We’ve recognised at Blueberry that whilst the emphasis on hard skills has always been needed, in such a diverse industry we now look out for so much more than that. We focus on nurturing leadership, communication, flexibility, creativity and we promote such skills through our Blueberry Academy. But, it didn’t happen overnight!
Like anything in life, business is a learning curve. When Blueberry first started 13 years ago hard skills were what we looked for. As we’ve developed as a company the term soft skills has crept up more and more. So, when the Blueberry Academy was being developed we laid out a plan for developing those soft skills within our team. Our experience with apprenticeships showed us how important soft skills were, and now soft and hard skills are taught together with one of our apprentices even becoming a team leader with bags of knowledge! It’s clear to say that prioritising soft skills has had a positive impact on both our business and our people.
For example, unsurprisingly in our business, communication skills are key! Our motto is two ears, one mouth - use them in proportion, meaning being able to talk the talk is important, but we value listening skills even more. If you don’t take in and understand what a customer is saying, then you’re wasting both your time and theirs, which is why as part of the Blueberry Academy we deliver a module to help simplify the process for our team. This overlaps with our leadership and client management workshops which also reinforce how valuable being a good listener is.
Having the right attitude to learn
The saying “too cool for school” doesn’t exist in Blueberry! Building soft skills is a team activity and allows us to get creative. This fits into our company culture encouraging flexibility and team playing. Pushing ourselves and our colleagues out of our comfort zone (and being silly!) creates the perfect environment to be adaptative in our approach, especially when brainstorming and problem solving. We’ve found team bonding activities have been brilliant for developing soft skills.
Take it from Google
Don’t believe us? Well Google’s top seven characteristics of success are all soft skills. This includes having empathy towards and being supportive of one’s colleagues, a critical thinker and a problem solver. All things which we’ve recognised and nurtured at Blueberry!