Why people realize late about the importance of SOFT SKILLS
Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
Why couldn’t I get a clue . . . someone – my parents, teachers, professors should have told me, ….they did… then why did I not listen?
This is a million dollar question, often realized in difficult phase of life or career.
It’s the question that pops every time as the countless professionals in the field, we train and coach every year, share their stories out of trenches. Young or old or even inexperienced. What we find most striking about their tales of missed opportunities and ruined career paths is:
The reason for their stress and frustration is usually not an insufficient technical or professional knowledge. Invariably, it results from a deficiency in their soft skills, the essential non-technical skills and behaviors required for a successful career path.
If these skills are so crucial, then why do so many people acquire them in a difficult method?
For most people, they believe that soft skills do not have any importance and they aren’t sure the exact nature of what they are.
What should be the definition of Soft Skills?
When it is about soft skills, the majority of people believe they’re just about warm and fuzzy abilities. Sure, people skills are a component in the mix, however it’s only for the beginning. While hard skills are the technical skills and practical knowledge required for what you do, the soft skills enable you to make more effective use of the technical capabilities and skills you have.
What are Soft Skills, and Why are they important?
Soft skills can be broadly defined as a mix of personality characteristics and social behaviors that allow individuals to communicate, collaborate, and effectively manage conflicts.
People with good soft skills are more likely to possess strong situational awareness and emotional intelligence, allowing them to manage difficult work environments and still produce positive outcomes. This is particularly important in leadership positions since effective leadership is more concerned with managing employees and steering their efforts towards achieving the desired goal rather than using any specific technical knowledge.
Another advantage of having soft skills when working is that they assist people in adapting to new conditions.
Communication skills that are effective in times of uncertainty or collaborating with colleagues when solutions aren’t readily apparent are crucial whether someone is in a position of leadership or not. Because of their many uses and responsibilities, it’s not surprising that companies are taking more steps to test the candidate’s soft skills during the interviews.
Soft skills refer to personal, social, communication and self-management skills.
They are able to demonstrate a variety of capabilities and characteristics, including:
- Being self-aware
- critical thinking
- organizational awareness
- taking risks
- time management
It’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it?
These are the soft skills that complement the hard skills and are crucial to success in the sand-and-dirty workplace. You could have the most technological expertise you want however if you aren’t able to present your ideas, work together with colleagues and turn your work into the correct time, you’ll get nowhere fast.
While the majority of people are hired because of their technical skills, however, their soft skills provide them with “career longevity,” says Alexandra Levit, who is a workforce futurist and the author of Humanity Works: Merging Technology and People to Create the Future Workforce (Kogan Page (2018)). Levit defines the term as the capacity to develop the knowledge, skills and attitude required to become a productive and engaged part of the team.
Do we respect Soft Skills?
Whatever way you define them, soft skills are still afflicted by a disrespectful attitude.
What is the point of things that are called as soft be considered valuable in the competitive business world that is driven by results, or affect the overall bottom line?
Soft skills are usually considered to be “good to have”–maybe even something you’re naturally gifted with but are not necessary to be successful.
The way I think about it always causes me to laugh. It’s similar to saying that Yo-Yo Ma has an amazing profession as a cellist only due to his genetics.
While it’s true that some aspects of his talent and success could be due to genetics, it is a disgrace that we often overlook many other factors that have led to his incredible success which includes rigorous studying and practicing, working with other ensembles, making judicious career choices, taking chances creating and marketing his brand, working with conductors, and communicating to his audience.
In the case of YoYo Ma as in all circumstances, the soft skills are as crucial as, if not more important as the hard ones and merit our admiration.
That’s why there’s nothing soft in soft skills.
The term “soft” that describes these skills performs a disservice to their work. It also makes them less valuable and is viewed as a filler. Instead, we should be calling them “core skills.”
Actually, businesses are beginning to recognize their importance, linking competence in the area of soft skills with positive performance appraisals as well as pay increases.
Soft skills are also becoming an important factor for companies when they are recruiting.
Research reinforce the importance of Soft Skills
Recent research has highlighted their importance in the workplace, proving that soft-skills competence can be as reliable as an indicator of performance in the workplace as traditional certifications of technical proficiency or knowledge(Hard Skills).
Research conducted by Fortune 500 CEOs by the Stanford Research Institute international and the Carnegie Mellon Foundation, found that 75 percent of job performance is based on people skills, and only 25 percent relies on technical expertise.
In LinkedIn’s 2019 Global Talent Trends report, 90% of recruiters agree that if the hiring process doesn’t work out, it’s because of a deficiency in soft skills.
The soft skills make the top-performing organizations and employees apart. They’re important enough because LinkedIn research has found that when employees fail to stay with an organization most of the time, they are due to their lack of soft skills.
Maybe realizing this, employers are emphasizing soft skills when hiring. Monster’s The Future of Work 2021: Global Hiring Outlook reported that when employers were asked to name the top skills they want in employees, they cited soft skills such as dependability, teamwork/collaboration, flexibility and problem-solving.
The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2020 report discovered that the top skill that employees will require by 2025 is analytical thinking and creativity.
The World Economic Forum estimates that 40% of the world’s job skills will be changing within five years and that 1 billion people, or 12 per cent of the world’s population – will require re-training over the next decade.
Soft skills were crucial before the outbreak of covid19 and became more vital to surviving in the post-pandemic corporate world. This is evident from McKinsey & Company notes that the capacity to keep good relationships with clients and teams virtually and operate with less supervision will determine the fate of today’s teams.
