Updated: Apr 13, 2020
In 2008, in her book entitled The Hard Truth about Soft Skills—workplace lessons smart people wish they’d learned sooner, Peggy Klaus—a business and leadership coach and published author—quotes:
“Whether young or old, experienced or inexperienced, what struck me most about their stories of missed opportunities and derailed careers was this: Their problems rarely stemmed from a shortfall in technical or professional expertise, but rather from a shortcoming in the soft skills arena with their personal, social, communication, and self-management behaviors.”
Soft skills are amalgamation of social and personal skills, such as communication and leadership, and social and emotional intelligence quotients. In simpler terms, these skills are referred as those desired by employers but are not job-specific. In this advancing workforce era, the importance of soft skills is equal to that of hard skills. Having in-depth knowledge and required sets of hard skills are promising for a newly hired employee to achieve and fulfill the technical expectations of his/her post. Nevertheless, developing softer, interpersonal, and relationship-building skills helps in better communication and effective collaboration, which ensures two-way success, i.e., for an employee and the respective company.
Soft skills have been reported to be very critical because these assets are necessary for organizations to remain competitive in an industry and increase overall business productivity. As per the recent industrial survey reports, 75% of long-term professional success is attributed to soft skills. Employees with soft skills have been found to be hardworking and better-appreciated. This leads to increased ratio of employee retention in the company. According to the statistics of Harvard University, Boston University, and University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, employees with soft skills training are 12% more productive than those without them. This ultimately means that soft skills lead to 256% of ROI instead of 100%.
In the past industrial economy and business segment, soft skills were not considered to be important; during interview, a candidate used to be mainly evaluated on the basis of his technical and subject-matter expertise; however, in today’s global economy, a lack of soft skills has been noted to be limiting company’s overall growth and success rates. This is mainly true in case of high-growth startup systems. In such business environments, change is constant and inevitable; the success rate of startup industries is determined by the talent of employee and how quickly employees can adapt and accept the changes and fulfill required criteria.
Ten Most Influential Soft Skills To Add In Your Training Calendar
Effective Communication: To many, communication may strike only as a speech or English—given that it is a universal language. However, communication is more about one’s confidence and personality. Having good command of language and knowing how and where to well present one’s ideas boost employee’s personality. Nonverbal communication, such as e-mails, is the most professional way of communication among companies, and thus, it is essential to be able to draft well-written messages. Thus, communication does not only encircle speaking abilities, but also includes listening and writing efficiency.
Listening Skills: Listening to the ideas of colleagues ensures that employee can well understand the working of a company. This skill can be defined as being curious and eager instead of defensive. Listening helps in proper assessment of any proposal and raising valid questions.
Teamwork & Team Building: Employees are expected to work effectively with colleagues. Appreciating, encouraging, and assisting each other results in satisfactory and constructive outcomes. Additionally, employees need to accept feedback from others and give their feedback to others. Such intercultural competence leads to better and increased performance of a team.
Time Management: This factor can be correlated with the ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines. Dealing with stress and high workload is extremely important in any corporate setting. Managing time and maintaining perfect balance between completed and pending tasks are crucial. As Elon Musk—an entrepreneur and investor who put forth “time blocking strategy”—correctly mentioned, time management can do wonders in eliminating stress.
Accountability & Leadership: Accountability is a composition of many other soft skills such as positive attitude. It is a personal choice to rise above critical circumstances and demonstrate the ownership and leadership qualities necessary to achieve desired results.
Critical Thinking: Irrespective of a job post, managers always desire to have employees who can logically assess a situation and make resourceful informed decisions. Critical thinking involves evaluating data, facts, routine phenomena, and statistical findings and apply these in professional work-life for constant and better business development.
Corporate Ethics: Employees who are well-versed with the importance of corporate ethics are punctual, focused, meet deadline criteria, and stay organized. Moreover, these ethics comprise attentiveness, persistence, and determination.
Negotiating and Resolving Conflicts: To be an adept negotiator is to know how to be persuasive and influential and to seek solutions that benefit both parties. Resolving conflicts is dependent on strong interpersonal skills and establishing unbiased rapport with colleagues and clients.
Adaptability & Flexibility: Adaptability is ability to adjust and change oneself as per evolving professional environments. Such employees can make difference to changing client needs and bring more profitability to a company.
Emotional Intelligence: This key skill is the ability to recognize and manage emotions of oneself and others. Employees with higher emotional intelligence find it easier to establish and maintain mutual relationships and fit in team situations. Such employees can well understand their psychological state and effectively manage stress among coworkers.
Recently, talent developers are greatly considering the digital transformation and are dependent on more online solutions to meet the necessities of diverse and multinational workforce. As recently reported, nearly 90% of companies offer digital learning programs. However, to cater to various industrial needs, online learning possesses some limitations. These programs do not let company authorities to well connect with employees. Every employee is different with different set of skills and ideas. Thus, skills require to be enhanced vary among employees based on their learning abilities. To attain this, it is crucial to understand employees and connect with them on professional and personal levels, and thus, online standard learning protocols do not suit all employees.
As an L&D professional, you must be well-equipped with the latest tools, models and methodologies that will help you impart these soft skills training to your employees. However, before that, the first step for you is to identify exactly which training is required for whom, by conducting a soft skills gap analysis, and mapping your employees to the respective gaps and, subsequently, defining their individual training needs. A one-size-fits-all approach hardly works in today's learning and development ecosystem, and L&D experts are increasingly recognizing this as the cornerstone of today's shifting paradigm of talent development.
Our team of professional experts are International Coaching Federation (ICF)-certified coaches; we have courses designed to understand employees and to conduct training needs analysis. We practice ICF-certified methodologies to provide better training. These courses improve employee learning-curves and establish connecting grounds for company and employees to better comprehend each other. Moreover, we assist in building and maintain company–employee relations for a successful business.