Eighty-nine per cent of recruiters say when a hire doesn’t work out, it is usually due to the lack of soft skills, revealed LinkedIn’s 2019 global talent trends.
What are soft skills is the question I asked myself and looked around the internet and pondered on it (not just while writing this, but way before this) and I could not just place my finger on one definition. Yes, soft skills are about having a set of skills - the top skills mentioned were verbal and written communication, leadership, empathy, time management, adaptability, leadership, networking and more. But more importantly, how these skills interact and manifest matter more than possessing or having a few skills.
A manager with excellent communication, leadership, time management and networking skills lacks empathy. Would one be comfortable around such a person irrespective of his other skills?
There is more to soft skills than what meets the eye. Simply put, it can be seen as an extension of your personality and its importance lies in an innate desire for human connection. Would you like to work with people who you enjoy having conversations with and can trust in the time of need? Or do you prefer working with people you never talk and share a light moment with and can hardly trust with work? Wouldn’t it feel like you are working with AI or bots?
Eighty-four per cent of HR managers in a study by global staffing firm Robert Half said that they are willing to hire a person with a technical skill gap and train them, if they have the soft skills.
Modern problems require modern solutions. In the modern workplace where micromanagement is looked down upon, everyone is expected to not just be responsible for their work but also to be enterprising. Organisations are providing flexible working options and employees are opting for work that suits their lifestyles. We no longer work on the 9am-5pm model. With the advent of the pandemic and organisations switching to work from home or hybrid model, the discussion and the importance of soft skills to the centre stage cannot be ruled out. With so much uncertainty in the world, managing your mental health is also a soft skill.
Spain, Iceland, Scotland, Ireland, New Zealand, Japan, UAE, Belgium, United Kingdom are testing the four-day work week. More countries are said to test the four-day work week to provide employees with a proper work-life balance. As we have seen, the modern work environment is dynamic and thriving in such an environment requires a combination of hard and soft skills.
"Companies are looking for employees with an 'entrepreneurial' mindset that can think like a business owner,” says Florence Yiewp, senior manager, Talent Attraction, APAC and Japan. “The most likely explanation for this trend is that working from home has become much more common and businesses have fewer ways to control employees' behaviour. This means managers want workers that don't have to be monitored. Even when you look at other abilities that are in high demand, you can see that."
The dilemma that soft skills often face is how do you measure soft skills, making it hard to learn and exhibit. A candidate can mention soft skills on the resume but is there any way to find out if they actually have them or not? Yes, soft skills cannot be quantified. But, including assessments and behavioral interviews into your hiring process will help you get a deeper understanding about the kind of person you will be hiring and how well they fit into your company culture.
Chanel, the French luxury brand, appointed a fashion outsider as their new global CEO -- Leena Nair. She was formally working with Unilever as a chief human resources officer. I would definitely call it the power of soft skills and a step towards improving diversity and inclusion.
Like any other skill, it can be developed. It requires time and effort and it could mean going out of your comfort zones. It can also help you improve your productivity and relationships at work. The importance of soft skills is paramount in your professional life as it can help to boost your business productivity, resulting in high ROI and better customer relationships.
Looking forward to improve your soft skills? Here are some creative ways you can develop soft skills:
Take up an online or offline course.
Find skills you want to develop.
Seek feedback from your peers and leaders.
Volunteer for an event in an NGO.
Observe and self-reflect.
Practice by applying what you have learnt.
Honing your soft skills is an internal journey. One has to decide the direction they want their personality to shift and it is a drastic step that extends to every aspect of your life. So, think carefully and decide wisely.