Soft Skills Aren’t Fluffy

Leaders often think soft skills or people skills are fluffy – that it’s about being nice, asking about an employee’s family and showing emotions like crying at work.


Soft skills or Emotional Intelligence are skills, according to Daniel Goleman, around the areas of:

  • Awareness of your own emotional and emotional state
  • Ability to manage your own emotions, adapt and have a positive outlook in the pursuit of a goal
  • Social awareness of people (empathy) and organisationally
  • Relationship management so being able to influence, coach, mentor, inspire, managing conflict and teamwork.

So not fluffy at all, and let me quantify soft skills.

Monetising soft skills:

Imagine you have a manager who is in an open plan office criticising one of their employees for 5 minutes. How long do you think that employee is demotivated or unproductive? How long do you think the others in the office are unproductive (trying to console the berated employee or criticising the manager’s action)? Imagine this manager does this every day to one person. This can costs 1,000’s of GBP, Euros, Dollars!

I recently did the math for a leader, with them giving me the numbers and me doing the calculation. Their supply chain manager was complaining and criticising people (in their own team and other peoples’ teams) on a daily basis. The leader was reluctant to act because he thought it wouldn’t make a difference, it wasn’t that big a deal and ultimately, he was shying away from dealing with someone directly over bad behaviour.

I asked the leader the following:

How often does she do this a day?  4x day

How many people in the office?  15 people

How long do you think those 12 people are thrown off by the negativity?  15 min each       

How many weeks per year does she do this? (ex vacation and travel)  42 weeks

Average salary of the employees in that space:  $/£/€50,000 year

Let’s be conservative and half the impact:  -50%

Lost productivity:  $/£/€8,000 year

If I could add 8,000 to your bottom line would it be worth having a conversation with the supply chain manager?

I’ve done this for a leader in an office where the staff are billed out at £120 per hour and the calculation resulted in over £60,000 of productivity. That leader had the conversation. The manager ended up leaving on his own accord and the new manager is loved and billable hours have increased 10%.

There’s a positive upside for soft skills too.

What value would positive EI have on your business’s bottom-line?