skills development, including relationship management skills, can lead to significant benefits for organisations.

A study conducted by McKinsey & Company found that teams with high levels of trust and effective communication were twice as likely to exceed their performance goals. In addition, a study by Gallup found that teams with higher engagement levels had 21% higher profitability. 

Higher engagement levels | MDA Training

Training programs that focus on empathy, listening, influencing, and collaboration can help employees build the necessary skill set to manage their relationships effectively.

As David Novak, the former CEO of Yum! Brands, said, "The best leaders are those who are able to connect with others, engage their hearts, and inspire them to action. That's why empathy is such a critical skill for leaders." 

Similarly, Stephen Covey, the author of "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," said, "Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply."

Effective listening skills can lead to better communication and collaboration, as well as improved problem-solving and decision-making. 

Successful relationship management is the end goal of awareness and management of yourself and others. It's the output of a focused professional skills development programme at every level of an organisation, where individuals can thrive, and the organisation can grow. 

Get in touch with MDA Training | MDA Training

At MDA Training, we offer a range of professional skills development programs designed to help individuals and organisations improve their self-awareness, self-management, and relationship management skills.

Our trainers are experts in their fields, with years of experience delivering training to a wide range of clients.

Whether you're looking to develop your leadership skills, improve your communication and collaboration, or build resilience and manage stress, we can help. Get in touch with our trainers today to find out how we can support your professional development journey.