Time Management, Persuasion, Work Ethics, Confidence, Communication, etc. All these skills are what we still call nowadays “SOFT skills”.
We call them “SOFT skills” because they are secondary to the “HARD skills” such as Engineering and Science. Also “SOFT skills” are linked to Emotional Intelligence and it can’t be easily measured like Mathematics or Science.
But they are skills that are absolutely necessary to thrive in today’s complex business world. According to a recent LinkedIn survey, “92% of talent professionals and hiring managers say that soft skills are just as important, if not more important, than hard skills”.
And I could experience it myself with millennials, for instance, when I was working as a recruiter for Healthcare industry at a Japanese Executive Search firm in Vietnam. I was sometimes surprised or even shocked by the way some candidates would introduce themselves and behave during interviews, their struggle with face-to-face communication skills, their lack of self-confidence or their strong ego that would give them a lack of accountability.
Enterpreneur.com put out an article about the top 11 reasons talented millennials get fired in December 2017. Essentially the main reasons why millennials get fired is because they can’t collaborate, they lack confidence in themselves, vision and their decisions.
Young adults struggle with confidence. That is a fact. And in a fast growing market such as Asia where the median age is 30.5 and the generation z is rising up, you’d better equip your employees with strong “SOFT skills” to overcome other kinds of barriers such as a high mix of cultures, generations and values clashes.
Let’s focus on Interpersonal Skills (face-to-face communication, active listening, interaction) for example. You can hire the 10 most knowledgeable managers in your industry but if these same talents don’t communicate and behave effectively, if they don’t know how to build rapport nor how to persuade their interlocutors, they won’t be able to work together, to COLLABORATE. And I am not even mentioning the opportunities the organisation is missing with its clients due to this poor collaboration and leadership.
Therefore many businesses find themselves with talented employees that only work as a potential team. These “working groups” demonstrate the typical 5 dysfunctions of a team (Patrick Lencioni’s model): lack of trust and commitment, fear of conflict, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results. Sounds familiar?
Last but not least, not giving its right importance to “SOFT skills” has ultimately terrible consequences on employment turnover. Especially in Asia where confucianism encourages the subordinates to offer their full loyalty, support and integrity to their boss. According to Gallup (2016), “75% of employees leave managers, not companies”. And therefore, “the most disengaged layer of a company is middle-management” (Gallup, 2017). But keep in mind that “SOFT skills” are often transferable across careers and industries…
So now, let’s stop calling them “SOFT skills”, but what they truly are: “ESSENTIAL skills”. Because, from an employee perspective, there is nothing soft about not getting hired or losing your job. And from a company perspective, there is nothing soft about losing business because of lack of collaboration and consequently poor performance delivery.
Many employers value “ESSENTIAL skills” over technical skills because they are often personality traits developed over a lifetime and can be difficult to teach. That being said, anyone can improve their “ESSENTIAL skills” with experience and practice. Most skills are a matter of methodology and routine that can be practiced both on the job and at home.
A 100% adapted and tailored Training & Coaching solution can help your employees to develop their “ESSENTIAL skills”. But no matter how many external training solutions you will pay for, you will need a long term partnership that includes:
- a vision with realistic goals
- a post-training reinforcement strategy through individual/team coaching sessions
- some Mentoring tools & methodology for Top Management to drive the change from the inside
TRAINING + COACHING + MENTORING = ESSENTIAL SKILLS TRANSFORMATION
Creativity, Persuasion and Collaboration are the top three most in-demand soft skills for companies today, according to a recent LinkedIn survey. And “Art of Persuasion” has been defined as one of the most crucial business skills by many leaders. So when do you start?