Employers want to select, retain and promote individuals who are dependable, resourceful, ethical and good communicators.
Gone are the days when possessing a degree or high technical abilities would act as a gateway to a dream job. Today, demanding employers want more from employees than knowledge and experience. While these “hard skills” can make a good impression and prompt an invite to a candidate for an interview, they won’t necessarily close the deal. What employers want are individuals who possess a good amount of ‘soft skills’. So, what are soft skills?
“Soft skills” to simply put it, is a term used to relate to a collection of personality attributes, positive traits, and communication abilities/competencies that increase an employee’s performance and relationship to their job. These soft skills lead to a “total fit”.
For a long time, the importance of soft skills has been undervalued. Most companies assumed that people knew how behave on the job and how to fit in, as well as how to be on time, take initiative, and rank as a high level producer or top performer. The value of soft skills to an organization is growing and in order to gain a competitive edge, employers want people who know how to handle themselves at work, and how to relate to customers and colleagues.
Do You Have a Soft Skills Gap?
When an organization has an abundance of technical skills but an absence of soft skills, they have a soft skills gap. Soft skills help the organization use its technical expertise to its full advantage.
- If a workforce is really good at getting clients and not so good at retaining them, chances are you have a soft skills gap.
- If a company has a high staff turnover and spends time retraining people, chances are they have a soft skills gap.
- When there are lots of managers but no real leaders – that’s a soft skills gap.
In fact, whenever you are unable to capitalize on the wealth of knowledge, experience and proficiency within your team, then you should be assessing the level of communication and interpersonal skills that are present in the organization.
What are the benefits of developing ‘soft skills’?
For some reason, organizations seem to expect people to know how to behave on the job. They tend to assume that everyone knows and understands the importance of being on time, taking initiative, being friendly, and producing high quality work. As a result the importance of these soft skills is often undervalued and there is far less training provided for them than “hard skills”.
The acts of listening, presenting ideas, resolving conflict and fostering an open and honest work environment all come down to knowing how to build and maintain relationships with people. It’s those relationships that allow people to participate fully in team projects and show appreciation for each other.
In fact, the more of these things you see in the workplace, the better employees soft skills are likely to be within an organization. Having a good knowledge of ‘soft skills’ has a significant impact on the attitude a person brings to interactions with clients, customers, colleagues, supervisors, and other stakeholders. The more positive someone’s attitude is, the better that person’s relationships will be. That’s what fosters great team performance, and leads people to contribute strongly to their organization’s vision and strategy.
Soft skills are crucial for success.