Soft Skills R HARD!

August 18, 2020

Interpersonal skills (referred to as soft skills) are hard to measure and take a lifetime of learning to be considered an expert. Can you generate a list of interpersonal traits desirable in a veterinary professional?

I recall facilitating a workshop with managers in Arizona in which they were asked to create a list of skills they wanted to see in a person interviewing for a position as a veterinary technician.

They could readily identify the technical skill sets:

  • Efficiency in lab work
  • Accuracy in calculating and administering anesthetics
  • Ability to educate clients on vaccination and prevention protocols
  • Properly follow the inventory procedures
  • Generate treatment plans
  • Articulate pre and post-surgical care
  • Maintain medical records
  • Properly log data in various folders
  • Use and maintain medical equipment

The difficulty came when declaring the interpersonal skills. What comes top of mind for you? Kudos if you quickly defined the soft skills needed for a veterinary professional to be successful.

In a previous Blog, Romancing the Perfect Candidate, we came up with a list of skills sought in a new hire. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 low, 10 high) how would you rank yourself for the following list?

  • Exceptional client service
  • Ability to be empathetic
  • Courteous
  • Conflict resolution
  • Manage time
  • Creatively solve problems
  • Ability to work alone, autonomy
  • Active listener
  • Compassionate team leader
  • Excellent communication skills
  • High-level of emotional intelligence
  • A team player
  • Ability to multi-task in a fast-paced environment with precision
  • Friendly attitude
  • Energetic
  • Confident
  • Self-motivated

It may be difficult to objectively define or rank these important skills. Sometimes it is best to request feedback to truly understand how to manage or improve in these areas. Then, the tough work! Filling in the gap!

There is a definite gap as illustrated in the article More on the Soft Skills Deficiencies of College Graduate. “While over 90% of our graduating students feel prepared in soft skills to enter the workforce, nearly six in ten employers feel that job applicants are lacking in soft skills. Although there may be differences between the graduates and the individuals in the applicant pool, it is also likely that students are not fully aware of their own behavior or the expectations of employers.”

During many of my presentations, I will ask, “How many of you (managers/owners) have fired a team member because of their technical skills?” A couple of hands may go up.

“How many of you have fired a team member because they could not play well in the sandbox with others?” A large number of hands affirm my suspicion.

Soft skills are HARD! 

The next question to answer, “Are managers truly training what their team needs, the interpersonal skills?”

Does your veterinary hospital provide communication and soft skill (the list above) training?

In my experience, few veterinary professionals are encouraged to attend classes focusing on their interpersonal, soft skills. Team members feel they need to learn the technical, job-related training. In reality, it’s quite the opposite.

Now is a good time to reach out to Industry Partners and determine their support for in-hospital, virtual communication and soft skill training. You may be surprised by the number of representatives eager to collaborate and support your team in this fashion.

Pen in hand, create a list of the training you feel you or your team needs related to soft skills.

CATALYST VetPC delivers on interpersonal skills training! The beauty of virtual workshops, we can present on the topics ’til the Cows come home or COVID is no longer a threat! We can even create a customized mini-series!

You and your team may benefit from one of our many upcoming Workshops. 

We simply want veterinary team members to have a successful career by supporting them in the HARD soft skill training!

Yours in Team Training,

Rebecca Rose, CVT

Certified Career Coach