How to Build a Soft Skills Incubator to Maximize Employee Performance

By Maggie Da Prato

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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]When hiring new graduates, you can’t assume they will learn the business ropes as they go. While training on technology and processes are typically the first order of the day for employers, many job candidates are more interested in developing managerial skills that will fast track their careers. These include soft skills such as communication, problem-solving, adaptability, and critical thinking, among others.

Since establishing operations in Montreal in 2020, Dialectica has deliberately set out to build a workforce of highly skilled university graduates. Our main criteria for hiring is not a candidate’s technology or financial skillsets. Instead, we seek out individuals with a growth mindset, an eagerness to learn, and a strong interest in the business world regardless of their educational background. With that foundation, we work as a soft skills incubator of sorts, developing those qualities that allow new graduates to learn valuable business skills that will set them up for future success within our firm or beyond.

Soft skills cannot be nurtured in a vacuum. Nor can you assume an employee will absorb those skills through trial and error. Developing soft skills requires a formalized, structured approach that methodically develops and reinforces the attributes needed to advance their careers.

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Our client service associate program works progressively through several stages of career advancement. This is an approach that any other business looking to hire new graduates can embrace.

We begin with the fundamentals of sales performance, focusing on building relationships and trust. At this point, employees learn to master identifying and understanding clients’ needs and the skills needed to work with demanding clients. Further training dives deeper into how the business and investment world thinks and acts, and teaches employees how to engage with C-suite executives as well as master time management.

Then we focus on client communications, project management, and operational excellence skills. Employees are introduced to best practices for communicating with stakeholders, developing oral and written skills, and the fundamentals of project management, from planning and delivery to evaluation. They also learn how to maximize productivity and optimize best practices.

Employees are then paired with coaches and mentors that provide first-hand guidance on different business scenarios. To unlock their full potential, the program helps them explore their own responsibilities and approach issues as opportunities rather than problems. They are also provided with training and support in advanced interpersonal skills, maintaining open and transparent communications, and delivering constructive feedback. Employees can also attend the Dialectica Mini MBA Program to learn how businesses operate, develop critical administrative and leadership skills, and analyze important concepts such as strategic management, M&As, and marketing.

Soft skills development is a differentiator and what takes careers to the next level. New graduates have made it clear that they want to work with employers that can provide them with the skills needed to fast-track their careers. With this approach, you can build a strong in-house talent pool to draw from as you expand into new markets. Providing the training and skills employees need is critical to ensuring you have an engaged, productive, and loyal team.

Maggie Da Prato is the Head of Talent for the Americas at Dialectica, an information services company that innovates how the world’s leading investment and consulting companies access primary research. Dialectica aims to double its workforce in Canada by the end of the year and reach 500 employees by 2025.

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