McKinsey provides the most important skills required by the workforce of the future, and a plethora of hard skills doesn’t overrun the list, the other skills that are deemed essential:
- Critical thinking
- Mental flexibility
- Building relationships
- Teamwork effectiveness
They all belong to the class of soft skills, a term that we should be asking questions about. While they may appear superficial, they’re more resilient to changes in the environment than their counterparts, hard skills.
The skills needed nowadays are more focused on managing a constantly changing environment with high levels of uncertainty, especially in growing industries.
You could be a computer expert or even a scientific genius or an expert in mathematical theories. To be successful, you must have more than just knowledge in the field you are working in. Actually, as per NACE National Association of Colleges and Employees (NACE), when employers who were part of the study were asked to list the qualities they look for from candidates, they assigned their highest marks for the following three traits:
- Written Communication Skills (82%)
- Problem Solving Skills (80.9%)
- Ability to work in Teams (78.7%)
Incredibly, technical abilities (59.6%) and computer-related skills (55.1%) are frequently regarded as the most crucial abilities a candidate can have in the current high-tech job market and were rated low in the other criteria. These results show that employers are paying more attention to soft skills than in the past. Certain post-secondary institutions include soft skills in technical and scientific fields to meet the industry’s growing needs.
You are on your own
While companies today are putting more importance on soft-skills, the majority of us are on our own when it comes to creating our own personal arsenal. In spite of collectively spending over billions on employee training programs, many companies do not provide programs for soft skills in any way. Even when they do offer them, they tend to be exclusively to “high-potential” employees or senior executives.
An extensive study of U.S. employer-sponsored training confirmed that the majority of training focuses on new employee orientation, applications for computers that are designed for the end user and technical expertise or knowledge and education for customers.
The training for soft skills, which was typically focused on leadership and communication, was given “as needed,” primarily for the most senior executives.
Moreover, the college and university programs, even for advanced degrees in business, are only delivering the same information as corporate world when it comes down training in soft-skills. It’s evident.
A survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council found that although MBAs were strong in analytical aptitude, quantitative expertise, and information-gathering ability, they were sorely lacking in other critical areas that employers find equally attractive: strategic thinking, written and oral communication, leadership, and adaptability.
Increased diversity in the workplace and among customers in terms of gender, age and racial lines, along with globalization of business and the advent of virtual offices have made it more imperative to develop competence in soft skills.
Six sets of Soft Skills you must master to survive and thrive in competitive corporate world
1. Leadership Skills
Employers want employees who can oversee and guide other workers. They need employees who can establish relationships with colleagues up, down and across the organizational chain. Leaders need to assess, motivate, inspire, and discipline their employees and form teams, solve disputes, and establish the company’s image. Being able to influence others and adapt to their preferences is a crucial aspect of leadership. Many companies fail to consider the importance of leadership when appointing a technically proficient person within a role of power. The development of soft skills is typically an essential component of training for leaders.
Most employees are part of a team/department/division, and even those not on an official team need to collaborate with other employees. It is possible to work in your own space, but you need to demonstrate that you know and appreciate the benefits of working together with others to achieve corporate goals.
3. Communication Skills
Successful communication involves five components.
- The term “verbal communication” refers to communicating clearly and succinctly.
- Nonverbal communication involves the ability to convey positive facial expressions and body language.
- Written communication is proficiency in writing reports, text messages, and other documents.
- Visual communication is the ability to convey information through pictures and other aids to visual.
- Active Listening is also a crucial soft skill in communication as it assists you in listening and understanding what other people are saying. You must be able to listen to communicate effectively with anyone. Without solid listening skills, the communication effort will be one-way and likely ineffective.
4. Problem-Solving skills
Companies employ people to tackle issues, not to come up with excuses. The occasional bumps and stumbling blocks are all job elements and offer learning opportunities. Your ability to utilize your expertise to discover solutions to pressing issues and come up with practical solutions will prove that you can handle and excel at your assigned job.
5. Work Ethics
Even if you have a supervisor, businesses don’t want to spend their time controlling employees. They require you to be accountable, perform the work you’re being paid to do and make sure your work is free of errors. Doing the extra mile demonstrates that you’re dedicated to professionally doing your work.
6. Time Management Skills
The 21st century is when businesses have to implement rapid (and sometimes radical) adjustments to stay competitive. Therefore, they require workers who can change gears or learn new things quickly without wasting time. It’s essential to be punctual at work, keep deadlines in mind and manage various tasks and show the willingness to accept additional tasks.
Are Soft Skills important in personal life?
Well, your work impacts your personal life and personal relationships with friends, family, spouse or partner are often tested in today’s competitive work culture. Even if you claim that you leave you work pressures at workplace but, you carry it home impacting your personal relationships.
Also, believe it or not, only soft skills will help you in forming everlasting positive relations in life.
Your communication, listening, conflict resolution, time management, decision making skills, to name few, are pre-requisites for healthy and meaningful romantic relationships in life.
Why EQ4C and How EQ4C works?
Through the years, at EQ4C, we’ve accumulated stories of triumphs and challenges at work based on countless hours of training or coaching individuals at all levels of an organizational ladder.
Based on these experiences, we’ve developed essential practical workplace tips that improve your awareness and understanding of the importance of soft skills.
We’ll show how they’re woven throughout your personal and professional life. Through the series of articles, you (readers, learners) will discover practical strategies, insights, tools and methods to improve or learn the specific soft skill area.
Articles are well organized for easy learning, each of which covers specific aspects of your professional life where these skills play a significant parts in life and career management.