The hard truth about soft skills

Though you may be technically more advanced than your peers, have you ever wondered why you were not considered for a promotion despite your many credentials. There could be a possibility that you aren’t adequately equipped with soft skills.

What matters the most? Is a question that plagues the minds of many employers as well employees during the hiring process? To derive a competitive edge, firms need to attract talented people on one hand ad business opportunities on the other. To achieve this, they need people who are able to work with teams, have strong interpersonal skills and are able to communicate and influences others across levels, functions and culture in a sensitive manner.

Today we co-exist in a world of meritocracy and not mediocrity. A professional cannot expect to be appraised based solely on his /her technical knowledge and work output. Being equipped with a considerable amount of soft skills is vital today.

The difference between soft skills and hard skills is that soft skills are transferable skills necessary at every domain while hard skills are confined to a particular domain. Hard skills stress on what you say not how you say it: in contrast soft skills emphasis on how you say and not on what you say. Most recruiters feel that soft skills cannot be imparted unlike hard skills that can be imbibed over a period of time. Stressing the above point, head of people operations for engineering and product Google India says nowadays close attention is paid (during the hiring process) to a person’s ability to work in a team, lead projects independently, work collaboratively and communicate well. Every individual has various elements in their personality and there is nothing good or bad about the same, it is about how they manage the same in a professional environment and fit in with the softer requirements of a job.

With the organizational environment likely to remain unstable and turbulent the flexibility and adaptability created by teams is a significant advantage. In fact, Tom Peters and many others predict that teamwork will replace hierarchy as the dominant form of organization in the twenty first century. Like it or not, everyone who works for a living in helping create a new relationship between individual and corporation, and a new sense of employer and employee.

Businesses of the future will be organized somewhat like a movie production company. Teams of specialists will come together for a specific project and then move on into other teams in the same or other organizations. Key to the success of this approach is the understanding that managers must share both power and responsibility with teams of people who were once disempowered by the rigid bureaucratic lines of authority.

The downsizing of many corporations, creating flatter organizations with fewer middle managers available to manage in the traditional hierarchical manner, has forced organizations to more fully empower organization members into the teams. The emphasis will be on people skills. Even those managers designated leaders will need to learn how to follow the team: A team is not like a pack of sledge dogs, with one dog as the leader. It is more like a flight of wild geese: The leader always changes, but they fly in a flock.

The team phenomenon is particularly suited to the era of information technology and globalization. Information highways and networks connect teams from all over the continent and the globe, facilitating the exchange of information and creative ideas. Global alliances create new opportunities to use multinational teams to develop cooperation and creative exchange. Global alliances will seem like “standard operating procedure” in the next century as multinational teams create new ventures for an exciting future.

Un-commonsense Findings About teams:

1. Companies with strong performance standards seem to spawn more “real teams” than companies that promote teams per se
2. High-performance teams are extremely rare.
3. Hierarchy and teams go together almost as well as teams and performance
4. Teams naturally integrate performance and learning.
5. Teams are the primary unit of performance for increasing members of organizations.

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