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New research has revealed that a lack of interpersonal skills in their teams could be holding back SMEs. Tempo, a hiring platform provider, spoke to 500 SMEs about soft skills within their businesses, and the negative impact that poor communication could have.

While there is often a focus on small businesses needing to improve their technology, and technology skills, to combat productivity and business growth issues, we need to remember that these don’t exist in isolation.

Ben Chatfeild, CEO and co-founder of Tempo, thinks “it’s especially important for managers to have the needed personal skills – you can have the greatest software engineer, but if they can’t communicate their ideas properly it will have a knock-on impact to the wider team and clients. In order to combat this straight away, at the recruitment stage, HR teams must work closely with business leaders to fully understand the skills – both technical and interpersonal – required in each role.”

The research found some of the negative impacts could include losing a client or customer (32%), as well as receiving complaints from co-workers (33%) and a decrease in productivity (31%). 

55% struggled to find candidates with the necessary soft skills, and 53% said their current team lacked these. The top skills SME owners are on the lookout for include communication skills (41%), creativity (40%) and time management (39%).

Selena Ng, People Business Partner at Starling Bank commented on the report: “Customer support is such an integral part of the business. We need people who work hard and who care about turning every single customer experience into a positive one.  A client-facing role can definitely be challenging at times and we’ve found it extremely difficult to get the right quality of candidates through the door.”